Frank Lloyd Wright and American ArchitectureArchitecture can be defined as the art or science of planning and building structures.Architecture is important because it satisfies the basic human need for shelter.Architectural structures serve specific purposes. Examples include: government buildings; other public buildings, such as libraries or museums; commercial buildings, including offices, banks, or shops; buildings for transportation- airline terminals, train stations, etc.; religious buildings; and, of course, residences.
Each structure has a function but also a particular character or style. Style is a characteristic, or a number of characteristics that we can identify as constant, recurring, or coherent. In art, the sum of characteristics associated with a particular artist, group, or culture, or with an artist’s work at a specific time. This, in my mind, is what makes architecture art.
It is impossible to talk about architecture without mentioning the name Frank Lloyd Wright. Many consider him to be the greatest American architect of his time as well as the greatest designer of residential architecture. Wright himself once said, “…having a good start, not only do I fully intend to be the greatest architect who yet lived, but fully intend to be the greatest architect who will ever live. Yes, I intend to be the greatest architect of all time.”
Frank Lloyd Wright was born on June 8, 1867 in Richland Center, Wisconsin. While growing up, his mother’s side of the family always had a great influence on him. The family was Unitary in faith and lived close together. The family stressed the values of education, religion, and nature. Wright’s family spent many evenings listening to Willliam Lincoln Wright read the works of Emerson, Thoreau, and Blake out loud. Also, his aunts Nell and Jane opened a school of their own in which they stressed the philosophies of the German educator, Froebel. Wright was brought up in a comfortable, but certainly not warm, household. His father, William Carey Wright, worked as a preacher and musician. He moved from job to job and frequently moved his family across the United States. His parents divorced when Wright was still young at a time when divorce was very uncommon.
Even before her son was born, Anna Wright had decided that her son was going to be a great architect. Using Froebel’s geometric blocks t…
Wright often used the colors of autumn in the Midwest, however red was his signature especially in the 1930’s. For light he relied heavily upon the sun’s power, and many of his buildings included skylights or subtle electrical lighting. He believed that the ornamentation should compliment all of this, not distract from it. Treating the building as an integral unit, Wright often designed down to the smallest detail including dining ware, furniture, and statues. His geometric designs were interpretations of nature. He was an architect of democracy in an era of political freedom. It is apparent Wright felt no constraints from the popular culture as he faced harsh criticism many times for his works.
Wright left behind hundreds of plans that are being pursued today. Ground breaking for Monona Terrace in Madison, Wisconsin occurred not long ago. This design, which was conceived by Wright fifty years ago, includes government offices, an auditorium, and rail terminal all in one mammoth civic center.
Wright’s creations have stood the test of time. His influence is still strong today. I believe he succeeded in his mission of being the greatest architect of all time.