Analysis of the Buildings of Frank Lloyd Wright


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Frank Lloyd Wright was born in June 8, 1867 and known to be the greatest American designer of all times. In 1932, ten edifices by Wright has been selected to take part in an exhibition of The International Style at the Museum of Modern Art ( MoMa ) . This has been seen as a treatment of the attack of Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture ; whether an International Style or a regional architecture. ( Wodehouse, 1991 )

‘… There is, foremost, a new construct of architecture as volume instead than mass’ ( Russell and Johnson, 1932 ) . Based on the first rule, the International manner provinces that walls are simply shells environing a edifice, and does non play a function in the support. Contrary to the walls of traditional masonry, the function of the support is played by the skeleton building.


This rule would let the edifice to be free of internal supports and therefore increasing the volume of the infinite it encloses. ‘Volume is felt as immaterial and weightless, a geometrically bounded space’ . ( Russell and Johnson, 1932: 59 )


Figure 3 Frederick C. Robie House Floor Plan ( 1907 )

Wright is known for his “open plan” houses where the dining, life and other common suites were merged into a individual entitiy. In this instance, the prairie manner had seemed to hold been deliberately designed to suit this construct. The full first floor of the Robie House is made into a big individual infinite, dividing activities by screens and subdivisions instead than walls and doors. ( Twombly, 1979 ) This creates a sense of integrity throughout the house and a infinite with a big volume.


Figure 3: Goetsch-Winckler House ( 1940 ) Floor Plan

In the instance of the Goetsch-Winckler House, the walls acts as independent screens but they do non specify a fixed volume. These ‘screens’ creates a low-level volume of infinites within the entire volume of the house. The edifice as whole is designed as an unfastened program and free of internal supports. The volume of the infinite is defined by the uninterrupted level roof and non by the exterior walls.

In relation to the walls being ‘screens’ , Windowss are now an built-in portion of the enveloping screen instead than a hole in the wall. ( Russell and Johnson, 1932 ) . Therefore, the frames of the window window glasss must be light plenty to be distinguished from true supports.


Frank Lloyd Wright clearly shows the version of this rule in his designs. An illustration would be the window window glasss in Wright’s Fallingwater. The window frames clearly show the distinguishable difference from the supports and is an built-in portion of the wall. The Windowss frames are light and does non bear the weight of the roof while the rock walls shows the support.

Another rule set out by the International Style is regularity instead than axial symmetricalness. ‘Regularity is modified by the equal necessity, understood in all aesthetic organisation, of accomplishing a proper grade of interest.’ ( Russell and Johnson, 1932 ) The rule of regularity involves the natural look of the assorted maps in a edifice. The International manner aims to split the proviso for irregular maps to regular construction and show it in a clear and consistent design.

C:UsersUserDesktopFallingwaterMainFloorPlan (1).jpg

Figure 5: Fallingwater, Pennsylvania First Floor Plan

Wright’s Fallingwater, Pennsylvania shows the rule of regularity. The program clearly shows that each single infinite in the edifice is carefully designed to suit the assorted maps. The program is asymmetrical and with the 2nd floor program and the 3rd floor program differing from one another. At the same clip, regularity is achieved through a form of window frames of the same size or similar units of the implicit in construction.

This provides regularity in the design which is both ordered and expressive. Henry Russell and Philip Johnson ( 1932 ) besides states that the rules of regularity tends to increase the consequence of general horizontality. Frank Lloyd Wright has been known to plan horizontally to harmonise with the

obie-house.jpgland. As one time Wright said, “The horizontal line is the line of domesticity” leting his places to “lie calm beneath a fantastic expanse of sky” . ( Wright, 1932 ) Other than that, most maps of a infinite requires development in the horizontal plane instead vertically.

The 3rd rule of the International Style is the rejection of arbitrary applied ornament. Prior to the Prairie Style, Wright has designed the James Charnley ( 1892 ) and William Winslow ( 1894 ) houses, noteworthy for its clean brick facade. Wright has already chose to abandon the usage of ornamentation. ( Twombly, 1979 )

Architecture has ne’er been without other signifiers of ornament. On the other manus, all right architecture inside informations have been used to have the edifice as a whole. Window inside informations have now played an of import characteristic of a edifice. Frank Lloyd Wright’s edifices are besides known for their window inside informations. For case, the delicate Windowss of Wright’s Studio in Oak Park, Illinois give a distinguishable characteristic to the edifice.

C:UsersUserDesktopimg_5925.jpgFurthermore, the rule besides prefers usage of the colors of natural surfacing stuffs. It is seen that the usage of colorss on different walls strongly emphasizes the consequence of the surface, but breaks up the integrity of volume. ( Russell and Johnson, 1932 ) Such in the instance of Wright’s Fallingwater, the usage of rock walls and natural metal colors gives the edifice a natural expression.

In topographic point of applied ornament, roof projections beyond the patios or walls can be seen as an architecture characteristic. It exists like the ceiling of the inside and acts as a jumping surface of a volume. ( Russell and Johnson, 1932 )

C:UsersUserDesktopRobie_House_HABS1.jpgOne of many Frank Lloyd Wright edifices which shows this characteristic is the Frederick C. Robie House in Chicago. The roofs are cantilevered beyond its walls and the uninterrupted level under bed of the roof confines the infinite beyond. With the added drawn-out fenestration running the length of the 2nd narrative, it gives the house horizontality and conforms to the site.

On the other manus, Frank Lloyd Wright is besides known to reject the thought of being grouped alongside Mies van de Rohe and Le Corbusier. He referred the coevalss of the International Style as ‘inferior’ and names his architecture an “organic architecture” .

In mention to the three rules above, Wright’s most noteworthy plants such as the Fallingwater has so applied International Style rules. His plant before 1932 such as the Alice Millard House at Pasadena, California has a close affinity to the International Syle. During the development of the Prairie Style, Wright footings his manner an “organic architecture” which bears a relation to the site, merely put, a regional architecture.


Figure 9: Front position of the Ho-o-den ( 1893 )

During the Chicago Fair of 1893, Wright stumbled upon the Ho-o-den, the official exhibit of the Imperial Nipponese Government: a half-scale reproduction of a wooden temple in Japan. “… Nipponese art, I found, truly did hold organic character, was nearer to the Earth and a more autochthonal merchandise of native conditions of life and work..” ( Wright, 1932 ) . This can be seen as an influence of Nipponese architecture to Wright’s development of a regional architecture, the Prairie Style.

Harmonizing to Rexford Newcomb, ‘regionalism’ is the apprehension of the site’s geographic, geologic, and clime conditions. ( Merrill, 1965 ) Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie architecture motion is a consequence of the regional architecture of Midwestern America.

At the same clip, Wright’s Taliesin North is an illustration of regionalism. Taliesin North is an extension of topographical and geological signifiers of the prairie in the country. It is besides designed horizontally to the prairie to accomplish a harmoniousness with the site. Like many of Wright’s edifices, the building stuffs for Taliesin North are made up of local rocks and Midwestern wood frame. The Prairie architecture motion, as its name implies, to be designed for the Midwestern prairie landscape.

C:UsersUserDesktopTaliesin-Building.jpgAnother illustration of regionalism is the Taliesin West, located in the comeuppances of Arizona. Being in a different site status of that of Taliesin North, Wright uses a different attack to the design. Another facet of regionalism is the traditions and civilization of the site. Home to the Native Americans, Wright’s stepped patios, low, heavy walls and level roofs recalls an image of Pueblo building. The edifice follows the contours of the desert and is chosen to be designed horizontally as the desert.

In 1987, Kenneth Frampton has laid out a few cardinal facets to critical regionalism. In his work, he mentioned critical regionalism and common signifiers. ‘Critical regionalism should, in my position, lie beyond style.’ ( Frampton, 1987: 20-27 ) In the early plant of Frank Lloyd Wright, he developed the Usonian house and the Prairie motion.


Figure 11: Jacob’s House, WisconsinFigure 12: Frederick C. Robie House

Both of those architectural manners were the consequences of critical analysis of the site and bear no mention to other manners. The manners were a response to the single climatic and topographical conditions.

In the attack of his architecture on the F. B. Henderson House ( 1901 ) in Illinois, Wright ( 1932 ) mentioned about its relation to the site. The wide roof-projection provides protection from the utmost violent climatic conditions on the site. Other than that, the unbroken expanse of horizontal trim in contrasting colorss, low-pitched roofs, free standing patio walls, and unfastened porches under wide eaves thrust the edifice beyond its cardinal massing. All of these elements are informed by the site conditions to go natural to the prairie site.

Another facet laid out by Kenneth Frampton, is the typography or topology of the site. In his ulterior old ages, Wright designed the Fallingwater in 1935. ( Frampton, 1987 ) The site location includes a waterfall and is surrounded by nature. The arrangement of the house above the waterfall is antiphonal to the site. Wright has come out with a design different from any other designs of his old plants, although it has rules of the International Style.

Frank Lloyd Wright besides designed the Johnson Wax Building in 193 and subsequently on, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. Both edifice has its ain intent and have different site conditions. Therefore, each undertaking is approached with a different design and usage of stuffs. Although those two edifices are different in signifiers to the Prairie and Usonian houses, it contains the same rules of unfastened infinite and the familiarity of a “family space” .


Figure 13: Johnson Wax HeadquartersFigure 14: Solomon R. Guggenheim Musuem


Figure 15: International Style Exhibition

Ten of Wright’s edifices were selected for the International Style exhibition in 1932. It is clear that those some of his edifices did so possess elements of the International Style. In his early plants, Wright has been influenced by Louis Sullivan and subsequently on developed the Prairie Style. During its development, Wright’s architecture has been informed by the conditions of the site and has outweighed the influence of the International Style. Wright besides claimed that each of his edifices were designed based on a peculiar site and could non be replicated elsewhere. It besides means that the site informs the design of the edifice. Wright besides tends to utilize natural stuffs in his edifices to determine machine made merchandises near to nature and more confidant to the milieus. ( Twombly, 1979 )

In decision, some of Wright’s edifices do so hold certain International Style elements and rules within them. It has to be understood that chiefly, those architecture are informed by critical analysis and designed with the site in head. Therefore, it would be accurate to state that Frank Lloyd Wright’s plants are a regional architecture.


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