Frank Lloyd Wright

Frank Lloyd Wright (1867–1959)

Wright was born and raised on the farmlands of Wisconsin. His mother had a vision for her son—that he would become a great architect. Wright was raised with strong guiding principles, a love of nature, a belief in the unity of all things and a respect for discipline and hard work. In 1887, following his study of civil engineering at the University of Wisconsin, Wright went to Chicago, where he became a designer for the firm of Adler and Sullivan. One of the partners of this company, the American architect Louis Sullivan, had a profound influence on Wright’s work. Sullivan’s mantra, “form follows function,” would also be embraced by Wright. In 1893 Wright left the firm to establish his own office in Chicago.

Wright created the philosophy of “organic architecture,” which maintains that the building should develop out of its natural surroundings. From the outset he exhibited bold originality in his designs and rebelled against the ornate neoclassic and Victorian styles favored by many architects of the time. He believed that the architectural form must ultimately be determined in each case by the particular function of the building, its environment, and the type of materials employed in the structure. Among his fundamental contributions was the use of various building materials for their natural colors and textures, as well as for their structural characteristics.

Wright initiated many new techniques, such as the use of precast concrete blocks reinforced by steel rods. He also introduced numerous innovations, including air conditioning, indirect lighting, and panel heating.

Wright spent much time in writing, lecturing, and teaching and established Taliesin, a school and studio-workshop for apprentices who assisted him on his projects. He also founded the Taliesin Fellowship to support such efforts.

Early in his career, Wright had originated many of the principles that are today the fundamental conepts of modern architecture. Throughout his career, architects who were more conventional than Wright opposed his unorthodox methods, but there is no doubt that his work has profoundly influenced the development of contemporary architecture.  

Sackler Center

This presentation, comprised of selected materials from the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum Archives, pays homage to the first Frank Lloyd Wright–designed structures in New York City.

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