Newman staff member holds a passion for architecture

Jul 14, 2016

Help Desk and Classroom Technology Coordinator Sonja Vogt has loved architecture since the third grade. Learning the skill of perspective drawing and floor plan drawing while attending elementary school led her to learn more about the only architect she’d heard of at that point, Frank Lloyd Wright. Her passion for architecture and Wright’s work has continued to follow her through life.

“The school I attended encouraged personal enrichments,” said Vogt. “A lot of the teachers were brand new at teaching and wanted to do things differently. It was a different atmosphere.” Vogt recalls how she wasn’t great at freelance drawing, but with perspective drawing, she was able to use rulers as a tool for drawing interesting angles.

Recently, the Wichita Eagle printed a story on the Henry J. Allen house, the only Frank Lloyd Wright home in the state of Kansas. The article included the opening of public tours and the need for volunteers. “As soon as I read that article, I couldn’t type fast enough,” exclaimed Vogt.

She attended training in April and is volunteering regularly on Fridays during the summer, but also helps where needed on weekends and evenings. Vogt loves leading tours and walking through the house with Howard Ellington, of the Allen House Foundation, asking him detailed questions about the history and features of the home.

Fallingwater, Mill Run, Pa.

Even though she didn’t pursue a career in architecture, her love for the art has never faded. She found herself looking for Wright inspired angles and features in her own house hunting ventures 10 years ago. Even her travel plans tend to include a stop to tour one of his buildings or homes. Her favorite so far is Fallingwater, which was built directly on a stream.

“It’s the mecca for a Wright fan. You can see all of his architectural philosophies in that one house,” said Vogt. “The original owner wanted a retreat for his family. He loved this stream and these particular boulders on some land he owned, and Wright built the home around these boulders, building it on the stream and integrating the boulders into the house.”

One of her many hobbies includes assembling the LEGO Architecture series, and she was excited to receive the Fallingwater model as a gift. Vogt mentioned, “I would love to get my hands on the Robie House kit, but it’s very hard to obtain right now.” With more than 2,200 pieces, the Robie House presents a challenge to any builder who tackles it. Mark Arts currently has an exhibition of the LEGO Architecture series on display through Aug. 7, and Vogt was honored when asked to assemble many of the finished pieces on display.

Fallingwaters, Lego Architecture
Fallingwater, LEGO Architecture series

Vogt was also asked to give a presentation at the Wichita Art Museum in mid-October for the Allen House Foundation. Her presentation will focus on the Allen House, elements of Prairie Style homes and a little history of the three owners of the home.

Vogt especially loves reading and studying everything Frank Lloyd Wright. “When I know I’m going to visit one of his buildings, reading and researching before I go always helps me understand more about what I’m going to see,” said Vogt. She especially enjoys reading correspondences between Wright and his clients. “You can tell they butt heads quite a bit, but in the end, Frank Lloyd Wright always won.”

His perseverance to stay consistent in his style is what makes up part of his genius. She loves the attitude that Wright lived by and recalls her favorite quote of his: “Early in life I had to choose between honest arrogance and hypocritical humility. I chose honest arrogance and have seen no occasion to change.”

Vogt is looking forward to continuing her volunteer stint at the Allen House although it will be less when fall arrives. Starting in August, she will still lead tours on weekends and in the evenings when needed.

To learn more about the Henry J. Allen house, or to schedule a tour, visit their website.