What matters to you.

Frank Lloyd Wright


Frank Lloyd Wright was born in Richland Center, Wisconsin on June 8, 1867. When he was twelve years old, Wright's family settled in Madison, Wisconsin where he attended Madison High School. 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. 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 York. 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. 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 lived.