Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959)

Frank Lincoln Wright was an architect, interior designer, writer, and educator who developed an organic and distinctly American style. Possibly the most influential American architect of the 20th century, over his career he designed numerous iconic buildings.

Frank Lloyd Wright

Image source:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Lloyd_Wright#/media/File:Frank_Lloyd_Wright_portrait.jpg

Nurturing a passion

Frank Lloyd Wright was born on June 8, 1867, in Richland Center, Wisconsin, in a family of Unitarian Welsh preachers. His mother brought him up following the principles of pedagogy of Friedrich Froebel (as will happen, in particular, with Charles Eames, Richard Buckminster Fuller, Johannes Itten), in which the concept of “Spielgabe” (translated as “gifts of play”) plays an important role: spheres, cubes, cylinders and other primitive solids made from various materials (from yarn to wood) that can be manipulated and assembled in endless variations, and which, according to chroniclers, would capture his imagination.

Frank Lloyd Wright in 1926

Image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Lloyd_Wright#/media/File:Frank_Lloyd_Wright_LC-USZ62-36384.jpg

About his career

Winslow House.
Winslow House, Chicago suburb (1893)

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After enrolling as an external student at the Wisconsin Faculty of Engineering (which he later left), he began his professional career as an apprentice in two important studies: first, with J.L. Silsby; then, the Chicago office of Dankmar Adler and Louis Henry Sullivan, the pioneers of modern American architecture and the “fathers of skyscrapers”. He stayed there for about six years, from 1887 to 1893, devoting himself primarily to designing single-family homes, while Adler and Sullivan built skyscrapers and commercial buildings, founding the Chicago School and, from a broader perspective, initiating the phenomenon of organic architecture (of which Wright would become the undisputed protagonist).

Wright was greatly influenced by Sullivan, whose motto was “form follows function” and rejected the more florid European styles in favor of a purer aesthetic. Wright followed his ideas and developed them into a unique brand of modern American architecture.

Later, Wright founded his firm and began employing style that became known as the Prairie School. Throughrought his career, he became known as the creator and master of organic architecture, the harmony between human constructions, the inhabitants and its natural sorroundings; the audacity and fruitfulness of his process and his mastery of space are probably his greatest achievements.

The Guggenheim museum (New York, USA 2012)
Modern Architecture, functionalist example.- The Guggenheim museum (New York, USA 2012), by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation in 1939

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What are his major works?

His main works are:

  • Winslow House, Chicago suburb (1893);
  • Unity Temple, Chicago, USA, (1906-1907);
  • Robie House, Chicago, USA, (1908-1910);
  • Midway Gardens, Chicago (1913-1914);
  • Imperial Hotel, Tokyo, Japan, (1916-1922);
Frederick C. Robie House
The Frederick C. Robie House, Chicago, Illinois

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Robie House, Chicago, Illinois - designed by Frank Lloyd Wright
Robie House, Chicago, Illinois – designed by Frank Lloyd Wright

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  • Ennis House, Los Angeles, USA, (1920-1924);
  • Kaufmann House – Fallingwater House, Pittsburg (1932-1936);
  • Johnson Wax Headquarters, Racine (1936-1939);
  • Guggenheim Museum (1949-1959).
  • Norman Lykes house, Phoenix, Arizona. (1959). One of the few circular homes Wright designed during his career. It was built into the side of a mountain.

Perhaps the most famous example of Wright’s daring design philosophy was Fallingwater House, which Wright designed to hover over a waterfall.

Fallingwater (Frank Lloyd Wright)
Kauffman Fallingwater house. (Frank Lloyd Wright)

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Fallingwater
View of the house from the waterfall

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About his style

Frank Lloyd Wright and his unique interpretation of designing a building gave him the fame as of, if not the, greatest architects of all time. He perfected a distinctly American style that emphasized simplicity and natural beauty in contrast to the intricate and ornate constructs that prevailed in Europe. With apparently endless energy and tenacity, Wright has designed over 1,100 buildings in his lifetime, nearly a third of which in the past decade.

Unity Temple in Oak Park
Unity Temple, Chicago, USA, (1906-1907)-architect Frank Lloyd Wright

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Wright was an above all a pioneer and a highly productive creator. Throughout his career, he retained the use of ornamental detail, earthy colors, and rich textures and effects. His sensible use of materials helped to control and perfect his dynamic expression of space, opening a new era in American architecture; too impetuous to be contained, his works would go on to touch Europe and, in the later years of his life, Japan.

Ennis House, Los Angeles, USA
Ennis House, Los Angeles, USA, (1920-1924)

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Tokyo, Japan Imperial Hotel in 1947
okyo, Japan- Imperial Hotel in 1947

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Info sources:

history1900s.about.com  

 www.britannica.com www.biography.com

For more references, please also visit: www.jbdesign.it/idesignpro