In every art form, there are names that stand out among the rest. In architecture, one of those is Frank Lloyd Wright.
Studying under architects who could remember the Civil War, and with generations of his students still at work today, Wright's career and legacy have stamped his signature on the world of architecture.
Keep reading to learn about the Frank Lloyd Wright signature of architecture.
Who Was Frank Lloyd Wright?
Frank Lloyd Wright was an architect, interior designer, educator, and writer. In his life, he designed more than 1,000 structures, 532 of which were actually built and completed.
He was responsible for the Prairie School movement of architecture, a style that utilizes horizontal lines to mimic the sweeping plains of the prairie. In addition to homes, he designed numerous churches, museums, hotels, and skyscrapers. He also designed interior elements such as furniture and stained glass for these structures.
His contributions to the world of architecture were so great that in 1991 the American Institute of Architects named him "the greatest American Architect of all time".
The Frank Lloyd Wright Style
Frank Lloyd Wright's designs, and the Prairie School style, have certain distinctive hallmarks. The following are some of the most well-known.
Most of Wright's work, especially where private residences are concerned, is characterized by bold horizontal lines to create a wide, flat effect. His buildings, especially his private residences, seem to sprawl farther than their actual footprint due to clever use of lines.
Flowing With the Environment
Wright believed that “the good building is not one that hurts the landscape, but one which makes the landscape more beautiful than it was before the building was built.” Many of his designs seem to spring up from and mimic the environment in which they are built.
Extended Roof Lines and Open Floor Plans
At a time when homes were built as box-like structures with segmented living areas, Wright went against the grain. He extended roof lines well beyond exterior walls to create interesting exteriors. Inside, he did away with compartmentalized rooms in favor of open living areas.
Using Mass-Produced Commercial Materials
Wright favored the use of mass-produced materials like concrete blocks. Generally used in commercial applications, these prefabricated materials were a departure from the usual built-on-site structures popular at the time.
You'll also see plastics, fiberglass, stone and natural elements like wood cladding in his designs.
Heavy Use of Glass Work
Wright used large amounts of glass in his work to bring light in. In fact, he patented a special system of prism glass that was able to highlight the interiors of stores from their front windows, drawing clients in.
In fact, many of his buildings feature whole walls of glass - an effort to bring the outdoors in.
Custom Electrical, Light Fixtures, and Furniture
Not just an architect, Wright designed custom light fixtures in many of his homes and buildings. He believed in playing with light, both interior and exterior. Besides windows pulling exterior light in, he liked to create custom lighting.
He also built-in custom furniture. He believed in making a dwelling a complete work of art, meaning the inside was equally as important.
Frank Lloyd Wright's Contributions
At least twelve of Frank Lloyd Wright's are on the Architectural Record's list of the hundred most important buildings of the century. Some of his most famous are:
Fallingwater. This privately owned Mill Water residence was designed for department store owner Edgar Kaufman. It's his best example of marrying the environment to a building, with a waterfall spilling from the base of the structure. The straight lines of the home somehow seem to spring directly from the forest around it.
The Guggenheim. Finished six months after his death, the museum opened to reviews that the building was so striking it would overshadow the art within.
The Crimson Beech. This Staten Island private residence is a perfect example of Wright's fascination with premanufactured homes. Bought as a kit, this is one of 11 that was built as a collaboration between the manufactured home company and Wright.
The Congregation Beth Shalom. The only synagogue Wright ever built is in Philadelphia. The roof is a pyramid shape built of steel beams and translucent fiberglass and plastic to pull exterior light in.
Rosenbaum House. Another private residence, this is one of the best examples of his building style. Its low-slung profile features so much glass it seems to blur the line between inside and outside.
Frederick C. Robie House. Considered one of the best and most famous expressions of Wright's style, the private residence features a huge open space with a central chimney. Filled with custom fixtures of his designs, and surrounded with beautiful leaded windows, it's truly a masterpiece. It recently underwent an $11 million renovation to restore it.
How Frank Lloyd Wright's Signature Style Lives On
The Frank Lloyd Wright signature style and influence live on in architecture today. The Prairie School style largely influenced today's modern styles, including open and soaring floor plans, lots of straight lines, and the usage of lots of glass.
Perhaps the best nod to Wright's career are prefabricated homes. His lifelong obsession with premade materials and affordable housing live on in manufactured and modular homes.
You'll also see examples of his style in furniture and lighting designs. Light fixtures in the Frank Lloyd Wright style include overhanging caps, straight lines, and stained glass exteriors.
Furniture in his particular style features straight, clean lines and interesting geometric profiles.
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