"Everything that's ever going to be of use to you—in architecture or in life or anywhere you go or whatever you do—is going to be nature."——————————————
Frank Lloyd Wright
Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959) lived during a period of rapid technological advances and social change, from just after the Civil War to the Space Race. He sought to develop a modern form of architecture that responded to the American Spirit
Wright started his career at the Chicago architecture firm Adler & Sullivan. There, Louis Sullivan taught Wright that steel and decorative ornament could find harmony together. Wright is noted for humanizing Modern architecture through the reintroduction of ornament and the rejection of certain Modernist principles expressed in the popular International Style.
Wright became one of the world's most renowned architects through his diverse body of work, which pushed the limits of new materials and new technologies, and his guiding principles, which connected modern spatial concepts with his outspoken American individuality.
His structures are characterized by the grace with which they embrace their environment.
He accomplished this by using glass to ease the boundary between inside and outside, and through his honest use of natural materials. Wright was meticulous with every element of the
home, from the siting of the building to the hinges on the doors; all must unite in order to elevate the lives of the inhabitants.
Wright wasn't bound by nostalgia. He built for the future, reinventing traditional building types in new forms. At the beginning of his career he developed the Prairie Style, which revolutionized residential design in America. These homes responded to the changing lifestyles and social ideals of American families in the early twentieth century. Wright brought the family together with the open floor plan, which emphasized the centrally located, light-filled living space. By breaking down the conventional barriers between indoors and outdoors, and through his choice of materials, Wright created a uniquely American architecture.
Both a charismatic and highly independent figure, Wright inspired many successful American architects, particularly through The Taliesin Fellowships, which he established as a means to teach his principles of design to the next generation of architects. The fellowships were run out of Wright's homes: Taliesin East in Wisconsin, and Taliesin West in Arizona.
Wright's mid-career structures became more organic, both in their forms and in their connections to their sites.
With Fallingwater, one of Wright's most famous custom homes, his organic residential style is fully articulated. Fallingwater, 1935, consists of a
series of stucco-wrapped cantilevers (sections that extend beyond their vertical supports) that float above a waterfall at Bear Run, Pennsylvania.
Wright's organic architecture culminated with the Guggenheim Museum in New York City, 1956. This building is revolutionary because Wright used a form derived from nature, creating an experience which Wright believed would allow people to experience art in a new way.
Frank Lloyd Wright designed more than 1,000 structures, of which only 532 were built. Of these, 430 were built during his lifetime, and 102 were built after his death.
Wright's style changed over the course of his long career, yet firmly rested on the principles he established early on: horizontality (connection to earth), a functional and efficient floorplan, the honest expression of materials, forms inspired by nature, and the use of windows to dissolve visual barriers between inside and outside.
The 10 Wright buildings featured below have been nominated for UNESCO World Heritage status as "places on Earth that are of outstanding universal value to humanity." This marks the first time the United States has nominated works of Modern architecture for protection under UNESCO World Heritage status.
Notice how Wright's principles are expressed differently in the various types of buildings he designed.
[Video monitor showing Wright's UNESCO World Heritage nominated structures]