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Frank Lloyd wright`s impact on the world of architecture

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I. Introduction

            The word architecture describes the overall look of a building. Through history, building styles have developed differently all over the world. The shapes of the first buildings were determined by the construction techniques people knew at the time and also by the materials available to them. People who lived near forests became carpenters and built with timber. In rocky regions people learnt how to quarry stone and marble and build it into long-lasting monuments. Many ancient peoples used earth to build with, baking mud into bricks (see “Wright, Frank Lloyd”.

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Grolier encyclopedia of knowledge, pp. 392-394).

            Traditional building designs in different parts of the world have also been determined by the weather. For instance, in icy Scandinavian countries, people used to cover their roofs with turf to keep in the warmth. People in Mediterranean countries often whitewash their houses, so that the Sun’s heat bounces off the bright paint and keeps them cool. Egyptian villagers like homes with flat roofs where they can lay out fruits to dry in the Sun (see “Wright, Frank Lloyd”. Grolier encyclopedia of knowledge, pp. 392-394).

            Who decides what a building should look like? It is the job of an architect. The word architect is Greek and means builder or craft worker. Before an architect designs a new building, she or he needs to know how much money can be spent, what the building will be used for and how many people will use it. The architect also considers existing buildings nearby, to make sure the new design fits in. Then the architect decides which materials are best and draws up plans. As well as looking good, the building must be safe, strong and comfortable, and suit its purpose (see “Wright, Frank Lloyd”. Grolier encyclopedia of knowledge, pp. 392-394).

            Furthermore, the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century was a turning point in architecture. On one hand, the rapid building of factories and workers’ housing resulted in smoky, sprawling cities of dirt and poverty. On the other hand, the invention of new machines that could mass-produce glass, steel and concrete opened up new opportunities for building. London’s Crystal Palace of 1850 to 1851 stunned people with the space created by its vast expanse of glass. And from 1887 to 1889, the Eiffel Tower in Paris was built by an innovative use of metal (see “Frank Lloyd Wright”. New Standard Encyclopedia, pp. 415-416).

            Since the turn of the 20th century, architects have tried to escape the influence of previous styles and devise original ideas for buildings. From around 1890 until the early 1900s, architects in Brussels and Paris developed a highly ornate style of decoration for buildings, which was based on plants and flowers and came to be called Art Nouveau. From 1900 to the 1940s, a leading American architect called Frank Lloyd Wright worked on buildings that blended in with their natural surroundings, calling it organic architecture. Other 20th-century architecture has been developed along an industrial, rather than a natural, style. After the invention of the lift, architects in Chicago, United States, created a brand new type of building—the towering steel skyscraper. The style of the skyscrapers built in the 1920s and 1930s in America is today known as Art Deco. An industrial type of architecture called Bauhaus developed in Germany and Switzerland, which focused on designing functional homes for the general public (see “Frank Lloyd Wright”. New Standard Encyclopedia, pp. 415-416).

            This study figures out who Frank Lloyd Wright is and learns how he impacts the world of architecture.

II. Background

A. Who Frank Lloyd Wright is?

            Frank Lloyd Wright was a United States architect. He was the leader of a school of architects who favored radical departures from past styles. Wright condemned unimaginative box-shaped skyscrapers crowded cities, and dwellings divided into box-like rooms. Noted for his salty comments, he once referred to a skyscraper-type capitol as a “sidewalk-happy chimneypot with a derby hat on top.”

            Frank Lloyd Wright his kind of architecture “organic styling.” His buildings were planned to express clearly their function and to harmonize in lines and materials with their surroundings. Much of his theory took form in the “prairie architecture” of his low, spacious, and well-lighted homes. For an example of his use of cantilever construction picture of “Falling Water.” For office buildings he made extensive use of concrete slabs, glass bricks, and metal tubing (see “Frank Lloyd Wright”. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, Marc 1, 2007).

            Wright’s buildings often inspired controversy. The six-story, circular Guggenheim Art Museum in New York City, completed in 1959, was highly praised by some, and by others was called a “washing machine,” a “marshmallow,” and other names. Its gallery is a continuous spiraling ramp. Wright’s practical genius was shown in the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, Japan, completed in 1922. Of cantilever construction and resting on underlying mud, to withstand shocks, it was one of the few undamaged buildings standing after the 1923 earthquake. When the building was torn down in 1968, the lobby was preserved as a national monument (see Storrer, William Allin. “The Frank Lloyd Companion”. ISBN 0-226-77624-7).

III. Discussion

A. How he impacts the world of architecture?

            Frank Lloyd Wright was one of the most famous, influential and imaginative architects that the United States of America have produced. During his long career, he designed more than 600 buildings excluding skyscrapers, factories, and private homes. For almost 70 years, Frank Lloyd Wright was able to create a striking variety of architecture forms. Wright’s works ranged from traditional buildings typical of the late 1800’s to ultramodern designs, such as his plan for skyscraper 1 mile (1.6 kilometers) high (see Storrer, William Allin. “The Frank Lloyd Companion”).

            Frank Lloyd Wright became internationally famous as early as 1910, but he never established a style that dominated other American or European architecture. His influence was great but generally indirect. It was spread as much by his speeches and writings as by his buildings and designs. Frank Lloyd Wright’s Autobiography was one of the great literary self-portraits of the 1900’s, provides insights into his philosophy of architecture.

B. Frank Lloyd Wright’s Career

v  Early Career

            Frank Lloyd Wright was born in Richland center, Wisconsin, on June 8, 1869. His father was a Baptist minister, and his mother was a teacher. He revealed an interest in buildings when he was very young. His mother stimulated his interest by giving him geometric blocks to play with. She also hung pictures of famous buildings in his room.

            At 16 Frank became an engineering student and he studied engineering briefly at the University of Wisconsin in the middle of 1880’s. In 1887, Frank Lloyd Wright moved to Chicago, where he became a draftsman in the office of Joseph Lyman Silsbee, a noted Midwestern architect. Frank Lloyd Wright designed his first building while working for Silsbee (see “Frank Lloyd Wright”. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, Marc 1, 2007).

            Later in 1887, Frank Lloyd Wright joined the staff of the famous Chicago architect Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan. He soon became their chief draftsman. Frank Lloyd Wright left Adler and worked closely with Sullivan, who has been called the father of modern architecture, in 1893 to establish his own practice. The most important lesson that Frank Lloyd Wright learned from his teacher was that the purpose of a building should determine its design—a railroad station should have a practical design and should not look like a Roman bath.  Frank Lloyd Wright’s work after 1893 reflected Sullivan’s influence, especially in attempts to harmonize a building’s form with its function. Moreover, in 1893, Frank Lloyd Wright opened his own office, but he always remained faithful to the theories of his teacher. Frank Lloyd Wright believed that architecture should belong with its natural surroundings.

            Frank Lloyd Wright’s first distinctive buildings were homes designed in his famous prairie style.  In a typical prairie house, open spaces inside the home expand into the outdoors through porches and terraces. On the Midwestern plains of the United States he built long, low, rugged-looking homes that came to be called prairie houses. He tried to use materials native to the region. He called his main principle organic architecture. By this, Frank Lloyd Wright meant that a house should suit its inhabitants and should blend into the landscape around it. He used few walls to separate rooms. Often the material of outside walls was used also used inside, to strengthen the feeling that the house belonged to its environment; thus, this effect was emphasized by Frank Lloyd Wright’s use of wood and other materials as they appear in nature (see Frank Lloyd Wright’s Glass Designs, Carla Lind, Pomegranate Artbooks/Archetype Press, 1995).

            Frank Lloyd Wright designed many prairie houses in and around Chicago. The Willitts house (1902) in Highland Park was shaped like a cross, with the rooms arranged as they seemed to flow into one another. The Robie house (1909) in Chicago looks like a series of horizontal layers floating over the ground. Below is an example of

            From the start, Frank Lloyd Wright was successful. Many people were impressed with the practical features of his architecture. His buildings were light and airy and easy to care for. No less important was the fact that Wright’s structures were very well made. These features came to the attention of businessmen, and in 1904 he was hired to design an office building, the Larkin Building in Buffalo, New York. Frank Lloyd Wright’s major nonresidential designs of the early 1900’s included the Larkin Soap Company administration building (1904) in Buffalo, New York, and Unity Temple (1906) in Oak Park, III. Frank Lloyd Wright designed not only the building but also the all-steel furniture, the central sir-conditioning system, and the steel-bound doors. The Larkin Building was the first in which such features were used. Moreover, Unity temple was the first public building in the United States that showed its concrete construction. In earlier buildings, the concrete had been covered with other materials (see Frank Lloyd Wright: A Biography, Meryle Secrest, University of Chicago Press, 1992).

            On his return from his trip to Europe in 1910, Frank Lloyd Wright built in 1911 a new home for himself at Spring Green, Wisconsin, calling it Taliesin (Welsh for shining brow). Taliesin burned in 1914, but was rebuilt. The house again burned in 1925 and Wright temporarily exhausted his resources in rebuilding it.

            In addition, in 1910, a German publishing firm published a luxurious volume of illustrations of Frank Lloyd Wright’s drawings and plans. A second volume appeared in 1911. These books and later publications of Frank Lloyd Wright’s works strongly influenced the development of architecture in Europe from about 1913 through the 1920’s European architects were especially impressed by Frank Lloyd Wright’s complex use of cubic shapes.

            Wright’s reputation spread throughout the world. In 1915, the emperor of Japan asked Frank Lloyd Wright to design the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, Japan. So, he planned the Imperial Hotel Complex (1922) in Tokyo. Earthquakes endanger all buildings in Japan. Architects before Frank Lloyd Wright had tried to prevent the destruction of buildings by using heavy, deep foundations. Frank Lloyd Wright built with a shallow foundation and pliable materials. He believed that his buildings would sway with the earth’s movement. Truly, Frank Lloyd was right.  The old Imperial Hotel (replaced in 1971) was signed to withstand the earthquakes common in Japan and was one of the few undamaged survivors of a severe earthquake that struck Tokyo in 1923. In addition, during the 1920’s, Frank Lloyd Wright designed several houses in southern California that are noted for the use of precast concrete blocks (see Frank Lloyd Wright: A Biography, Meryle Secrest, University of Chicago Press, 1992.).

B. Later career

            Outspoken and independent, Wright was a celebrity in his later years. Once when he was questioned about the low ceilings in his Guggenheim Museum in New York, he said, “If the paintings are too large, cut them in half.” His opinions were not limited to questions of architecture. During a television appearance he remarked that he had voted against a presidential candidate because the man was “too good for the job.” In 1932, Frank Lloyd Wright established a school for architects called the Taliesin fellowship for apprentices who paid to work with him. In 1938, construction of Fran Lloyd Wright’s winter headquarters at phoenix, Arizona, was begun by the Fellowship. This was named Taliesin West. Nonetheless, Frank Lloyd Wright was awarded the Royal Gold Medal for Architecture by King George VI of Great Britain in 1941, and the Gold Medal of the American Institute of Architecture in 1949 (see Heinz, Thomas A. Frank Lloyd Wright Field Guide).

              After Frank Lloyd Wright died in Phoenix, Arizona, on April 9, 1959, the Taliesin architects carried out some of his unfinished projects. His widow continued to run the fellowship, based at Taliesin East, his Wisconsin home, as a year-round community.

IV. Conclusion

            Frank Lloyd Wright was the one of the most innovative and influential figures in Modern Architecture. In his radically original designs for both residential and commercial structures, as well as in his prolific writings on modern architecture and society, he championed the virtues of what he termed organic architecture, a building style based on natural forms.


“Wright, Frank Lloyd”. Grolier encyclopedia of knowledge, pp. 392-394.
“Frank Lloyd Wright”. New Standard Encyclopedia, pp. 415-416.
“Frank Lloyd Wright”. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, Marc 1, 2007. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Lloyd_Wright
Storrer, William Allin. “The Frank Lloyd Companion”. ISBN 0-226-77624-7.
Frank Lloyd Wright’s Glass Designs, Carla Lind, Pomegranate Artbooks/Archetype Press, 1995.
Frank Lloyd Wright: A Biography, Meryle Secrest, University of Chicago Press, 1992.
Heinz, Thomas A. Frank Lloyd Wright Field Guide. ISBN 0-8101-2244-8.

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