Frank Lloyd Wright

This essay has a total of 3039 words and 14 pages.

Frank Lloyd Wright



The way you live is being directly influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright’s innovations in
residential architecture. Mr. Wright’s “organic architecture” was a radical departure
form the traditional architecture of his day, which was dominated by European styles that
dated back hundreds of years or even millennia. He contributed the Prairie and Usonian
houses to the familiar of American residential design, and elements of his designs can be
found in a large proportion of homes today. While most of his designs were single-family,
his collections include houses of worship, skyscrapers, resorts, museums, government
offices, gas stations, bridges, and other masterpieces showing the diversity of Frank
Lloyd Wright’s talent.

Not only did Wright possess genius skills in the spatial cognition, his approach to
architecture through geometric manipulation demonstrates one aspect of his creativeness.
Frank Lloyd Wright’s views on architectural space, ornamentation, and relationship to
site, and concerning the place of architecture in art, life, and philosophy have inspired
generations of architects and artists all over the world. Frank Lloyd Wright’s career was
notable in several areas. As a practicing architect, he designed several hundred
buildings, of which around 500 were built. Within his roles of architectural theoretician
and academic, he wrote several books on architecture, and founded and ran a successful
school in the field, training many architects. Mr. Wright’s design went beyond the
building to the finest details of the interior design spaces, including furniture, art
glass, and other aspects of interior designs. Frank Lloyd Wright’s views on architectural
space, ornamentation, and relationship to building sites, and concerning the place of
architecture in art, life and philosophy have inspired generations of architects and
artists all over the world. Frank Lloyd Wright was an innovator who drastically
influenced architecture of the twentieth century around the world.


Frank Lloyd Wright was an architect with a democratic vision. By integrating the city
into the countryside, Wright was envisioning a decentralized city that stressed agrarian,
or rural pastoral, living and familial connectivity. Many of Wright’s ideals and visions
are rooted in his life experiences. Specifically, his childhood experiences in the
countryside made Wright highly critical of the city, which ignited his vision of the city
rooted in the Jeffersonian values. He believed the role of an architect to be that of a
builder, not only of buildings but of the social structure, because he felt that if
society were given conditions in which building had intelligence and raison d’etre the
whole structure of human society itself would have the substance of strength and beauty.
It was stated in Brooks book Writings on Wright that Wright was “Interested in politics
and affairs of the state, he believed that architecture as the plan-in-structure of all
things was the all-inclusive basis for every civilization and culture. He repeatedly
related architecture to democracy, considering democracy the highest form of aristocracy
man has ever known, a society based on the sovereignty of the individual” (24-5).
Wright’s early work reflects his democratic ideals, especially Oak Park, as an importance
was placed on family. His ideas about democracy grew into the vision of Broadacre City,
which emphasized the important influence that technology would have on his envisioned
democracy. It was through this vision that Wright sought to build for citizens of the
United States. His vision of the city was placed in the countryside, where people could
live free from centralization. Here nature and city would blend into one entity. Within
this entity, the structural forms will be built to merge into and become one with the
natural landscape.


Frank Lloyd Wright’s childhood experiences would later have a significant impact on his
architectural and city designs. After spending a part of his childhood moving from place
to place, the Wright family settled at his maternal family’s farm in Wisconsin. Although
the family customs and life had an effect on Wright’s democratic philosophy, the greatest
impact on his work came from the Froebel blocks his mother had purchased for this future
architect. Before her son was born, his mother had decided that her son was going to be a
great architect. Using Froebel geometric blocks to entertain and educate her son, she
appears to have struck on a genius her son possessed. His early childhood travels, life
on the farm, and manipulations of the Froebel blocks would all influence the physical and
the ideological aspects of Wright’s designs. Wright would have his self-promotion, along
with his mother’s support, pushing him to achieve great things in the field of
Architecture for decades to come.

At the age of twenty, Wright moved to Chicago where the great fires had destroyed most of
the old city allowing it to be built with the skyscrapers of glass and steel. This
complimented the trend of residential design, which used Victorian influence. Wright
found a job as a draftsman with Chicago’s Silsbee Architectural Firm, where his first
project, the Hillside Home, was built for his Aunts Nell and Jane. Frank left his first
position within a year and found a position with one of Chicago’s best-known firms at the
turn of the century, Alder & Sullivan. Wright’s second employer influenced the young
architect in a way that would change the course of American architecture forever. He
apprenticed to Sullivan, who was to become Wright’s greatest mentor. Wright learned much
from Sullivan in the aspects of design and architectural philosophy. According to
Fishman, Sullivan created an “Architecture for Democracy,” where democracy was defined as
“freedom for individual development and expression” (104-5). Sullivan also attached great
importance on the architect that is similar to Wright’s view of the architect. For
Sullivan, the “well-being of the republic depended upon the architect” to create forms
reflective of and contributive to the “democratic idea” (105). By adopting the credo of
democratic form, Wright took to designing homes that reflected his growing democratic and
symmetric designs. While with the firm, his assignment to the residential design
contracts led him to moonlight beyond the firm’s contracts. This led him to leave the
firm and establish on his own.


While in Chicago, Wright began to come into his own as an architect and as a social
philosopher. Using the Lloyd-Jones’ family philosophies of unity, truth, harmony, and
simplicity and Sullivan’s approach of “form follows function”, Wright quickly built up a
practice in residential architecture. Patience, concentration, attention to detail, and
constant revision marked Frank Lloyd Wright’s work in the studio. Wright took an integral
approach to architecture by designing the interior furnishings of the buildings as well as
the structure. Using nature as inspiration and geometric abstraction, both obvious
influences from his childhood in Wisconsin, Wright created a unique type of architecture,
which would become known to the general public as the Prairie style. Marked by horizontal
lines, this form would dominate his work from 1900-1913. Wright included the technology
of the cities into the suburban residences of his design. Wright would continue to pass
through at least two more recognizable stages in his architectural design, the textile
block (1917-1924), and the Usonian (1936-1959). His homes at Oak Park were developed
simply to reflect “democratic individuality” and the family, especially evident in
Wright’s use of open spaces that centered around the hearth (111). Implicit in Wright’s
designs at Oak Park was his developing views on society, which were highly influenced by
the socio-political stances of the Progressive Party. According to Rosenbaum, the
Progressives gave great weight to the individual and to the developing technologies used
by corporate enterprises. As Rosenbaum points out, Wright was influenced by the
“progressive causes of reform, modernization, better economic balance between cities and
rural areas, equality between the sexes, and restraint of the excesses of the ruling class
and advancement opportunities for the less fortunate” (28).

These social beliefs and views on modernization not only had an impact on Wright’s early
work, but also impacted his later development of Broadacre City. Wright’s early
criticisms of the city are evident in his later critique of the modern city. In Wright’s
The Living City, he points to the problems inherent in the mechanization and
centralization of the city and the attempts to develop solutions that focus on
Jeffersonian democratic beliefs. On problems he sees with the modern city is that
centralization has created a social structure based on the notion of rent, where property
and work are given monetary values that serve to benefit the select few. From this
scenario grows a society based on a system of production that controls consumption, which,
consequently, creates a society that is functionally inorganic. Another problem Wright
has with the modern, centralized city is the overabundance of skyscrapers in the
overcrowded city. These skyscrapers not only bring about the exploitation of the
citizens; they also bring about a concentration of traffic within the city. As a higher
concentration of citizens inhabits the city, the traffic problem causes the city to become
overwhelmed by population (30-60). Therefore, over the course of his career, Wright’s
criticism of the modern city remained an ever-present factor in his work. Frank Lloyd
Wright had a response to the modern city, which maintained that the city and the
countryside were to be made into one Broadacre City. This model of Wright’s became his
lasting achievement and was produced by a vision that sought for a decentralized,
agrarian, democratic place.


Frank Lloyd Wright’s utopian model came about in response to the social and economic
misfortunes of the Great Depression. As Fishman points out, the 1929 stock market crash
strengthened Wright’s belief that “the nation needed a change in its physical and economic
organization” (122). The change that Wright suggested was to be brought through a model
that decentralized the physical and the social power of the modern city, with the
inclusive fusion of Jeffersonian democratic ideals with technology. The imagery of
Broadacre City was developed through a philosophical convergence of the organic and the
inorganic. From the structure of the homes to Wright’s notion of work, there was an
inherent attempt to fuse the ideas of pre-modern agrarian life with the ideas of modern
industrial life. Wright’s merging of town and country is an attempt to unite the
polarized aspects of the city and the country. As Fishman explains, Wright’s Broadacre
vision was one that sought to have “no more distinction between urban and rural
lifestyles” as technology served as a mechanism for the promotion of democratic beliefs
and citizen connectivity that serves to unite the rural landscape into a viable city.


The architecture used to create a city within the valley represents the simple or organic
use of structure. Brought from his childhood experiences in the countryside, Wright
explains that “organic architecture” shapes democratic life through its simplicity.
Wright notes that organic architecture connects the citizen to her land in such a way that
roots her in freedom from the constraining notion of the centralized city. Contrary to
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