The American Institute of Architects honored Frank Lloyd Wright in 1991 as “the greatest American architect of all time.” High praise indeed, but Wright is entirely deserving of such commendation as his prolific creativity has changed the landscape of American architecture.
Frank Lloyd Wright was born in Richland Center, Wisconsin on June 8, 1867. He began his career as a draftsman in Chicago, where he worked for Louis Sullivan until 1893, when he left to start his own practice.
Wright is most known for his Prairie style homes—flat structures built on horizontal lines and with open interior spaces. He coined the phrase “organic architecture” to describe his philosophy of design, which promoted harmony between architecture and the natural world. Wright passed away on April 9, 1959 at the age of ninety-two in Phoenix, Arizona at Taliesin West, a home of his own design.
Wright Home and Studio in Oak Park, Chicago
- The Wright Home and Studio was built in 1889 when Wright was just twenty-two years old. His home and studio in Oak Park is known as the birthplace of Prairie style. In its design, the young architect experimented with ideas that would become the foundation for his personal philosophy and style. Wright created an open feel to interior spaces through the use of wide doorways and skylights. The use of built-in furniture is also characteristic of his later work. Wright and his first wife, Catherine, lived in the Oak Park home for twenty years. It has since been declared a National Historic Monument.
Hollyhock House in Los Angeles, California
- Wright designed the Hollyhock House, which was built between 1919 and 1921, for oil heiress Aline Barnsdall. The house was built around a central garden courtyard and each of the large interior spaces connected the pivotal exterior space. The Hollyhock House is a classic demonstration of Wright’s intent to unify his designs with nature. The unique feel of this home is emphasized by the exterior walls, which are tilted an 85 degree angle to give it a Mayan feel. True to its name, Wright incorporated the shape of the hollyhock flowers into many design elements, including decorations on planters and designs in the stained glass windows.
Fallingwater in Mill Run, Pennsylvania
- Fallingwater was built in 1937 for Edgar J. Kaufmann and the home perfectly demonstrates Wright’s philosophy of integrating structure with the surrounding landscape. This famous house is constructed over an active waterfall. Another characteristic element of the Fallingwater home is the boulder that was incorporated to serve as the hearth of the fireplace and is the centerpiece of the home. Fallingwater in Mill Run, Pennsylvania is one of the most recognizable examples of Wright’s work.
These three magnificent homes are classic examples of the over 500 buildings that were constructed from Frank Lloyd Wright’s designs. The unique feel of his organic architecture, which so perfectly blended structure and nature, made him one of the most famous architects of the modern era.