Lloyd Wright was born as Frank Lincoln Wright in Richland Center in
southwestern Wisconsin, on June 8, 1867 (a date sometimes reported as
1869). His father, William Carey Wright, was a musician and a preacher.
His mother, Anna Lloyd-Jones was a teacher. It is said that Anna Lloyd-Jones
placed pictures of great buildings in young Frank's nursery as part
of training him up from the earliest possible moment as an architect.
Wright spent some of his time growing up at the farm owned by his uncles
near Spring Green, Wisconsin (also in the southwestern part of the state).
Frank Lloyd Wright was of Welsh ethnic heritage, and was brought up
in the Unitarian faith.
Wright briefly studied
civil engineering at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, after which
he moved to Chicago to work for a year in the architectural firm of
J. Lyman Silsbee. In 1887, he hired on as a draftsman draftsman in the
firm of Adler and Sullivan, run by Louis Sullivan (design) and Dankmar
Adler (engineering) at the time the firm was designing Chicago's Auditorium
Building. Wright eventuallly became the chief draftsman, and also the
man in charge of the firm's residential designs. Under Sullivan, whom
Wright called "Lieber Meister" (beloved master), Wright began
to develop his own architectural ideas. In 1889 he married his first
wife, Catherine Tobin. He also designed houses on his own toward the
end, homes Wright called "bootlegged" which were done against
Alder and Sullivan's policies concerning such moonlighting. When Louis
Sullivan found out about these homes, Wright was fired from the firm.The
bootlegged houses showed the start of Wright's low, sheltering rooflines,
the prominence of the central fireplace, nd "the destruction of
the box" open floorplans. The Adler and Sullivan firm was just
the right place to be for a young man aspiring to be a great architect,
as it was at the leading edge of American architecture at the time.
Wright started his
own firm in 1893 after being fired from Adler and Sullivan, first working
out of the Schiller building (designed by Adler and Sullivan) and then
out of a studio which was built onto his home in Oak Park, an affluent
suburb of Chicago which is located just to the west of the center of
Between 1893 and
1901, 49 buildings designed by Wright were built. During this period
he began to develop his ideas which would come to t ogether in his "Prairie
House" concept. Into 1909, he developed and refined the prairie
style. Frank Lloyd Wright founded the "prairie school" of
architecture, and his art of this early productive period in his life
is also considered as part of the "Arts and Crafts movement".
This very productive
first phase in Wright's career ended in 1909, when he left his wife
and 5 children to go to Germany. He was joined there by Mamah Borthwick
Cheney, the wife of a former client and now his lover. From 1912-1914,
Wright and Ms. Chaney lived together at Taliesin, a home Wright had
built at the site of his uncles' farm near Spring Green. This period
ended when a crazed servant murdered Ms. Chaney and 6 others, also setting
a fire that destroyed much of Taliesin.
During the period
from 1914-1932, a time of personal turmoil and change, Wright rebuilt
Taliesin (and nearly lost it to bank forclosure), divorced Catherine,
married and separated from Miriam Noel (spending a little time in jail
as part of this situation), and met his third wife, Olgivanna Milanoff
(a Bosnian Serb who was a student of G. I. Gurdjieff). Architectural
designs during this period included the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo (a large
and complex design that required much time in Japan to oversee it),
and the concrete California residences. Few commissions were completed
toward the end of this period, but Wright did lecture and publish frequently,
with books including An Autobiography in 1932.
The Taliesin Fellowship
was founded in 1932, with thirty apprentices who came to live and learn
under Mr. Wright. An Autobiography served as an advertisement, inspiring
many who read it to seek him out. The architect's output became more
organized and prolific, with help of the numerous apprentices who assisted
in design detail and site supervision. His most famous work, Fallingwater,
was designed in 1936. The fellowship was expanded as Taliesin West was
built in Arizona as a winter location for the school. The Taliesin Associated
Architects, the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture, and the Frank
Lloyd Wright Foundation are living legacies of what Mr. Wright founded
Few buildings wre
produced during the war years, but the G.I.Bill brought many new apprentices
when the war ended. This post-war period to the end of Wright's life
was the most productive. He received 270 house commissions, and designed
and built the Price Tower skyscraper, the Guggenheim Museum (which required
Wright to live in New York City for a time), and the Marin County Civic
Wright never retired;
he died on April 9, 1959 at the age of ninety-two in Arizona. He was
interred at the graveyard at Unity Chapel (which is considered to be
his first building) at Taliesin in Wisconsin. In 1985, Olgivanna Wright
passed away, and one of her wishes was to have Frank Lloyd Wright's
remains cremated and the ashes placed next to hers at Taliesin West.
Amid much controversy, this was done. The epitaph at his Wisconsin grave
site reads: "Love of an idea, is the love of God"
Frank Lloyd Wright
was born in Richland Center, Wisconsin on June 8, 1867. His parents,
William Cary Wright and Anna Lloyd-Jones, originally named him Frank
Lincoln Wright, which he later changed after they divorced. When he
was twelve years old, Wright's family settled in Madison, Wisconsin
where he attended Madison High School. During summers spent on his Uncle
James Lloyd Jones' farm in Spring Green, Wisconsin, Wright first began
to realize his dream of becoming an architect. In 1885, he left Madison
without finishing high school to work for Allan Conover, the Dean of
the University of Wisconsin's Engineering department. While at the University,
Wright spent two semesters studying civil engineering before moving
to Chicago in 1887.
In Chicago, he worked
for architect Joseph Lyman Silsbee. Wright drafted the construction
of his first building, the Lloyd-Jones family chapel, also known as
Unity Chapel. One year later, he went to work for the firm of Adler
and Sullivan, directly under Louis Sullivan. Wright adapted Sullivan's
maxim "Form Follows Function" to his own revised theory of
"Form and Function Are One." It was Sullivan's belief that
American Architecture should be based on American function, not European
traditions, a theory which Wright later developed further. Throughout
his life, Wright acknowledged very few influences but credits Sullivan
as a primary influence on his career. While working for Sullivan, Wright
met and fell in love with Catherine Tobin. The two moved to Oak Park,
Illinois and built a home where they eventually raised their five children.
In 1893, Sullivan and Wright ended their business relationship. Wright
opened his own firm in Chicago, which he operated there for five years
before transferring the practice to his home in Oak Park.
Wright's early houses
revealed a unique talent in the young, aspiring architect. They had
a style all their own, mimicking that of a horizontal plane, with no
basements or attics. Built with natural materials and never painted,
Wright utilized low-pitched rooflines with deep overhangs and uninterrupted
walls of windows to merge the horizontal homes into their environments.
He added large stone or brick fireplaces in the homes' heart, and made
the rooms open to one another. His simplistic houses served as an inspiration
to the Prairie School, a name given to a group of architects whose style
was indigenous of midwestern architecture. Later he became one of its
chief practitioners. Some of his most notable creations include the
Robie House in Chicago, Illinois and the Martin House in Buffalo, New
In 1909, after eighteen
years in Oak Park, Wright left his home to move to Germany with a woman
named Mamah Borthwick Cheney. When they returned in 1911, they moved
to Spring Green, Wisconsin where his mother had given him a portion
of his ancestors' land; it was the same farm where he had spent much
time as a young boy. In Spring Green he constructed Taliesin. They lived
there until 1914 when tragedy struck. An insane servant tragically murdered
Cheney and six others, then set fire to Taliesin. Many people thought
this horrific event would be the end of Wright's career. He proved them
wrong however, with his decision to rebuild Taliesin.
Over the next 20
years Wright's influence continued to grow in popularity in the United
States and Europe. Eventually his innovative building style spread overseas.
In 1915, Wright was commissioned to design the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo.
It was during this time that Wright began to develop and refine his
architectural and sociological philosophies. Because Wright disliked
the urban environment, his buildings also developed a style quite different
from other architects of the time. He utilized natural materials, skylights
and walls of windows to embrace the natural environment. He built skyscrapers
that mimicked trees, with a central trunk and many branches projecting
outward. He proclaimed that shapes found in the environment should be
not only integrated, but should become the basis of American architecture.
A great example is the Larkin Company Administration Building in Buffalo,
New York (1903), and the Guggenheim Museum in New York City (1943),
which resembles the structure of a shell or a snail.
In 1932, Wright
opened Taliesin up as an architectural fellowship where young students
could pay to work with and learn from him. Thirty apprentices came to
live with him at Taliesin. Through the Taliesin Fellowship, Wright created
masterpieces such as Fallingwater (the Kaufmann House) in Mill Run,
Pennsylvania, and the SC Johnson and Son Wax Company Administration
Center in Racine, Wisconsin. During this time, he married and separated
from Miriam Noel and met his third wife, Olivanna Milanoff. The two
lived happily at Taliesin for five years and raised a child there. As
the couple grew older, the Wisconsin winters became too much for them.
In 1937, Wright moved his family and fellowship to Phoenix, Arizona
where he built Taliesin West and spent the last twenty years of his
At Taliesin West,
because of the comfortable year-round climate, Wright was able to integrate
the outdoors with his indoor spaces. He designed high sloping roofs,
translucent ceilings, and large, open doors and windows that created
a subtle distinction between the home and the environment. Both Taliesin
and Taliesin West were continuous living experiences for Wright as they
constantly remained under construction. As his fellowship grew and the
need for a larger facility became necessary, Wright continued to create
additions and expansions on both homes.
On April 9, 1959
at age ninety-two, Wright died at his home in Phoenix, Arizona. By the
time of his death, he had become internationally recognized for his
innovative building style and contemporary designs. He had created 1,141
designs, of which 532 were completed. His name had become synonymous
with great design, not only because of the form of his designs, but
also because of the function. In the end, he showed not just what to
live in, but more importantly he influenced the very nature of how we
Frank Lloyd WrightFrank
Lloyd Wright (June 8, 1867 – April 9, 1959) was one of the most
prominent architects of the first half of the 20th century. To this
day he easily America's most famous architect (topping Philip Johnson,
Louis Kahn, and Frank Gehry) and still extremely well-known in the common
He was born in the
agricultural town of Richland Center, Wisconsin, USA and brought up
with strong Unitarian and transcendental principles, eventually designing
the Unity Temple in Oak Park, Illinois. As a child he spent a great
deal of time playing with the Kindergarten educational blocks by Friedrich
Wilhelm August Fröbel (popularly known as Froebel's blocks) given
by his mother. These consisted of various geometrically shaped blocks
that could be assembled in various combinations to form three dimensional
compositions. Wright in his autobiography talks about the influence
of these exercises on his approach to design. Many of his buildings
are notable for the geometrical clarity they exhibit.
his formal education in 1885 at the University of Wisconsin School for
Engineering, where he was a member of a fraternity, Phi Delta Theta.
He took classes part time for two years while apprenticing under Allen
Conover, a local builder and professor of civil engineering. In 1887,
Wright left the university without taking a degree (although he was
granted an honorary doctorate of fine arts from the university in 1955)
and moved to Chicago, Illinois, where he joined the architectural firm
of Joseph Lyman Silsbee. Within the year, he had left Silsbee to work
for the firm of Adler and Sullivan. Beginning in 1890, he was assigned
all residential design work for the firm. In 1893, after a falling out
that probably concerned the work he had taken on outside the office,
Wright left Adler and Sullivan to establish his own practice and home
in the Chicago suburb of Oak Park, IL. He had completed around fifty
projects by 1901 including many houses in his hometown.
Between 1900 and
1910, his residential designs were "Prairie Houses" (extended
low buildings with shallow sloping roofs, clean sky lines, suppressed
chimneys, overhangs and terraces, using unfinished materials), so called
because the design is considered to complement the land around Chicago.
These houses are credited with being the first examples of the "open
plan>" In fact, the manipulation of interior space in residential
and public buildings [such as Unity Temple] are hallmarks of his style.
He believed that humanity should be central to all design. Many examples
of this work can be found in Buffalo, New York, resulting from a friendship
between Wright and an executive from the Larkin Soap Company, Darwin
D. Martin. In 1902 the Larkin Company decided to build a new administration
building. Wright came to Buffalo and designed not only the first sketches
for the Larkin Darwin Martin House, Buffalo, New YorkThe houses considered
the masterpieces of the late Prairie period (1907-1909) are the Frederick
Robie House and the Avery and Queene Coonley House, both in Chicago.
The Robie House with its soaring cantilevered roof lines, supported
by a 110 foot long channel of steel, is the most dramatic. Its living
and dining areas form virtually one uninterrupted space. This building
had the most influence on young European architects after World War
I and is called the "cornerstone of modernism." In 1910, the
Wasmuth Portfolio was published, and created the first major exposure
of Wright's work in Europe.
He designed his
own home-studio complex, called Taliesin (after the 6th century Welsh
poet, whose name means literally 'shining brow'), which was begun near
Spring Green, Wisconsin in 1911 and modified and expanded many times
over. The complex was a distinctive low one-story U-shaped structure
with views over a pond on one side and Wright's studio on the opposite
side. Taliesin was twice destroyed by fire; the current building there
is called Taliesin III. The first time it burned, seven people were
killed, including Wright's mistress, Mamah Borthwick, and her two children
(by her husband Edwin Cheney).
He visited Japan,
first in 1905, and Europe (1909-10), opening a Tokyo office in 1916.
In the 1938 Wright designed his winter retreat in Arizona, called Taliesin
West; the retreat, like much of Wright's architecture, blends organically
with the surrounding landscape. In Tokyo, Wright designed his famous
Imperial Hotel, completed in 1922 after beginning construction in 1916.
On September 1, 1923, one of the worst earthquakes in modern times hit
Tokyo and its surrounding area. The Great Kanto Earthquake completely
leveled Tokyo and effects from the earthquake caused a large tsunami,
destructive tornados, and fires in the city. A legend grew out of this
disaster that Wright's Imperial Hotel was the only large structure to
survive the destruction, but in fact this was far from true.
Wright is responsible
for a concept or a series of extremely original 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 very large
( 12 by 12 feet) model of this community of the future, showing it in
several venues in the following years. He went on developing the idea
until his death.
Wright built 362
houses. About 300 survive as of 2005. Only one was lost to forces of
nature, a waterfront home in Mississippi destroyed by a hurricane in
the 1960s; although, the Ennis-Brown House in California had been damaged
by earthquake and rain-induced ground movement. While a number of the
houses are preserved as museum pieces and millions of dollars are spent
on their upkeep, other houses have trouble selling on the open market
due to their unique designs, generally small size and outdated features.
As buildings age their structural deficiencies are increasingly revealed,
and Wright's designs have not been immune from the passage of time.
Some of his most daring and innovative designs have required major structural
repair, and the soaring cantilevered terraces of Fallingwater are but
one example. (A common joke was once how "Fallingwater" is
falling into the water.) Some of these deficiencies can be attributed
to Wright's pushing of materials beyond the state of the art, others
to sometimes less than rigorous engineering, and still others to the
natural wear and tear of the elements over time.