Frank Lloyd Wright

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Frank Lloyd Wright 1867 - 1959

One of the most prominent architects of the first half of the 20th century.

Born 8th June 1867 in the agricultural Richland Center, Wisconsin and apparently brought up with strong Unitarian and transcendental principals. Educated briefly at the University of Wiconsin School for Engineering from 1885. In 1887 he joined the architectural firm of Adler and Sullivan in Chicago, from 1890 he was assigned all residential design work for the firm. He left after seven years following a argument and established his own practice in Chicago in 1893. He had completed around fifty projects by 1901.

Between 1901 and 1911 his residential designs were "Prairie Houses" (extended low buildings with shallow sloping roofs, clean sky lines, suppressed chimneys, overhangs and terraces, using unadorned natural materials), so called because the design is considered to complement the land around Chicago. Wright also played a significant role in "open plan" ideas for residential interiors and he came to regard interior space as a more significant part of his designs. He believed that humanity should be central to all design.

He designed his own home-studio complex, called Taliesin (Welsh for shining brow) it was built near Spring Green, Wisconsin in 1911. The complex was a distinctive low one storey l-shaped structure with viewsover a lake on one side and Wright's studio on the opposite side. Taliesin was twice destroyed by fire, the current builing there is Taliesin III. He visited Japan, first in 1905, and Europe(1909), opening a Tokyo office in 1915. He was arrested in 1926 for violating the Mann Act. His personal life was something of a mess: by 1928 he had married, divorced, married again and fathered a child by another woman, divorced and married again and had property seized because of indebtedness.

His most famous house was constructed from 1935-39 - "Fallingwater" for E.J. Kaufmann at Bear Run, Pennsylvania. Designed according to Wright's desire to place the occupants close to the natural surroundings with a stream running under part of the building. The construction is a series of cantilevered balconies and terraces, using stone for all verticals and concrete for the horizontals. The house cost $155,000, including the architect's fee of $80,000. (The constuction engineers argued for thicker floors. They were over-ruled, but proved right - the building now (2001) needs to be supported by trusses to halt buckling and requires millions of dollars of repairs).

He died on 9th April 1959 having designed an enormous number of significant projects including the Guggenheim Museum in New York City, New York.