Wright, Frank Lloyd

Wright, Frank Lloyd
b. 8 June 1869 Richland Center, Wisconsin, USA
d. 9 April 1959 Phoenix, Arizona, USA
American architect who, in an unparalleled career spanning almost seventy years, became the most important figure on the modern architectural scene both in his own country and far further afield.
Wright began his career in 1887 working in the Chicago offices of Adler \& Sullivan. He conceived a great admiration for Sullivan, who was then concentrating upon large commercial projects in modern mode, producing functional yet decorative buildings which took all possible advantage of new structural methods. Wright was responsible for many of the domestic commissions.
In 1893 Wright left the firm in order to set up practice on his own, thus initiating a career which was to develop into three distinct phases. In the first of these, up until the First World War, he was chiefly designing houses in a concept in which he envisaged "the house as a shelter". These buildings displayed his deeply held opinion that detached houses in country areas should be designed as an integral part of the landscape, a view later to be evidenced strongly in the work of modern Finnish architects. Wright's designs were called "prairie houses" because so many of them were built in the MidWest of America, which Wright described as a "prairie". These were low and spreading, with gently sloping rooflines, very plain and clean lined, built of traditional materials in warm rural colours, blending softly into their settings. Typical was W.W.Willit's house of 1902 in Highland Park, Illinois.
In the second phase of his career Wright began to build more extensively in modern materials, utilizing advanced means of construction. A notable example was his remarkable Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, carefully designed and built in 1916–22 (now demolished), with special foundations and structure to withstand (successfully) strong earthquake tremors. He also became interested in the possibilities of reinforced concrete; in 1906 he built his church at Oak Park, Illinois, entirely of this material. In the 1920s, in California, he abandoned his use of traditional materials for house building in favour of precast concrete blocks, which were intended to provide an "organic" continuity between structure and decorative surfacing. In his continued exploration of the possibilities of concrete as a building material, he created the dramatic concept of'Falling Water', a house built in 1935–7 at Bear Run in Pennsylvania in which he projected massive reinforced-concrete terraces cantilevered from a cliff over a waterfall in the woodlands. In the later 1930s an extraordinary run of original concepts came from Wright, then nearing 70 years of age, ranging from his own winter residence and studio, Taliesin West in Arizona, to the administration block for Johnson Wax (1936–9) in Racine, Wisconsin, where the main interior ceiling was supported by Minoan-style, inversely tapered concrete columns rising to spreading circular capitals which contained lighting tubes of Pyrex glass.
Frank Lloyd Wright continued to work until four days before his death at the age of 91. One of his most important and certainly controversial commissions was the Solomon R.Guggenheim Museum in New York. This had been proposed in 1943 but was not finally built until 1956–9; in this striking design the museum's exhibition areas are ranged along a gradually mounting spiral ramp lit effectively from above. Controversy stemmed from the unusual and original design of exterior banding and interior descending spiral for wall-display of paintings: some critics strongly approved, while others, equally strongly, did not.
Principal Honours and Distinctions
RIBA Royal Gold Medal 1941.
1945, An Autobiography, Faber \& Faber.
Further Reading
E.Kaufmann (ed.), 1957, Frank Lloyd Wright: an American Architect, New York: Horizon Press.
H.Russell Hitchcock, 1973, In the Nature of Materials, New York: Da Capo.
T.A.Heinz, 1982, Frank Lloyd Wright, New York: St Martin's.

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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  • Wright,Frank Lloyd — Wright, Frank Lloyd. 1869 1959. American architect whose distinctive style, based on natural forms, had a great influence on the modern movement in architecture. His designs include private homes, the Johnson Wax Company Building in Racine,… …   Universalium

  • Wright, Frank Lloyd — born June 8, 1867, Richland Center, Wis., U.S. died April 9, 1959, Phoenix, Ariz. U.S. architect. After studying engineering briefly at the University of Wisconsin, he worked for the firm of Dankmar Adler (1844–1900) and Louis Sullivan in Chicago …   Universalium

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