Geometric Shapes

Geometric Shapes

Most buildings contain interior spaces that are rectilinear. Frank Lloyd Wright thought in curves and straight lines—triangles, circles, ovals, squares, and spirals—as well as shapes adapted from nature. For Wright, geometry was the basic building block of nature. Geometric forms also held symbolic significance. He saw the circle as a symbol of infinity while the triangle suggested aspiration. Look down and you find circles in the terrazzo floor beneath your feet. Look up at the underside of the ramp and you see it punctuated by triangular lighting panels.

Suggested Discussion Topic

Ask students to look around their classroom and perceive it as a series of shapes and forms, rather than as "a room." How many different shapes and forms can they find? What shapes are the windows, doors, closets, and lighting fixtures? Make an inventory of the architectural shapes and spaces in your classroom.

Architectural Shape Inventory

Look around your classroom and try to see its architecture as a series of interlocking shapes. How many different geometric shapes do you see?

Museum Activity

Bring this table with you to the museum. During your visit students should complete the last column of this table. Make an inventory of the geometric shapes and forms you encounter as you explore the museum. Be sure to bring pencils along so that students can draw the shapes they observe. Some of the shapes and forms will have common names, (circles, triangles, cylinders), while others either have less common names (trapezoids) or no names at all.

Post-Visit Classroom Activity

Compare the list of shapes from your classroom with the ones from your visit to the museum. Which space had more geometric variety? Why are rectangles so prevalent in most architecture? Can you find a building in your neighborhood that breaks with convention? Describe how it differs from the norm. 

On View

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.

Works & Process

Photo: Petrus Sjövik

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Ferro SP (Iron SP), 1961. Welded iron sheet metal, oil, and tacks on wood framework, 130 x 200 cm.

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