Wright, Frank Lloyd

Wright, Frank Lloyd

biographical name

(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 before opening his own practice there in 1893. Wright became the chief practitioner of the Prairie school, building about 50 Prairie houses from 1900 to 1910. Early nonresidential buildings include the forward-looking Larkin Building in Buffalo, N.Y. (1904; destroyed 1950), and Unity Temple in Oak Park, Ill. (1906). In 1911 he began work on his own house, Taliesin, near Spring Green, Wis. The lavish Imperial Hotel in Tokyo (1915–22, dismantled 1967) was significant for its revolutionary floating cantilever construction, which made it one of the only large buildings to withstand the earthquake of 1923. In the 1930s he designed his low-cost Usonian houses, but his most admired house, Fallingwater, in Bear Run, Pa. (1936), is an extravagant country retreat cantilevered over a waterfall. His Johnson Wax Building (1936–39), an example of humane workplace design, touched off an avalanche of major commissions. Of particular note is the Guggenheim Museum (1956–59), which has no separate floor levels but instead uses a spiral ramp, realizing Wright's ideal of a continuous space. Throughout his career he retained the use of ornamental detail, earthy colours, and rich textural effects. His sensitive use of materials helped to control and perfect his dynamic expression of space, which opened a new era in American architecture. Often considered the greatest U.S. architect of all time, his greatest legacy is “organic architecture,” or the idea that buildings harmonize both with their inhabitants and with their environment.

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