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Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center

The Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center is a testament to the enduring power of Frank Lloyd Wright’s genius.

Built

Designed 1959, built 1994

Client

City of Madison, WI

Address

One John Nolen Drive

Status

Open to the public with tours available.

Located in Madison, WI, the city spent $67 million to adapt and build the complex 56 years after Wright first proposed it. Wright’s design for “a dream civic center” that would link to the shoreline of Lake Monona began in 1938 as a complex with offices, courtrooms, a jail, and a railroad station. Through a series of incarnations, it continued to take shape over the next three decades. Wright’s desire to secure a public structure in his hometown made him willing to continually cater to different purposes and interests. A labor of love, Wright was compensated $250 in exchange for roughly 63,000 hours of staff time toward the project over a span of 21 years. He would not live to see it completed.

In 1990, Wright’s proposal was resurrected, with final approval coming two years later. The resulting convention center maintains Wright’s original exterior, though the multi-story steel and concrete structure was adapted by Anthony Puttnam of Taliesin Architects to better serve contemporary needs. The resulting exhibition hall, ballroom, banquet hall and media center marry modern technology and amenities with the architect´s signature organic design. A pedestrian plaza spans 90 feet over Lake Monona, connecting it seamlessly to its environment, and a 68,000-square-foot rooftop garden crowns the civic center. Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center opened its doors in 1997, nearly 60 years after Wright created the original design.

News and updates from the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation