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Kundert Medical Clinic, 1955
Ophthalmologist Dr. Karl Kundert of San Luis Obispo, California approached architect Frank Lloyd Wright in 1953 to design a building for him. Doctor Kundert had seen and liked Wright designs in Madison, Wisconsin and wanted the famous architect to design his new clinic. Although Wright initially declined the job, Kundert persisted and arranged several meetings with Wright, both in California and in Arizona. Eventually, Kundert got the architect to accept his project.
Construction began in 1956 and the clinic opened in the same year. It was one of Wright's last designs before his death in 1959. Wright was also working on the Marin Civic Center at that time and his colleague Aaron Green supervised the construction project.
Kundert wanted the layout to be different than the still-standard small waiting room full of chairs and old magazines. Instead, the waiting room Wright designed is a large area with a central island for the receptionist. It allows occupants to look out over an outside deck and the adjacent San Luis Obispo Creek.
Clerestory windows covered with wooden cutouts allow natural light to filter into the space and reflect off the vaulted ceiling. The floors are polished concreted, inscribed with large squares. The walls are red brick, and there's even a corner fireplace. The effect is more like the lobby of a nice hotel than a typical medical waiting area.
Wright based the design on a Usonian house, in an "L" shape with a concrete block exterior to keep costs low. If you think that would have looked better and wonder why it has brick instead, it's a matter of practicality. Local building codes would not allow using concrete blocks, so it was changed to red brick, with red mortar.
Reportedly, Wright’s charged Kundert $1,500 for the design and Kundert thought it was a good deal.Continue to 2 of 3 below.
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More About the Kundert Medical Clinic - and More of California's Wright Sites
Interestingly, the clinic is still a medical office today, used by a local cardiologist. It is one of Wright's few commercial commissions, although he designed three more medical clinics after Kundert: the Meyers Clinic in Dayton, the Fasbender Clinic in Minnesota, and the Lockridge Clinic in Montana.
If you want to know more about Usonian architecture, try this article that explains it - or read Frank Lloyd Wright's Usonian Houses by Carla Lind.Continue to 3 of 3 below.
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What You Need to Know About the Kundert Medical Clinic
The Kundert Medical Clinic is at:
1106 Pacific Street
San Luis Obispo, CA
The clinic is open to anyone who walks in during office hours, but some visitors feel like they're invading the patients' privacy if they do. On weekends, you'll only be able to peer in through the windows. They are focused on caring for their patients and do not offer tours.
If you want to see more of what the Kundert Medical Clinic looks like inside, you can see some photographs at FrankLloydWrightSites.com and more photos and a technical discussion, too. You can also see a floor plan at this site.
More of the Wright Sites
Wright's Usonian houses were designed for middle-income families, they featured indoor-outdoor connections and were often built in an "L" shape: Hanna House (which is based on an octagon), Sydney Bazett House, Buehler House, Randall Fawcett House, Sturges House, and the Arthur Mathews House.
Kundert Medical Clinic isn't the only Wright site outside California's metro areas. You'll also find several houses, a church, and a medical clinic in some of the most unexpected places. Here's where to find Wright sites in the rest of California. You can also see Wright Sites in Los Angeles and in the San Francisco area.
More to See Nearby
Hearst Castle is about 40 miles north of San Luis Obispo. Here's everything you need to know about seeing it.
The Kundert Medical Clinic isn't on the National Register of Historic Places, but some of its other building are, Ah Louis Store, the Myron Angel House, the Monday Club of San Luis Obispo. You can find a full list of National Register properties in San Luis Obispo County here.