Age of Architects: Frank Lloyd Wright

Frank Lloyd Wright was an American architect, interior designer, writer, and educator, whose creative period spanned more than 70 years, designing more than 1,000 structures, of which 532 were completed.

Age of Architects: Frank Lloyd Wright

Wright believed in designing buildings that were in harmony with humanity and its environment. He called this organic architecture.

This philosophy was best exemplified by Fallingwater (1935), which has been called “the best all-time work of American architecture.” As a founder of organic architecture, Wright played a key role in the architectural movements of the twentieth century, influencing three generations of architects worldwide through his works.

Wright was the pioneer of what came to be called the Prairie School movement of architecture. In addition to his houses, Wright was an urban planner and designed original and innovative offices, churches, schools, skyscrapers, hotels, museums, and other structures. Wright was recognized in 1991 by the American Institute of Architects as “the greatest American architect of all time.”

Wright had a turbulent and sometimes controversial private life. He was married three times and had seven children!

Fallingwater

Wright designed the house located in rural south western Pennsylvania in 1935. The house was built partly over a waterfall .The house was designed as a weekend home for the family of Liliane and Edgar J. Kaufmann Snr, a Pittsburgh businessman. Fallingwater stands as one of Wright’s greatest masterpieces both for its dynamism and for its integration with its striking natural surroundings. Fallingwater has been described as an architectural tour de force of Wright’s organic architecture.

Wright’s passion for Japanese architecture was strongly reflected in the design of Fallingwater, particularly in the importance of interpenetrating exterior and interior spaces and the strong emphasis placed on harmony between man and nature

Fallingwater, Rahul Deshpande, Flickr Creative Commons

Fallingwater, Rahul Deshpande, Flickr Creative Commons

Taliesin

Taliesin was the estate of Wright in his native Wisconsin. The 600-acre (240 ha) property was developed on land that originally belonged to Wright’s maternal family.

Wright designed the main Taliesin home and studio after leaving his first wife to live with his mistress.The design of the original building was consistent with the Prairie style and was completed in 1911.

Taliesin, Kent Wang, Flickr Creative Commons

Taliesin, Kent Wang, Flickr Creative Commons

Taliesin West

Wright’s winter home and studio complex in Scottsdale, Arizona, was a laboratory for Wright from 1937 to his death in 1959 at the age of 91. Now the home of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation and archives, it continues today as the site of the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture.

Taliesin West, Artotem, Flickr Creative Commons

Taliesin West, Artotem, Flickr Creative Commons

Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, New York

Wright turned 80 shortly after World War II ended, yet remained busy. The Solomon R Guggenheim Museum in New York City occupied Wright for 16 years until his death and is probably his most recognized masterpiece. The building rises as a warm beige spiral from its site on 5th Avenue; its interior is similar to the inside of a seashell. Its unique central geometry was meant to allow visitors to easily experience Guggenheim’s collection of nonobjective geometric paintings by taking an elevator to the top level and then viewing artworks by walking down the slowly descending, central spiral ramp, the floor of which is embedded with circular shapes and triangular light fixtures to complement the geometric nature .

Guggenheim Museum- New York City, Sam valadi, Flickr Creative Commons

Guggenheim Museum – New York City, Sam valadi, Flickr Creative Commons

Johnson Wax Headquarters

The Johnson Wax Headquarters in Wisconsin were set in an industrial zone and Wright decided to create a sealed environment lit from above.The building features Wright’s interpretation of the streamlined Art Moderne style popular in the 1930s. In a break with Wright’s earlier Prairie School structures, the building features many curvilinear forms and subsequently required over 200 different curved bricks to create the sweeping curves of the interior and exterior. The mortar between the bricks is raked in traditional Wright-style to accentuate the horizontality of the building. The warm, reddish hue of the bricks was used in the polished concrete floor slab as well; the white stone trim and white tree-like columns create a subtle yet striking contrast. All of the furniture was designed for the building by Wright and it mirrored many of the building’s unique design features.

Johnson Wax, Kerry O'Connor, Flickr Creative CommonsJohnson Wax, Kerry O’Connor, Flickr Creative Commons

Main image: Fallingwater House – Frank Lloyd Wright (1937), Pablo Sanchez Martin, Flickr Creative Commons

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