Frank Lloyd Wright

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Frank Lloyd Wright
Frank Lloyd Wright portrait.jpg
Wright in 1954
Frank Lincoln Wright

(1867-06-08)June 8, 1867
DiedApril 9, 1959(1959-04-09) (aged 91)
Alma mater University of Wisconsin–Madison
Children7, including Lloyd Wright and John Lloyd Wright
Awards RIBA Gold Medal
AIA Gold Medal
Twenty-five Year Award (4)
Order of the Star of Italian Solidarity
Projects Usonian Houses
Broadacre City
Frank Lloyd Wright signature.svg

Frank Lloyd Wright (June 8, 1867 – April 9, 1959) 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. Wright believed in designing structures that were in harmony with humanity and its environment, a philosophy he called organic architecture. This philosophy was best exemplified by Fallingwater (1935), which has been called "the best all-time work of American architecture." [1] 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. [2]


Wright was the pioneer of what came to be called the Prairie School movement of architecture, and he also developed the concept of the Usonian home in Broadacre City, his unique vision for urban planning in the United States. In addition to his houses, Wright designed original and innovative offices, churches, schools, skyscrapers, hotels, museums, and other structures. He often designed interior elements for these buildings, as well, including furniture and stained glass. Wright wrote 20 books and many articles and was a popular lecturer in the United States and Europe. Wright was recognized in 1991 by the American Institute of Architects as "the greatest American architect of all time." [1] In 2019, a selection of his work became a listed World Heritage Site as The 20th-Century Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright.

Raised in rural Wisconsin, Wright studied civil engineering at the University of Wisconsin and then apprenticed in Chicago with noted architects Joseph Lyman Silsbee and Louis Sullivan. He opened his own successful Chicago practice in 1893, and developed an influential home and studio in Oak Park, Illinois. His colorful personal life made headlines: leaving his first wife, Catherine Lee "Kitty" Tobin, and their children for Mamah Borthwick Cheney, the murders by an employee at his Taliesin estate in 1914, his tempestuous marriage with second wife Miriam Noel, and his relationship with Olga (Olgivanna) Lazovich Hinzenburg, who became his third wife in 1928.

Early years


Frank Lloyd Wright was born in the farming town of Richland Center, Wisconsin. Family records show that he was christened as "Frank Lincoln Wright" (possibly in honor of Abraham Lincoln) when born on June 8, 1867. Writer Ada Louise Huxtable wrote that the family name "Lloyd" was used shortly thereafter, [3] but biographer Meryle Secrest claims that Wright himself adopted "Lloyd" at 18, after his parents' divorce in 1884. [4]

Wright's father, William Cary Wright (1825–1904), was an orator, music teacher, occasional lawyer, and itinerant minister. [3] He was also a published composer. [5] Wright's mother, Anna Lloyd Jones (1838/391923), met William Cary Wright while working as a county school teacher when William was the superintendent of schools for Richland County.

Originally from Massachusetts, William Wright had been a Baptist minister, but he later joined his wife's family in the Unitarian faith. Anna was a member of the well-known Lloyd Jones clan who had emigrated from Wales to Spring Green, Wisconsin. One of Anna's brothers was Jenkin Lloyd Jones, an important figure in the spread of the Unitarian faith in the Midwest. Both of Wright's parents were strong-willed individuals with artistic interests that they passed on to him.


According to Wright's autobiography, his mother declared when she was expecting that her first child would grow up to build beautiful buildings. She decorated his nursery with engravings of English cathedrals torn from a periodical to encourage the infant's ambition. [6] In 1870, the family moved to Weymouth, Massachusetts, where William ministered to a small congregation.

In 1876, Anna visited the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia, where she saw an exhibit of educational blocks created by Friedrich Wilhelm August Fröbel. The blocks, known as Froebel Gifts, were the foundation of his innovative kindergarten curriculum. Anna, a trained teacher, was excited by the program and bought a set with which young Wright spent much time playing. The blocks in the set were geometrically shaped and could be assembled in various combinations to form three-dimensional compositions. In his autobiography, Wright described the influence of these exercises on his approach to design: "For several years, I sat at the little kindergarten table-top… and played… with the cube, the sphere and the triangle—these smooth wooden maple blocks… All are in my fingers to this day… " [7] Many of Wright's buildings are notable for their geometrical clarity.

The Wright family struggled financially in Weymouth and returned to Spring Green, where the supportive Lloyd Jones family could help William find employment. They settled in Madison, where William taught music lessons and served as the secretary to the newly formed Unitarian society. Although William was a distant parent, he shared his love of music, especially the works of Johann Sebastian Bach, with his children.

Soon after Wright turned 14, his parents separated. In 1884 William sued for a divorce from Anna on the grounds of "… emotional cruelty and physical violence and spousal abandonment." [8] William left Wisconsin after the divorce was granted in 1885. Wright claimed he never saw his father again. [9]

Education (1885–1887)

Wright attended Madison High School; he graduated in 1885. [10] In 1886, he was admitted to the University of Wisconsin–Madison as a special student. While there, Wright joined Phi Delta Theta fraternity, [11] took classes part-time for two semesters, and worked with Allan D. Conover, a professor of civil engineering. [12] Wright left the school without taking a degree, although he was granted an honorary doctorate of fine arts from the university in 1955. [13]

Early career

Silsbee and other early work experience (1887–1888)

In 1887, Wright arrived in Chicago in search of employment. As a result of the devastating Great Chicago Fire of 1871 and a population boom, new development was plentiful. Wright later recalled that while his first impressions of Chicago were that of grimy neighborhoods, crowded streets, and disappointing architecture, he was determined to find work. Within days, and after interviews with several prominent firms, he was hired as a draftsman with the architectural firm of Joseph Lyman Silsbee. [14] Wright previously collaborated with Silsbee—accredited as the draftsman and the construction supervisor—on the 1886 Unity Chapel for Wright's family in Spring Green. [15] While with the firm, he also worked on two other family projects: All Souls Church in Chicago for his uncle, Jenkin Lloyd Jones, and the Hillside Home School I in Spring Green for two of his aunts. [16] Other draftsmen who worked for Silsbee in 1887 included future architects Cecil Corwin, George W. Maher, and George G. Elmslie. Wright soon befriended Corwin, with whom he lived until he found a permanent home.

Feeling that he was underpaid for the quality of his work for Silsbee (at $8 a week), the young draftsman quit and found work as a designer at the firm of Beers, Clay, and Dutton. However, Wright soon realized that he was not ready to handle building design by himself; he left his new job to return to Joseph Silsbee—this time with a raise in salary. [17] Although Silsbee adhered mainly to Victorian and Revivalist architecture, Wright found his work to be more "gracefully picturesque" than the other "brutalities" of the period. [18] Wright aspired for more progressive work.

Adler & Sullivan (1888–1893)

Wright learned that the Chicago firm of Adler & Sullivan was "looking for someone to make the finished drawings for the interior of the Auditorium Building". [19] Wright demonstrated that he was a competent impressionist of Louis Sullivan's ornamental designs and two short interviews later, was an official apprentice in the firm. [20] Wright did not get along well with Sullivan's other draftsmen; he wrote that several violent altercations occurred between them during the first years of his apprenticeship. For that matter, Sullivan showed very little respect for his employees, as well. [21] In spite of this, "Sullivan took [Wright] under his wing and gave him great design responsibility." As an act of respect, Wright would later refer to Sullivan as Lieber Meister (German for "Dear Master"). [22] He also formed a bond with office foreman Paul Mueller. Wright later engaged Mueller in the constrution of several of his public and commercial buildings between 1903 and 1923. [23]

Wright's home in Oak Park, Illinois (1889) Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio (west side zoom).JPG
Wright's home in Oak Park, Illinois (1889)

On June 1, 1889, Wright married his first wife, Catherine Lee "Kitty" Tobin (1871–1959). The two had met around a year earlier during activities at All Souls Church. Sullivan did his part to facilitate the financial success of the young couple by granting Wright a five-year employment contract. Wright made one more request: "Mr. Sullivan, if you want me to work for you as long as five years, couldn't you lend me enough money to build a little house?" [24] With Sullivan's $5,000 loan, Wright purchased a lot at the corner of Chicago and Forest Avenues in the suburb of Oak Park. The existing Gothic Revival house was given to his mother, while a compact shingle style house was built alongside for Wright and Catherine. [25]

By 1890, Wright had an office next to Sullivan's that he shared with friend and draftsman George Elmslie, who had been hired by Sullivan at Wright's request. [23] [26] Wright had risen to head draftsman and handled all residential design work in the office. As a general rule, the firm of Adler & Sullivan did not design or build houses, but would oblige when asked by the clients of their important commercial projects. Wright was occupied by the firm's major commissions during office hours, so house designs were relegated to evening and weekend overtime hours at his home studio. He later claimed total responsibility for the design of these houses, but a careful inspection of their architectural style (and accounts from historian Robert Twombly) suggests that Sullivan dictated the overall form and motifs of the residential works; Wright's design duties were often reduced to detailing the projects from Sullivan's sketches. [26] During this time, Wright worked on Sullivan's bungalow (1890) and the James A. Charnley bungalow (1890) in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, the Berry-MacHarg House, James A. Charnley House (both 1891), and the Louis Sullivan House (1892), all in Chicago. [27] [28]

The Walter Gale House, Oak Park, Illinois (1893). While a Queen Anne in style, it features window bands and a cantilevered porch roof which hint at Wright's developing aesthetics Oak Park Il Walter Gale House4.jpg
The Walter Gale House, Oak Park, Illinois (1893). While a Queen Anne in style, it features window bands and a cantilevered porch roof which hint at Wright's developing aesthetics

Despite Sullivan's loan and overtime salary, Wright was constantly short on funds. Wright admitted that his poor finances were likely due to his expensive tastes in wardrobe and vehicles, and the extra luxuries he designed into his house. To supplement his income and repay his debts, Wright accepted independent commissions for at least nine houses. These "bootlegged" houses, as he later called them, were conservatively designed in variations of the fashionable Queen Anne and Colonial Revival styles. Nevertheless, unlike the prevailing architecture of the period, each house emphasized simple geometric massing and contained features such as bands of horizontal windows, occasional cantilevers, and open floor plans, which would become hallmarks of his later work. Eight of these early houses remain today, including the Thomas Gale, Robert Parker, George Blossom, and Walter Gale houses. [29]

As with the residential projects for Adler & Sullivan, he designed his bootleg houses on his own time. Sullivan knew nothing of the independent works until 1893, when he recognized that one of the houses was unmistakably a Frank Lloyd Wright design. This particular house, built for Allison Harlan, was only blocks away from Sullivan's townhouse in the Chicago community of Kenwood. Aside from the location, the geometric purity of the composition and balcony tracery in the same style as the Charnley House likely gave away Wright's involvement. Since Wright's five-year contract forbade any outside work, the incident led to his departure from Sullivan's firm. [28] Several stories recount the break in the relationship between Sullivan and Wright; even Wright later told two different versions of the occurrence. In An Autobiography, Wright claimed that he was unaware that his side ventures were a breach of his contract. When Sullivan learned of them, he was angered and offended; he prohibited any further outside commissions and refused to issue Wright the deed to his Oak Park house until after he completed his five years. Wright could not bear the new hostility from his master and thought the situation was unjust. He "threw down [his] pencil and walked out of the Adler & Sullivan office never to return." Dankmar Adler, who was more sympathetic to Wright's actions, later sent him the deed. [30] However, Wright told his Taliesin apprentices (as recorded by Edgar Tafel) that Sullivan fired him on the spot upon learning of the Harlan House. Tafel also recounted that Wright had Cecil Corwin sign several of the bootleg jobs, indicating that Wright was aware of their illegal nature. [28] [31] Regardless of the correct series of events, Wright and Sullivan did not meet or speak for 12 years.

Transition and experimentation (1893–1900)

After leaving Louis Sullivan's firm, Wright established his own practice on the top floor of the Sullivan-designed Schiller Building on Randolph Street in Chicago. Wright chose to locate his office in the building because the tower location reminded him of the office of Adler & Sullivan. Although Cecil Corwin followed Wright and set up his architecture practice in the same office, the two worked independently and did not consider themselves partners. [32]

In 1896, Wright moved out of the Schiller Building and into the nearby and newly completed Steinway Hall building. The loft space was shared with Robert C. Spencer, Jr., Myron Hunt, and Dwight H. Perkins. [33] These young architects, inspired by the Arts and Crafts Movement and the philosophies of Louis Sullivan, formed what became known as the Prairie School. [34] They were joined by Perkins' apprentice, Marion Mahony, who in 1895 transferred to Wright's team of drafters and took over production of his presentation drawings and watercolor renderings. Mahony, the third woman to be licensed as an architect in Illinois and one of the first licensed female architects in the U.S., also designed furniture, leaded glass windows, and light fixtures, among other features, for Wright's houses. Between 1894 and the early 1910s, several other leading Prairie School architects and many of Wright's future employees launched their careers in the offices of Steinway Hall. [35] [36]

William H. Winslow House in River Forest, Illinois (1893) William H. Winslow House Front Facade.jpg
William H. Winslow House in River Forest, Illinois (1893)

Wright's projects during this period followed two basic models. His first independent commission, the Winslow House, combined Sullivanesque ornamentation with the emphasis on simple geometry and horizontal lines. The Francis Apartments (1895, demolished 1971), Heller House (1896), Rollin Furbeck House (1897) and Husser House (1899, demolished 1926) were designed in the same mode. For his more conservative clients, Wright designed more traditional dwellings. These included the Dutch Colonial Revival style Bagley House (1894), Tudor Revival style Moore House I (1895), and Queen Anne style Charles E. Roberts House (1896). [37] While Wright could not afford to turn down clients over disagreements in taste, even his most conservative designs retained simplified massing and occasional Sullivan-inspired details. [38]

Nathan G. Moore House, Oak Park, Illinois (1895) Nathan G. Moore house (1895), Oak Park, IL, rear.JPG
Nathan G. Moore House, Oak Park, Illinois (1895)

Soon after the completion of the Winslow House in 1894, Edward Waller, a friend and former client, invited Wright to meet Chicago architect and planner Daniel Burnham. Burnham had been impressed by the Winslow House and other examples of Wright's work; he offered to finance a four-year education at the École des Beaux-Arts and two years in Rome. To top it off, Wright would have a position in Burnham's firm upon his return. In spite of guaranteed success and support of his family, Wright declined the offer. Burnham, who had directed the classical design of the World's Columbian Exposition, was a major proponent of the Beaux Arts movement, thought that Wright was making a foolish mistake. Yet for Wright, the classical education of the École lacked creativity and was altogether at odds with his vision of modern American architecture. [39] [40]

Wright's studio viewed from Chicago Avenue (1898) Frank LLoyd Wright Studio Chicago Frontage.jpg
Wright's studio viewed from Chicago Avenue (1898)

Wright relocated his practice to his home in 1898 to bring his work and family lives closer. This move made further sense as the majority of the architect's projects at that time were in Oak Park or neighboring River Forest. The birth of three more children prompted Wright to sacrifice his original home studio space for additional bedrooms and necessitated his design and construction of an expansive studio addition to the north of the main house. The space, which included a hanging balcony within the two-story drafting room, was one of Wright's first experiments with innovative structure. The studio embodied Wright's developing aesthetics and would become the laboratory from which his next 10 years of architectural creations would emerge. [41]

Prairie houses (1900–1914)

By 1901, Wright had completed about 50 projects, including many houses in Oak Park. As his son John Lloyd Wright wrote:

"William Eugene Drummond, Francis Barry Byrne, Walter Burley Griffin, Albert Chase McArthur, Marion Mahony, Isabel Roberts, and George Willis were the draftsmen. Five men, two women. They wore flowing ties, and smocks suitable to the realm. The men wore their hair like Papa, all except Albert, he didn't have enough hair. They worshiped Papa! Papa liked them! I know that each one of them was then making valuable contributions to the pioneering of the modern American architecture for which my father gets the full glory, headaches, and recognition today!" [42]

Arthur Heurtley House, Oak Park, Illinois (1902) Arthur Heurtley House (1902), Oak Park, IL.JPG
Arthur Heurtley House, Oak Park, Illinois (1902)
Darwin D. Martin House, Buffalo, New York (1904) Darwin D. Martin House.jpg
Darwin D. Martin House, Buffalo, New York (1904)
Hillside Home School, Taliesin, Spring Green, Wisconsin (1902) Taliesin600.jpg
Hillside Home School, Taliesin, Spring Green, Wisconsin (1902)

Between 1900 and 1901, Frank Lloyd Wright completed four houses which have since been identified as the onset of the "Prairie style". Two, the Hickox and Bradley Houses, were the last transitional step between Wright's early designs and the Prairie creations. [43] Meanwhile, the Thomas House and Willits House received recognition as the first mature examples of the new style. [44] [45] At the same time, Wright gave his new ideas for the American house widespread awareness through two publications in the Ladies' Home Journal . The articles were in response to an invitation from the president of Curtis Publishing Company, Edward Bok, as part of a project to improve modern house design. "A Home in a Prairie Town" and "A Small House with Lots of Room in it" appeared respectively in the February and July 1901 issues of the journal. Although neither of the affordable house plans was ever constructed, Wright received increased requests for similar designs in following years. [43] Wright came to Buffalo and designed homes for three of the company's executives, including the Darwin D. Martin House in 1904. Other Wright houses considered to be masterpieces of the Prairie Style are the Frederick Robie House in Chicago and the Avery and Queene Coonley House in Riverside, Illinois. The Robie House, with its soaring, cantilevered roof lines, supported by a 110-foot-long (34-m) channel of steel, is the most dramatic. Its living and dining areas form virtually one uninterrupted space. With this and other buildings, included in the publication of the Wasmuth Portfolio (1910), Wright's work became known to European architects and had a profound influence on them after World War I. It is sometimes called the "cornerstone of modernism".

Wright's residential designs of this era were known as "prairie houses" because the designs complemented the land around Chicago. Prairie-style houses often have a combination of these features: One or two-stories with one-story projections, an open floor plan, low-pitched roofs with broad, overhanging eaves, strong horizontal lines, ribbons of windows (often casements), a prominent central chimney, built-in stylized cabinetry, and a wide use of natural materials—especially stone and wood. [46]

By 1909, Wright had begun to reject the upper-middle-class Prairie Style single-family house model, shifting his focus to a more democratic architecture. [47] Wright went to Europe in 1909 with a portfolio of his work and presented it to Berlin publisher Ernst Wasmuth. [48] Studies and Executed Buildings of Frank Lloyd Wright, published in 1911, was the first major exposure of Wright's work in Europe. The work contained more than 100 lithographs of Wright's designs, and is commonly known as the Wasmuth Portfolio.

Notable public works (1900–1922)

Wright designed the house of Cornell's chapter of Alpha Delta Phi literary society (1900), the Hillside Home School, built for his aunts in Spring Green, Wisconsin (1902) and the Unity Temple (1905) in Oak Park, Illinois. [49] [50] As a lifelong Unitarian and member of Unity Temple, Wright offered his services to the congregation after their church burned down, working on the building from 1905 to 1909. Wright later said that Unity Temple was the edifice in which he ceased to be an architect of structure, and became an architect of space.

Wright in 1926 Frank Lloyd Wright LC-USZ62-36384.jpg
Wright in 1926

Other early notable public buildings included the Larkin Administration Building (1905) as well as the Geneva Inn (Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, 1911), the Midway Gardens (Chicago, Illinois, 1913), the Banff National Park Pavilion (Alberta, Canada, 1914), and the Imperial Hotel (Tokyo, 1922).

Textile concrete block system

In the early 1920s, Wright designed a "textile" concrete block system reinforced by an internal system of bars. The system of precast blocks, he wrote, enabled "fabrication as infinite in color, texture, and variety as in that rug." [51] Wright first used his textile block system on the Millard House in Pasadena , California, in 1923. Typically Wrightian is the joining of the structure to its site by a series of terraces that reach out into and reorder the landscape, making it an integral part of the architect's vision. [52] With the Ennis House and the Samuel Freeman House (both 1923), Wright had further opportunities to test the limits of the textile block system, including limited use in the Arizona Biltmore Hotel in 1927. [53] The Ennis house is now used in films, television, and print media to represent the future. [52] Wright's son, Lloyd Wright, supervised construction for the Storer, Freeman and Ennis Houses. Architectural historian Thomas Hines has suggested that Lloyd's contribution to these projects is often overlooked. [54]

After World War II, Wright updated the concrete block system, calling it the "Usonian Automatic" system, resulting in the construction of several notable homes. As he explained in The Natural House (1954), "The original blocks are made on the site by ramming concrete into wood or metal wrap-around forms, with one outside face (which may be pattered), and one rear or inside face, generally coffered, for lightness.” [51]

Midlife problems

Family abandonment

Aerial photo of Taliesin, Spring Green, Wisconsin Taliesin-aerial-600.jpg
Aerial photo of Taliesin, Spring Green, Wisconsin

In 1903, while Wright was designing a house for Edwin Cheney (a neighbor in Oak Park), he became enamored with Cheney's wife, Mamah. Mamah Borthwick Cheney was a modern woman with interests outside the home. She was an early feminist, and Wright viewed her as his intellectual equal. Their relationship became the talk of the town; they often could be seen taking rides in Wright's automobile through Oak Park. In 1909, Wright and Mamah Cheney met up in Europe, leaving their spouses and children behind. Wright remained in Europe for almost a year, first in Florence, Italy (where he lived with his eldest son Lloyd) and, later, in Fiesole, Italy, where he lived with Mamah. During this time, Edwin Cheney granted Mamah a divorce, though Kitty still refused to grant one to her husband. After Wright returned to the United States in October 1910, he persuaded his mother to buy land for him in Spring Green, Wisconsin. The land, bought on April 10, 1911, was adjacent to land held by his mother's family, the Lloyd-Joneses. Wright began to build himself a new home, which he called Taliesin , by May 1911. The recurring theme of Taliesin also came from his mother's side: Taliesin in Welsh mythology was a poet, magician, and priest. The family motto, "Y Gwir yn Erbyn y Byd" ("The Truth Against the World"), was taken from the Welsh poet Iolo Morganwg , who also had a son named Taliesin. The motto is still used today as the cry of the druids and chief bard of the Eisteddfod in Wales. [55]

Catastrophe at Taliesin studio

On August 15, 1914, while Wright was working in Chicago, Julian Carlton, a male servant who had been hired several months earlier, set fire to the living quarters of Taliesin and murdered seven people with an axe as the fire burned. [56] The dead included Mamah; her two children, John and Martha Cheney; a gardener (David Lindblom); a draftsman (Emil Brodelle); a workman (Thomas Brunker); and another workman's son (Ernest Weston). Two people survived the mayhem, one of whom, William Weston, helped to put out the fire that almost completely consumed the residential wing of the house. Carlton swallowed hydrochloric acid immediately following the attack in an attempt to kill himself. [56] He was nearly lynched on the spot, but was taken to the Dodgeville jail. [56] Carlton died from starvation seven weeks after the attack, despite medical attention. [56]

Divorce and further troubles

In 1922, Kitty Wright finally granted Wright a divorce. Under the terms of the divorce, Wright was required to wait one year before he could marry his then-mistress, Maude "Miriam" Noel. In 1923, Wright's mother, Anna (Lloyd Jones) Wright, died. Wright wed Miriam Noel in November 1923, but her addiction to morphine led to the failure of the marriage in less than one year. In 1924, after the separation, but while still married, Wright met Olga (Olgivanna) Lazovich Hinzenburg at a Petrograd Ballet performance in Chicago. They moved in together at Taliesin in 1925, and soon Olgivanna was pregnant with their daughter, Iovanna, born on December 2, 1925.

On April 20, 1925, another fire destroyed the bungalow at Taliesin. Crossed wires from a newly installed telephone system were deemed to be responsible for the blaze, which destroyed a collection of Japanese prints that Wright estimated to be worth $250,000 to $500,000. [57] Wright rebuilt the living quarters, naming the home "Taliesin III".

In 1926, Olga's ex-husband, Vlademar Hinzenburg, sought custody of his daughter, Svetlana. In October 1926, Wright and Olgivanna were accused of violating the Mann Act and arrested in Tonka Bay, Minnesota. [58] The charges were later dropped.

Wright and Miriam Noel's divorce was finalized in 1927. Wright was again required to wait for one year before remarrying. Wright and Olgivanna married in 1928. [59] [60]

Later career

Taliesin Fellowship

In 1932, Wright and his wife Olgivanna put out a call for students to come to Taliesin to study and work under Wright while they learned architecture and spiritual development. (Olgivanna Wright had been a student of G. I. Gurdjieff). Twenty-three came to live and work that year, as did many more in the years that followed. Considerable controversy existed over the living conditions and education of the fellows; recent books and articles have given conflicting and often unflattering pictures of their treatment. [61] [62] [63] The Fellowship has evolved into what is now the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture, an accredited school. [64] Wright was reputedly a difficult person to work with. One apprentice wrote: "He is devoid of consideration and has a blind spot regarding others' qualities. Yet I believe, that a year in his studio would be worth any sacrifice." [65]

Usonian Houses

Charles Weltzheimer Residence, Oberlin, Ohio (1948) Weltzheimer Johnson House 2010.jpg
Charles Weltzheimer Residence, Oberlin, Ohio (1948)

Wright is responsible for a series of concepts of suburban development united under the term Broadacre City. He proposed the idea in his book The Disappearing City in 1932, and unveiled a 12-square-foot (1.1 m2) model of this community of the future, showing it in several venues in the following years. Concurrent with the development of Broadacre City, also referred to as Usonia, Wright conceived a new type of dwelling that came to be known as the Usonian House. Although an early version of the form can be seen in the Malcolm Willey House (1934) in Minneapolis, the Usonian ideal emerged most completely in the Herbert and Katherine Jacobs First House (1937) in Madison, Wisconsin. Designed on a gridded concrete slab that integrated the house's radiant heating system, the house featured new approaches to construction, including walls composed of a "sandwich" of wood siding, plywood cores and building paper—a significant change from typically framed walls. [66] Usonian houses commonly featured flat roofs and were usually constructed without basements or attics, all features that Wright had been promoting since the early 20th century.

Usonian houses were Wright's response to the transformation of domestic life that occurred in the early 20th century when servants had become less prominent or completely absent from most American households. By developing homes with progressively more open plans, Wright allotted the woman of the house a 'workspace', as he often called the kitchen, where she could keep track of and be available for the children and/or guests in the dining room. [67] As in the Prairie Houses, Usonian living areas had a fireplace as a point of focus. Bedrooms, typically isolated and relatively small, encouraged the family to gather in the main living areas. The conception of spaces instead of rooms was a development of the Prairie ideal. The built-in furnishings related to the Arts and Crafts movement's principles which influenced Wright's early work. Spatially and in terms of their construction, the Usonian houses represented a new model for independent living, and allowed dozens of clients to live in a Wright-designed house at relatively low cost. His Usonian homes set a new style for suburban design that influenced countless postwar developers. [68] Many features of modern American homes date back to Wright: open plans, slab-on-grade foundations, and simplified construction techniques that allowed more mechanization and efficiency in building.

Significant later works

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York City (1959) Guggenheim museum exterior.jpg
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York City (1959)
Fallingwater, Mill Run, Pennsylvania (1937) Wrightfallingwater.jpg
Fallingwater, Mill Run, Pennsylvania (1937)

Fallingwater , one of Wright's most famous private residences (completed 1937), was built for Mr. and Mrs. Edgar J. Kaufmann, Sr., at Mill Run, Pennsylvania. Constructed over a 30-foot waterfall, it was designed according to Wright's desire to place the occupants close to the natural surroundings. The house was intended to be more of a family getaway, rather than a live-in home. [69] The construction is a series of cantilevered balconies and terraces, using limestone for all verticals and concrete for the horizontals. The house cost $155,000, including the architect's fee of $8,000. It was one of Wright's most expensive pieces. [69] Kaufmann's own engineers argued that the design was not sound. They were overruled by Wright, but the contractor secretly added extra steel to the horizontal concrete elements. In 1994, Robert Silman and Associates examined the building and developed a plan to restore the structure. In the late 1990s, steel supports were added under the lowest cantilever until a detailed structural analysis could be done. In March 2002, post-tensioning of the lowest terrace was completed.

Taliesin West, Wright's winter home and studio complex in Scottsdale, Arizona, was a laboratory for Wright from 1937 to his death in 1959. 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. 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 (1943–1959) [70] and is probably his most recognized masterpiece. The building rises as a warm beige spiral from its site on Fifth 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 of the structure. However, when the museum was completed, a number of details of Wright's design were ignored, such as his desire for the interior to be painted off-white.

Price Tower in Bartlesville, Oklahoma (1956) Price tower.jpg
Price Tower in Bartlesville, Oklahoma (1956)

The only realized skyscraper designed by Wright is the Price Tower, a 19-story tower in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. It is also one of the two existing vertically oriented Wright structures (the other is the S.C. Johnson Wax Research Tower in Racine, Wisconsin). The Price Tower was commissioned by Harold C. Price of the H. C. Price Company, a local oil pipeline and chemical firm. On March 29, 2007, Price Tower was designated a National Historic Landmark by the United States Department of the Interior, one of only 20 such properties in Oklahoma. [71]

Monona Terrace, originally designed in 1937 as municipal offices for Madison, Wisconsin, was completed in 1997 on the original site, using a variation of Wright's final design for the exterior, with the interior design altered by its new purpose as a convention center. The "as-built" design was carried out by Wright's apprentice Tony Puttnam. Monona Terrace was accompanied by controversy throughout the 60 years between the original design and the completion of the structure. [72]

Florida Southern College, located in Lakeland, Florida, constructed 12 (out of 18 planned) Frank Lloyd Wright buildings between 1941 and 1958 as part of the Child of the Sun project. It is the world's largest single-site collection of Frank Lloyd Wright architecture. [73]

Personal style and concepts

Design elements

An open office area in Wright's Johnson Wax headquarters complex, Racine, Wisconsin (1939) Johnsonwax02.jpg
An open office area in Wright's Johnson Wax headquarters complex, Racine, Wisconsin (1939)

His Prairie houses use themed, coordinated design elements (often based on plant forms) that are repeated in windows, carpets, and other fittings. He made innovative use of new building materials such as precast concrete blocks, glass bricks, and zinc cames (instead of the traditional lead) for his leadlight windows, and he famously used Pyrex glass tubing as a major element in the Johnson Wax Headquarters. Wright was also one of the first architects to design and install custom-made electric light fittings, including some of the first electric floor lamps, and his very early use of the then-novel spherical glass lampshade (a design previously not possible due to the physical restrictions of gas lighting). In 1897, Wright received a patent for "Prism Glass Tiles" that were used in storefronts to direct light toward the interior. [74] Wright fully embraced glass in his designs and found that it fit well into his philosophy of organic architecture. According to Wright's organic theory, all components of the building should appear unified, as though they belong together. Nothing should be attached to it without considering the effect on the whole. To unify the house to its site, Wright often used large expanses of glass to blur the boundary between the indoors and outdoors. [75] Glass allowed for interaction and viewing of the outdoors while still protecting from the elements. In 1928, Wright wrote an essay on glass in which he compared it to the mirrors of nature: lakes, rivers and ponds. [76] One of Wright's earliest uses of glass in his works was to string panes of glass along whole walls in an attempt to create light screens to join together solid walls. By using this large amount of glass, Wright sought to achieve a balance between the lightness and airiness of the glass and the solid, hard walls. Arguably, Wright's best-known art glass is that of the Prairie style. The simple geometric shapes that yield to very ornate and intricate windows represent some of the most integral ornamentation of his career. [77]

Wright also designed some of his own clothing. His fashion sense was unique and he usually wore expensive suits, flowing neckties, and capes. He had a fascination with automobiles, purchasing his first car in 1909, a Stoddard-Dayton roadster, and owned many exotic vehicles over the years. During the cash-strapped Depression, Wright drove cheaper vehicles. Some of his last cars in the 1950s included four Volkswagens and a Chevrolet Nomad wagon along with flashier articles such as a Jaguar Mark VII. He owned some 50 cars between 1909 and his death, of which 10 are known to survive.

Influences and collaborations

Wright-designed window in Robie House, Chicago (1906) RobieHouseWindows ChicagoIL.jpg
Wright-designed window in Robie House, Chicago (1906)

Wright strongly believed in individualism and did not affiliate with the American Institute of Architects during his career, going so far as to call the organization "a harbor of refuge for the incompetent," and "a form of refined gangsterism." When an associate referred to him as "an old amateur" Wright confirmed, "I am the oldest." [78] Wright rarely credited any influences on his designs, but most architects, historians and scholars agree he had five major influences:

  1. Louis Sullivan, whom he considered to be his Lieber Meister (dear master)
  2. Nature, particularly shapes/forms and colors/patterns of plant life
  3. Music (his favorite composer was Ludwig van Beethoven)
  4. Japanese art, prints and buildings
  5. Froebel Gifts [79]

He also routinely claimed the work of architects and architectural designers who were his employees as his own designs, and also claimed that the rest of the Prairie School architects were merely his followers, imitators, and subordinates. [80] As with any architect, though, Wright worked in a collaborative process and drew his ideas from the work of others. In his earlier days, Wright worked with some of the top architects of the Chicago School, including Sullivan. In his Prairie School days, Wright's office was populated by many talented architects, including William Eugene Drummond, John Van Bergen, Isabel Roberts, Francis Barry Byrne, Albert McArthur, Marion Mahony Griffin, and Walter Burley Griffin.

The Czech-born architect Antonin Raymond, recognized as the father of modern architecture in Japan, worked for Wright at Taliesin and led the construction of the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo. He subsequently stayed in Japan and opened his own practice. Rudolf Schindler also worked for Wright on the Imperial Hotel. His own work is often credited as influencing Wright's Usonian houses. Schindler's friend Richard Neutra also worked briefly for Wright and became an internationally successful architect.

Later, in the Taliesin days, Wright employed many architects and artists who later become notable, such as Aaron Green, John Lautner, E. Fay Jones, Henry Klumb, William Bernoudy, and Paolo Soleri.

Community planning

Frank Lloyd Wright was interested in site and community planning throughout his career. His commissions and theories on urban design began as early as 1900 and continued until his death. He had 41 commissions on the scale of community planning or urban design. [81]

His thoughts on suburban design started in 1900 with a proposed subdivision layout for Charles E. Roberts entitled the "Quadruple Block Plan." This design strayed from traditional suburban lot layouts and set houses on small square blocks of four equal-sized lots surrounded on all sides by roads instead of straight rows of houses on parallel streets. The houses, which used the same design as published in "A Home in a Prairie Town" from the Ladies' Home Journal, were set toward the center of the block to maximize the yard space and included private space in the center. This also allowed for far more interesting views from each house. Although this plan was never realized, Wright published the design in the Wasmuth Portfolio in 1910. [82]

The more ambitious designs of entire communities were exemplified by his entry into the City Club of Chicago Land Development Competition in 1913. The contest was for the development of a suburban quarter section. This design expanded on the Quadruple Block Plan and included several social levels. The design shows the placement of the upscale homes in the most desirable areas and the blue collar homes and apartments separated by parks and common spaces. The design also included all the amenities of a small city: schools, museums, markets, etc. [83] This view of decentralization was later reinforced by theoretical Broadacre City design. The philosophy behind his community planning was decentralization. The new development must be away from the cities. In this decentralized America, all services and facilities could coexist "factories side by side with farm and home." [84]

Notable community planning designs:

Japanese art

Though most famous as an architect, Wright was an active dealer in Japanese art, primarily ukiyo-e woodblock prints. He frequently served as both architect and art dealer to the same clients; he designed a home, then provided the art to fill it. [86] For a time, Wright made more from selling art than from his work as an architect. Wright was also an avid collector of Japanese prints and used them as teaching aids with his apprentices in what were called "print parties". [87]

Wright first traveled to Japan in 1905, where he bought hundreds of prints. The following year, he helped organize the world's first retrospective exhibition of works by Hiroshige, held at the Art Institute of Chicago. [86] For many years, he was a major presence in the Japanese art world, selling a great number of works to prominent collectors such as John Spaulding of Boston, [86] and to prominent museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. [88] He penned a book on Japanese art in 1912. [88]

In 1920, however, rival art dealers began to spread rumors that Wright was selling retouched prints; this, combined with Wright's tendency to live beyond his means, and other factors, led to great financial troubles for the architect. Though he provided his clients with genuine prints as replacements for those he was accused of retouching, this marked the end of the high point of his career as an art dealer. [88] He was forced to sell off much of his art collection in 1927 to pay off outstanding debts; the Bank of Wisconsin claimed his Taliesin home the following year, and sold thousands of his prints, for only one dollar a piece, to collector Edward Burr Van Vleck. [86]

Wright continued to collect and deal in prints until his death in 1959, using prints as collateral for loans, often relying upon his art business to remain financially solvent. [88]

The extent of his dealings in Japanese art went largely unknown, or underestimated, among art historians for decades until, in 1980, Julia Meech, then associate curator of Japanese art at the Metropolitan Museum, began researching the history of the museum's collection of Japanese prints. She discovered "a three-inch-deep 'clump of 400 cards' from 1918, each listing a print bought from the same seller—'F. L. Wright'" and a number of letters exchanged between Wright and the museum's first curator of Far Eastern Art, Sigisbert C. Bosch Reitz, in 1918-22. [88] These discoveries, and subsequent research, led to a renewed understanding of Wright's career as an art dealer.



On April 4, 1959, Wright was hospitalized for abdominal pains and was operated on April 6. He seemed to be recovering, but he died quietly on April 9. [89] After his death, Wright's legacy was plagued with turmoil for years. [90] His third wife Olgivanna's dying wish had been that Wright, she, and her daughter by her first marriage all be cremated and interred together in a memorial garden being built at Taliesin West. According to his own wishes, Wright's body had lain in the Lloyd-Jones cemetery, next to the Unity Chapel, near Taliesin in Wisconsin. Although Olgivanna had taken no legal steps to move Wright's remains and against the wishes of other family members, as well as the Wisconsin legislature, in 1985, Wright's remains were removed from his grave by members of the Taliesin Fellowship, cremated, and sent to Scottsdale, where they were later interred in the memorial garden. The original grave site in Wisconsin, now empty, is still marked with Wright's name. [91]


After Wright's death, most of his archives were stored at the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation in Taliesin (in Wisconsin), and Taliesin West (in Arizona). These collections included more than 23,000 architectural drawings, some 44,000 photographs, 600 manuscripts, and more than 300,000 pieces of office and personal correspondence. It also contained about 40 large-scale architectural models, most of which were constructed for MoMA's retrospective of Wright in 1940. [92] In 2012, to guarantee a high level of conservation and access, as well as to transfer the considerable financial burden of maintaining the archive, [93] the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation partnered with the Museum of Modern Art and the Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library to move the archive's content to New York. Wright's furniture and art collection remains with the foundation, which will also have a role in monitoring the archive. These three parties established an advisory group to oversee exhibitions, symposiums, events, and publications. [92]

Photographs and other archival materials are held by the Ryerson and Burnham Libraries at the Art Institute of Chicago. The architect's personal archives are located at Taliesin West in Scottsdale, Arizona. The Frank Lloyd Wright archives include photographs of his drawings, indexed correspondence beginning in the 1880s and continuing through Wright's life, and other ephemera. The Getty Research Center, Los Angeles, also has copies of Wright's correspondence and photographs of his drawings in their "Frank Lloyd Wright Special Collection". Wright's correspondence is indexed in An Index to the Taliesin Correspondence, ed. by Professor Anthony Alofsin, which is available at larger libraries.

Destroyed Wright buildings

Wright designed over 400 built structures [94] of which about 300 survive as of 2005. At least five have been lost to forces of nature: the waterfront house for W. L. Fuller in Pass Christian, Mississippi, destroyed by Hurricane Camille in August 1969; the Louis Sullivan Bungalow of Ocean Springs, Mississippi, destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005; and the Arinobu Fukuhara House (1918) in Hakone, Japan, destroyed in the 1923 Great Kantō earthquake. In January 2006, the Wilbur Wynant House in Gary, Indiana was destroyed by fire. [95] In 2018 the Arch Oboler complex in Malibu, California was gutted in the Woolsey fire. [96]

Imperial Hotel, Tokyo (1923) Imperial Hotel FFW 1.jpg
Imperial Hotel, Tokyo (1923)

Notable Wright buildings intentionally demolished: Midway Gardens (built 1913, demolished 1929), the Larkin Administration Building (built 1903, demolished 1950), the Francis Apartments and Francisco Terrace Apartments (Chicago, built 1895, demolished 1971 and 1974, respectively), the Geneva Inn (Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, built 1911, demolished 1970), and the Banff National Park Pavilion (built 1914, demolished 1934). The Imperial Hotel (built 1923) survived the 1923 Great Kantō earthquake, but was demolished in 1968 due to urban developmental pressures. [97] The Hoffman Auto Showroom in New York City (built 1954) was demolished in 2013. [98]

Unbuilt, or built after Wright's death


1966 U.S. postage stamp honoring Frank Lloyd Wright FrankLloydWright1966USstamp.jpg
1966 U.S. postage stamp honoring Frank Lloyd Wright

Later in his life (and after his death in 1959), Wright was accorded much honorary recognition for his lifetime achievements. He received a Gold Medal award from The Royal Institute of British Architects in 1941. The American Institute of Architects awarded him the AIA Gold Medal in 1949. That medal was a symbolic "burying the hatchet" between Wright and the AIA. In a radio interview, he commented, "Well, the AIA I never joined, and they know why. When they gave me the gold medal in Houston, I told them frankly why. Feeling that the architecture profession is all that's the matter with architecture, why should I join them?" [78] He was awarded the Franklin Institute's Frank P. Brown Medal in 1953. He received honorary degrees from several universities (including his alma mater, the University of Wisconsin), and several nations named him as an honorary board member to their national academies of art and/or architecture. In 2000, Fallingwater was named "The Building of the 20th century" in an unscientific "Top-Ten" poll taken by members attending the AIA annual convention in Philadelphia. On that list, Wright was listed along with many of the USA's other greatest architects including Eero Saarinen, I.M. Pei, Louis Kahn, Philip Johnson, and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe; he was the only architect who had more than one building on the list. The other three buildings were the Guggenheim Museum, the Frederick C. Robie House, and the Johnson Wax Building.

In 1992, the Madison Opera in Madison, Wisconsin, commissioned and premiered the opera Shining Brow , by composer Daron Hagen and librettist Paul Muldoon based on events early in Wright's life. The work has since received numerous revivals, including a June 2013 revival at Fallingwater, in Bull Run, Pennsylvania, by Opera Theater of Pittsburgh. In 2000, Work Song: Three Views of Frank Lloyd Wright , a play based on the relationship between the personal and working aspects of Wright's life, debuted at the Milwaukee Repertory Theater.

In 1966, the United States Postal Service honored Wright with a Prominent Americans series 2¢ postage stamp.

"So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright" is a song written by Paul Simon. Art Garfunkel has stated that the origin of the song came from his request that Simon write a song about the famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Simon himself stated that he knew nothing about Wright, but proceeded to write the song anyway. [99]

In 1957, Arizona made plans to construct a new capitol building. Believing that the submitted plans for the new capitol were tombs to the past, Frank Lloyd Wright offered Oasis as an alternative to the people of Arizona. [100] In 2004, one of the spires included in his design was erected in Scottsdale.

The city of Scottsdale, Arizona renamed a portion of Bell Road, a major east-west thoroughfare in the Phoenix metropolitan area, in honor of Frank Lloyd Wright.

Eight of Wright's buildings - Fallingwater, the Guggenheim Museum, the Hollyhock House, the Jacobs House, the Robie House, Taliesin, Taliesin West, and the Unity Temple - were inscribed on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites under the title The 20th-century Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright in July 2019. UNESCO stated that these buildings were "innovative solutions to the needs for housing, worship, work or leisure" and "had a strong impact on the development of modern architecture in Europe". [101] [102]


Frank Lloyd Wright was married three times, fathering four sons and three daughters. He also adopted Svetlana Milanoff, the daughter of his third wife, Olgivanna Lloyd Wright. [103]

His wives were:

His children with Catherine were:

His children with Olgivanna were:

Selected works

Robie House.jpg
The Robie House on the University of Chicago campus (1909)
Frank W. Thomas House (1901), 210 Forest Avenue, Oak Park, IL.jpg
Frank W. Thomas House, Oak Park, Illinois (1901)
Taliesin West panorama, Scottsdale, Arizona (1937)
Beth Sholom.jpg
Beth Sholom Synagogue, Wright's only synagogue design, Elkins Park, Pennsylvania (1954)

See also

Related Research Articles

William Wesley Peters was an American architect and engineer, apprentice to and protégé of Frank Lloyd Wright.

Robie House U.S. National Historic Landmark in Chicago, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright

The Frederick C. Robie House is a U.S. National Historic Landmark now on the campus of the University of Chicago in the South Side neighborhood of Hyde Park in Chicago, Illinois. Built between 1909 and 1910, the building was designed as a single family home by architect Frank Lloyd Wright and is renowned as the greatest example of Prairie School, the first architectural style considered uniquely American. It was designated a National Historic Landmark on November 27, 1963, and was on the first National Register of Historic Places list of October 15, 1966. Robie House and a selection of other properties by Wright were inscribed on the World Heritage List under the title "The 20th-Century Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright" in July 2019.

John Lloyd Wright was an American architect and toy inventor. Born in Oak Park, Illinois, Wright was the second-oldest son of famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright. John Lloyd Wright became estranged from his father in 1909 and subsequently left his home to join his brother on the West Coast. After unsuccessfully working a series of jobs, he decided to take up the profession of his father in 1912. Shortly afterward, he was able to reconnect with his father, who took John under his wing. Differences in opinion regarding the Imperial Hotel, Tokyo caused the pair to again become disunited.

Taliesin (studio) studio and home of Frank Lloyd Wright in Wisconsin, USA

Taliesin, sometimes known as Taliesin East, Taliesin Spring Green, or Taliesin North after 1937, was the estate of American architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Located 2.5 miles (4.0 km) south of the village of Spring Green, Wisconsin, United States, the 600-acre (240 ha) property was developed on land that originally belonged to Wright's maternal family.

Taliesin West building

Taliesin West was architect Frank Lloyd Wright's winter home and school in the desert from 1937 until his death in 1959 at the age of 91. Today it is the main campus of The School of Architecture at Taliesin and houses the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation.

Prairie School Architectural style

Prairie School is a late 19th- and early 20th-century architectural style, most common in the Midwestern United States. The style is usually marked by horizontal lines, flat or hipped roofs with broad overhanging eaves, windows grouped in horizontal bands, integration with the landscape, solid construction, craftsmanship, and discipline in the use of ornament. Horizontal lines were thought to evoke and relate to the wide, flat, treeless expanses of America's native prairie landscape.

Herman T. Mossberg Residence

Herman T. Mossberg Residence is a house designed by the American architect Frank Lloyd Wright. It was built for Herman T. Mossberg and his wife Gertrude in 1948 in South Bend, Indiana, and remains in private hands today. It is one of two Wright residences in South Bend, the other being the K. C. DeRhodes House.

Edgar Tafel American architect

Edgar A. Tafel was an American architect, best known as a disciple of Frank Lloyd Wright.

George W. Maher American architect

George Washington Maher was an American architect during the first-quarter of the 20th century. He is considered part of the Prairie School-style and was known for blending traditional architecture with the Arts & Crafts-style.

Thomas H. Gale House United States historic place

The Thomas H. Gale House, or simply Thomas Gale House, is a house located in the Chicago suburb of Oak Park, Illinois, United States. The house was designed by famous American architect Frank Lloyd Wright in 1892 and is an example of his early work. The house was designed by Wright independently while he was still employed by Adler and Sullivan, something architect Louis Sullivan forbade. The house is significant because of what it shows about the architect's early development period. The Parker House is listed as contributing property to a U.S. federally Registered Historic District. The house was designated an Oak Park Landmark in 2002.

Gerald B. and Beverley Tonkens House United States historic place

The Gerald B. and Beverley Tonkens House, also known as the Tonkens House, is a single story private residence, designed by American architect Frank Lloyd Wright in 1954. The house was commissioned by Gerald B. Tonkens and his first wife Rosalie. It is located in Amberley Village, a village in Hamilton County, Ohio.

Samara (house) United States historic place

Samara, also known as the John E. Christian House, is a house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright located in West Lafayette, Indiana. The home is an example of the Usonian homes that Wright designed. Samara was built from 1954 to 1956 and was still occupied by the original owner, John E. Christian, until he died on July 12, 2015.

Olgivanna Lloyd Wright was the third and final wife of Frank Lloyd Wright and had significant influence in his life and work, due in part to her extensive Theosophical associations. She was a Montenegrin dancer. While her "language, cultural background and upbringing were almost exotically alien to his own," she was critical in introducing Wright to Greek-Armenian mystic George Gurdjieff, a man whom he alternately despised and admired. She is a principal character in T. C. Boyle's 2009 novel The Women.

Robert and Rae Levin House

In 1949, Robert and Rae Levin worked with Frank Lloyd Wright to build a house in Kalamazoo, Michigan. It was the first house to be built in Parkwyn Village, a planned community of Usonian houses. Usonia is a word used by Frank Lloyd Wright and refers to the residents of the United States Of North America. Those houses were meant for the common man at that time. The finished house was constructed of textile blocks, big windows and skylights, built-in furniture, and a mix of shallow and grand sloping ceilings. Wright designed the house to be connected closely to nature.

Bachman–Wilson House

The Bachman Wilson House, built in and originally located in Millstone, in Somerset County, New Jersey, United States, was originally designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1954 for Abraham Wilson and his first wife, Gloria Bachman. Ms. Bachman's brother, Marvin, had studied with Wright at Taliesin West, his home and studio in Scottsdale, Arizona. In 2014 the house was acquired by the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas and has been relocated in its entirety to the museum's campus.

E. Clarke and Julia Arnold House United States historic place

The E. Clarke and Julia Arnold House is a Frank Lloyd Wright designed Usonian home in Columbus, Wisconsin, United States.

Tan-y-Deri house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright

In 1907, architect Frank Lloyd Wright designed the home, "Tan-y-deri", for Jane and Andrew Porter, his sister and brother-in-law. The home was built in a valley in the town of Wyoming, Wisconsin. This valley was originally settled by the Lloyd Joneses, who were the family of Wright and his sister's mother. The Lloyd Joneses were originally from Wales and, as a result of this heritage, Wright chose a Welsh name for the Porter home: “Tan-y-deri” is Welsh for “Under the oaks”.

Hillside Home School I

In March 1887, Frank Lloyd Wright, having newly moved to Chicago to try to become an architect, received a letter from his aunt, Ellen ("Nell") C. Lloyd Jones, asking him to perhaps design a building for the school that she planned with her sister, Jane ("Jenny"). Biographer Meryle Secrest wrote about the letter from "Aunt Nell" to Wright in her biography on the architect:

The letter contains detailed instructions about floor plans.... She added that some of her friends were contributing their architectural notions. The nephew seems to have cut them all out fast. His resulting designs were evidently derived from those of [Joseph Lyman] Silsbee [his then-employer], and one of his authorized biographies more or less acknowledges that this architect played the largest role. Wright dismissed his first attempt as "amateurish."

The 20th-Century Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright is a UNESCO World Heritage Site consisting of a selection of eight buildings across the United States that were designed by American architect Frank Lloyd Wright. These sites demonstrate his philosophy of organic architecture, designing structures that were in harmony with humanity and its environment. Wright's work had an international influence on the development of architecture in the 20th century.


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Further reading

Wright's philosophy


Surveys of Wright's work

Selected books about specific Wright projects