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Frank Lloyd Wright was an American architect who created over 1,000 prolific structures during his time. Wright was not only a designer but an educator, leaving behind a legacy and influence that is echoed through hundreds of students in his Taliesin Fellowship, now known as The School of Architecture 

Born in 1867 in Wisconsin, Wright went on to become one of the most critically acclaimed American architects of his time and present day. He was a visionary and pioneer, having coined the philosophy of organic architecture and the Prairie School movement of architecture.  

Organic architecture promotes the nurturing relationship and harmony between human structures and the surrounding natural world. Wright aimed to achieve this through designs in which every aspect relates to one another–reflecting the order of nature itself. One specific example of this philosophy in action is the Prairie School architectural style, most common in the Midwest, where Wright was from. The style is designed with long horizontal lines that evoked the wide, flat expanses of the surrounding American prairies. 

Wright’s forward-thinking designs elevated the standard of American craftsmanship. Here, we’ll delve into some of his most renowned works spanning across the United States from one coast to the other. 

Fallingwater, Pennysylvania (1930s)

Constructed partially atop of a waterfall in Pennysylvania, Fallingwater is considered the crowning pinnacle of Wright’s work in organic architecture. Fallingwater is a home designed to create a seamless flow between the expansive indoors and outdoors, blurring the line between the two spaces. 

To achieve the effect of a house that blends in with its surrounding landscape, Wright used the waterfall as the focal point of the home and implemented glass walls to provide a full view of the outside. He also used cantilevers, a series of concrete beams that created a floating effect for the entire home. This created the impression that Fallingwater was floating and weightless. 

Fallingwater went on the be called Wright’s “most beautiful” job and has won various awards to be one of the best works of American architecture.  

 

Photo from: Yuhan Du, Unsplash

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (1940s-1950s)

Undoubtedly one of Wright’s most widely recognized works, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum is a cultural phenomenon and National Historic Landmark in the largest city of the United States. A spiral concrete swirl is juxtaposed to the endless strained-edged buildings of Manhattan; the Guggenheim is a geometric work of art that stands out from the dense urban background.  

The interior of the building reflects its exterior design, featuring a spiral structure that culminates at the top, offering a central vantage point for viewing the entire art collection beneath a domed skylight. However, the curves serve a functional purpose beyond their aesthetic appeal. They form a ramping structure that guides visitors either upwards or downwards along the complete spiral, facilitating a comprehensive viewing experience of all the displayed artworks. Praised for its unique style, the Guggenheim building itself is considered a work of art along with all the masterpieces inside of it.  

Photo From: Alex Eckermann, Unsplash

Taliesin West, Arizona (1930s)

Taliesin West, Wright’s winter home and studio for about twenty years, is now the headquarters of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. The home echoes the stone structure of the surrounding Arizona desert, where Wright utilized desert masonry to construct it. Staying true to organic architecture, he used the materials available to him in his surroundings such as desert rocks, wood forms and concrete to shape the home’s walls.  

The design also utilized an abundance of natural light. Wright created the roof from a translucent canvas, strong enough to withstand the Arizona sun. Plenty of glass also allowed for light to filter in horizontally and helped create the smooth transition between the home and desert.  

As time has gone on, Taliesin West is known to be a desert laboratory where Wright’s apprentices’ work and architectural education thrive—ultimately cementing Wright’s legacy.  

Photo From: Wikipedia

Frank Lloyd Wright challenged architects to think beyond aesthetics, to consider the user, the environment, and the broader impact of our creations.  

His spirit of innovation and his pursuit of architecture remains an enduring source of inspiration. To learn more about his life and work, visit franklloydwright.org. 

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