Frank Lloyd Wright was an architect, designer, writer, and educator from Wisconsin, USA. He believed in the creative design of harmony and the environment, a philosophy he penned as ‘organic architecture’. Strongly believing in individualism, Wright was influenced by the natural world and making the connection between the people and the natural surroundings. In addition, he was also involved in the design of the interior elements. For instance, creating furnishings and stained glass windows. That helped to enhance the overall design.
“The mission of an architect is to help people understand how to make life more beautiful, the world a better one for living in, and to give a reason, rhyme, and meaning of life.”– Frank Lloyd Wright, 1957
If you ask any average architecture student or an architect to name a famous American Architect and you can bet their answer will be Frank Lloyd Wright. The American Institute of Architects coined him as ‘Greatest American Architect of all time’ in 1991 because of his visionary work in the field of architecture. He designed almost 1114 building works throughout his long and prolific career that spanned 7 decades. Furthermore, He brought about the development of American architecture to the forefront.
Silsbee (1887 – 1888)
He joined as a draftsman in the office of Joseph Lyman Silsbee in 1886. Although the era had Victorian and Revivalist architecture common at that time, Frank Lloyd Wright did not believe in following the same style. As a result, He found his practice to be major ‘gracefully picturesque’ than the then ‘brutalist’ style. Most importantly, he believed in doing progressive work rather than going with the flow.
Adler & Sullivan (1888 – 1893)
After Silsbee, Wright became an official trainee in the Chicago-based firm of Adler & Sullivan. Louis Sullivan guided Frank Lloyd Wright and took him under his wing because of his great design ability. He always referred to Sullivan as his ‘Lieber Meister’ or ‘Dear Master’ because he respected Sullivan a lot.
Influence (1893 – 1959)
After leaving Sullivan’s firm, He established his own firm on the top floor of the Schiller Building in Chicago. Meanwhile in 1896, along with his colleagues Robert C. Spencer Jr., Myron Hunt, and Dwight H. Perkins, inspired the Arts and Craft Movement. They formed ‘the Prairie School’ because Louis Sullivan strongly inspired their works.
His first independent project, the Winslow House was largely inspired by Sullivan’s ornamentation with the emphasis on simple geometry and horizontal lines. Louis Sullivan inspired most of his initial designs. In 1898, He relocated and established his studio in his Oak Park, Illinois home.
Prairie Style Houses (1900 – 1914)
By 1901, Frank Lloyd Wright had completed about 50 projects and during this time he transitioned into a new style. So, 1900 to 1901 was the onset of the Prairie Style of his experimentation. For example, the Thomas House and the Willis House in 1901 were the first examples of the Prairie Style.
The Prairie Style Houses are typically grounded and complement the land around them. One to two stories with one story projections, an open floor plan, low-pitched roofs with broad, overhanging eaves, strong horizontal lines, ribbon windows, a prominent central chimney and wide use of natural materials like stone and wood. Similarly, the Robbie House, Chicago (1909-1910) and the Avery & Queen Coonley House, Illinois are considered as the masterpieces of Prairie Style.
Notable Public Works (1900 – 1922)
Frank Lloyd Wright was a Unitarian and a member of the Unity Temple built-in 1905. Subsequently, He ceased to be an architect of structure and became an architect of space. Meanwhile, The Larkin Administrative Building, NY (1905), Geneva Inn, Wisconsin (1911), Midway Gardens, Illinois (1913), and Banff National Park Pavilion, Canada (1914) are some of his notable public buildings.
“Architecture is the great mother of art, behind which all others are definitely, distinctly and inevitably related.”– Frank Lloyd Wright
A typical Usonian House is a gridded concrete slab, sandwich walls of wood sliding, plywood cores and building paper, flat roofs without basements and attics. The Usonian Houses were a part of community planning. In other words, suburban development under the term ‘Broadacre City’. It was an idea proposed in his book ‘The Disappearing City (1932)’.
Falling Waters, Pennsylvania (1937) was his most famous private residence project. It was designed to place the occupants close to the natural surroundings. Likewise, it is considered the best all-time work of American Architecture for its dynamism and striking integration with nature. In other words, it is one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s designed most iconic landmarks.
Taliesin West was Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home, studio complex and laboratory from 1937 until he died in 1959. Therefore, it is now a home for Frank Lloyd Wright’s Foundation and also a site of Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture.
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York that took almost 16 years to construct – 1943 – 1959. It is also considered one of the most iconic landmark buildings. In addition, it is recognized as the greatest masterpiece of 20th century American architecture. Designed on the lines of geometry and modernism, the building is a spiral design that recalled a nautilus shell. Which has continuous spaces flowing freely into one another. So, the museum visitors are to ride to the top of the building by an elevator, and then descend at a leisurely pace along the gentle slope of the continuous circular ramp, to view the atrium of the building.
He also had a deep interest in community planning and urban design theories throughout his career.
Few notable community planning designs –
- Quadruple Block Plan (1900 – 1903 Unbuilt).
- Como Orchard Summer Colony, Montana (1909) – New Town.
- Chicago Land Development Competition (1913) – Suburban Chicago quarter section.
- Broadacre City (1934 – 1959) – Theoretical decentralized city plan.
- Usonian Homes, NY (1945)
UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITES
Of all the buildings designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, 8 of his buildings have given the UNESCO World Heritage Site status.
- Unity Temple, Illinois.
- Frederick C. Robbie House, Illinois.
- Taliesin, Wisconsin.
- Hollyhock House, California.
- Falling Water, Pennsylvania.
- Herbert & Katherine Jacobs House, Wisconsin.
- Taliesin West, Arizona.
- Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York.
Grounded residences and dynamic public buildings influenced by nature, for example, particularly shapes, forms and colours, patterns of plant life can be strikingly seen in all of his architectural works. Firstly, he was a huge pioneer of his work especially in America. Secondly, he was responsible for not only architecture and construction but also authored and founded various theories and movements. And thirdly, he created a unique vision for Urban Planning in the United States. In conclusion, eloquent and humane, design for democracy, integrity & connection are the principles he believed while designing buildings. To sum up. writing down Frank Lloyd Wright’s creative legacy into a few words is not an easy task.
Fallingwater. (2021, January 8). Retrieved from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fallingwater#Design
Frank Lloyd Wright. (2021, February 21). Retrieved from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Lloyd_Wright
Frank Lloyd Wright’s Beautiful Houses, Structures & Buildings. (n.d.). Retrieved from Architectural Digest: https://www.architecturaldigest.com/frank-lloyd-wright
Kaufmann, E. (2020, December 17). Frank Lloyd Wright. Retrieved from Britannica : https://www.britannica.com/biography/Frank-Lloyd-Wright
Mason, B. (2017, June 5). Ezra Stoller Captures Frank Lloyd Wright’s Iconic Buildings. Retrieved from ADPRO Architectural Digest: https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/ezra-stoller-frank-lloyd-wright-iconic-buildings-fallingwater-taliesin
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. (2021, January 13). Retrieved from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solomon_R._Guggenheim_Museum
Walsh, N. P. (2019, July 8). 8 Frank Lloyd Wright Buildings Given UNESCO World Heritage Status. Retrieved from ArchDaily: https://www.archdaily.com/908517/8-buildings-by-frank-lloyd-wright-nominated-for-unesco-world-heritage-status
Winslow House (River Forest, Illinois). (2021, January 12). Retrieved from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winslow_House_(River_Forest,_Illinois)