Unbuilt Masterpiece: The Call Building

I recently contributed to the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation’s quarterly magazine for a special issue on Wright’s high-rises, including the famous Mile-High Illinois. But one design always stood out for me: the beautiful Call Building

A fellow Wright enthusiast, Theodore Zheng, a game art designer, reached out to me and after a quick email exchange, we decided to team up. Theodore tackled the building’s main structure, while I handled everything else – decorative elements, textures, environment, you name it. The result is the imagery you see here.

The Call Building was designed as the new headquarters for the San Francisco Call. Sadly, it never went beyond sketches and models.

The exact location remains unclear, but evidence suggests it might have been next to the Humboldt Bank Building.

Recreating the entire surrounding area based on 1912 photos would have been a massive undertaking, so I opted for a generic urban environment that captures the architectural style of the time

The building was envisioned to be concrete with an exposed aggregate finish, a material that Wright had already successfully used at the Unity Temple.

For the corner sculptures, Frank Lloyd Wright drew a rough sketch. We used the “Sprite” sculpture, a design from Wright’s 1914 Midway Gardens in Chicago.

Theodore used Blender for the building itself. I imported it into 3ds Max and used Vray for rendering. The background buildings and cars are store-bought 3D models.

Most images required minimal post-processing, as we relied heavily on 3D software tools. Only the following image has some photo manipulation with San Francisco buildings in the background.

As always, the Wright fan community was a huge help, answering our questions in this chat.

Special thanks to Eric O’Malley, who generously provided the invaluable monograph on this design from the Journal of Organic Architecture + Design. If you’re interested in learning more, check out the magazine!

Quoting Eric:

“Wright’s dramatic modernist design of the headquarters for the San Francisco Call was never brought to fruition. However, with the extant models and the few drawings we can only imagine what this striking tall tower (a veritable visual symphony in verticality)—Wright’s first skyscraper design—could have been, had it been constructed”

Eric O’Malley

Theodore and I offer our contribution to that imagination.

See the full album with high-resolution images here

One Comment Add yours

  1. Grant W.S. says:

    It would be cool to replicate this building in LEGO

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.