Kamal Amin was an idealistic, well-to-do young Egyptian fresh out of architecture school when he traveled to America to join the inner circle of his hero, the internationally famous, groundbreaking genius, Frank Lloyd Wright. He had heard rumors of Wright’s work habits and his eccentricity, but he had no idea of the wild ride that he would experience over the next twenty-six years as a working member of Wright’s Taliesin Fellowship.
Consider the roll call of celebrities that frequented Taliesin. As a disciple of Frank Lloyd Wright, Amin was privileged to hobnob with some of the most creative, complex, and charismatic characters of the twentieth century—people like Presidents Carter and Reagan, Clare Booth Luce, Charles Laughton, Carl Sandburg, Karl Menninger, and many others.
But by far the most complex and commanding presence at Taliesin was that of Olgivanna Lazovich, Wright’s third wife. Her spirit, as well as the spirit of her teacher, George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff, dominated the environment. Worshipped by some, vilified by others, Olgivanna directed the professional and private lives of everyone associated with Wright’s circle. A constellation of contradictions (she was open-minded about sexuality as a natural force but was puritanical in her judgments of those who didn’t follow her advice, for example), Olgivanna was by turns gracious and grasping, inspiring and irritating.
Many accounts have been written about working with Wright, Kamal Amin’s Reflections From the Shining Brow is welcome. The book is especially insightful for its portrait of the dominant power behind the great man’s throne.
After leaving Taliesin, where he had spent most of his life in America, Kamal Amin founded his own architectural engineering office in Scottsdale, where he continues to practice. He also paints, produces serigraphs, and writes. His buildings stand in Arizona, California, Texas, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Louisiana.
About the moderator
Christine SE Magar, AIA, LEED AP, specializes in managing people, ideas, and decision-making in the area of sustainable design. Dedicated to a balanced, holistic, integrated, and sustainable built environment, she participates nationally in developing sustainability guidelines and has been an international contributor to sustainable design efforts.
Ms. Magar's expertise is in design, theory, building science, and management. Her background encompasses architecture, urban design, interiors, and furniture design in diverse contexts in the United States and overseas, including municipal, utility, design firm, and academic environments.
She is currently vice-chair of the USGBC Core and Shell Committee and joined the USGBC National LEED Steering Committee in 2001. She is chair of the AIA-LA Committee on the Environment; and has served on the LAUSD High Performance Schools Working Group, CHPS technical committee, City of Seattle Green Building Team, and the City of Los Angeles Sustainable Design Task Force. Visit greenform.net.