Broadacre was not formless sprawl

click on images for full-size:

Hypothetical trends: Spatial trends: concentration (locational advantages of the center) vs. dispersion (the ubiquity of infrastructure); Functional trends: centralization (globalization) vs. decentralization (specialization) -- Image used with permission from Prof. Manfed Sinz's lecture on contemporary space issues

Combinations of the trends: Desired scenario: concentration plus decentralization, producing decentralized concentration; Trend scenario: centralization plus dispersion, producing an unstoppably increasing disorder in settlement -- Image used with permission from Prof. Manfed Sinz's lecture on contemporary space issues

Wright sketched several pictures of Broadacre City, and with his students built a large model showing what a typical area might be like. Some views can be found on the web through Google's image search.

Wright's Broadacre City was by no means a formless sprawl. It was more organized than it at first appears, and it was to be under the benevolent eye of official architects. His model of the dispersed city is organized by a flexible grid masked and distorted in various ways, with similar uses of land grouped in long ribbons parallel to the highway that runs at the edge of the model.

A third of the land area is given over to non-residential uses. Because he wanted to include in the model some buildings that he had designed but not been able to build, Wright put a large number of public buildings and other architectural events within the four square miles represented by the model.

The linear sectors of the model are: the highway, then industrial and commercial-cultural buildings, then agricultural land associated with the markets, then residential, then civic buildings, then recreational areas and larger homes. The model puts together in new ways expanded functional areas taken from rural small towns and their surroundings. Functional areas found in large cities are either disaggregated (manufacturing, commerce) or done away with (low income housing, central stations, office concentrations).

Though it may look similar at first glance, Wright's pattern is not the same as current suburbs.