The Great Frank Lloyd Wright
Today we are celebrating the great Frank Lloyd Wright's 150th birthday! If you're an architect or designer the chances are pretty high that you've heard of the great Frank Lloyd Wright. If not, what school did you go to? All kidding aside, as we work closely with interior designers and architects with our specialty paint we've followed architecture and design very closely.
Frank Lloyd Wright's Top 5
Although it's nearly impossible to curate an entire collection of the great Frank Lloyd Wrights work into one blog post, we would love to go deeper into some of his most beautiful pieces. Scroll through for our Top 5.
New York City, New York
Wright was not fond of New York City, he viewed the city as being overbuilt with little architectural merit. While the Guggenheim project wasn't without struggle, they landed on a location as close to nature as they could get in New York; on Fifth Avenue between 88th and 89th street, close to Central Park.
This complex project was a struggle for Wright, and both Guggenheim and Wright would die before the building was completed in 1959.
This renowned design is truly quite beautiful. Influenced by nature, this designed sought to mimic organic forms of nature, using a nautilus shell design combined with rigid geometry. This unique design creates a museum unlike any other and offers up truly one of a kind interior architecture design. Galleries are divided like the membranes of a citrus fruit, the open rotunda allows views of several bodies of work on different levels simultaneously.
Mill Run, Pennsylvania
Originally designed and built for Wright's clients, the Kaufmann family, this beautiful house instantly became famous and is now today a National Historic Landmark and a Pennsylvania state historical marker. One of the greatest architectural triumphs of the 20th century, the Kaufmann's Fallingwater was designed to replace the Kaufmanns' deteriorated cabins located on property outside of Pittsburgh that featured a waterfall.
Wright drew up the plans for Fallingwater in the 2 hours it took Kaufmann Sr. to drive to Wright's Taliesin property. Originally Kaufmann Sr. was very upset with these plans, as he had always wanted the property to be built on the southern bank of Bear Run, directly facing the falls, where Wright had plans to build it directly on top of the waterfall.
The total price of this project was around $155,000, original estimate was $35,000. When adjusted for inflation, this is around $2.7 million. Kaufmann jr. donated the property to Western Pennsylvania Conservatory in 1963, where it opened to the public as a museum shortly after.
Kaufmann jr. has said of Wright "Wright understood that people were creates of nature, hence an architecture which conformed to nature would conform to what was basic in people. For example, although all of Fallingwater is opened by broad bands of windows, people inside are sheltered as in a deep cave, secure in the sense of the hill behind them".
The American Institute of Architects named Wright's Fallingwater as "best all-time work of American architecture" in 2007, and also ranked it as 29th on the list of America's Favorite Architecture according to the AIA. Wright's passion for Japanese architecture is apparent through the design of Fallingwater, especially in the harmony between man and nature.
Taliesin (Taliesin East, Taliesin Spring Green or Taliesin North)
Spring Green, Wisconsin
The Taliesin estate was the estate of Frank Lloyd Wright located in Spring Green, Wisconsin, where Wright grew up. This masterpiece married architecture and design with the rolling hills of the landscape; marrying architecture and nature was something that he carried throughout his work. Taliesin served as Wright's headquarters for the bulk of his work, only later in his life moving to his Taliesin West estate in Arizona for the colder months of the year.
Completed in 1911, the Taliesin structure used design principles Wright used for the Prairie School, featured an agricultural and studio wing, and sat on 600 acres of property.
Unfortunately, Taliesin is probably best known for murder and scandal. (Gasp!) Who would have thought a paint blog would ever discuss a murder?! In August of 1914 a servant set fire to the Taliesin residence while Wright was in Chicago on business, killing Mamah Borthwick (Wright's mistress), two of her children, and four others. This became the story line of many works of literature. Taliesin caught flames once more in 1925 due to electrical problems, this time reducing it to ash, killing no one. Wright saw this as an opportunity to improve the structure, and rebuilt it with improvements.
The original Taliesin house had three sections. Typical of his Prairie School design, the house was "low, wide, and snug" as described by Wright. One with nature, he used yellow limestone from a local quarry of outcropping ledges on a nearby hill. The stones were laid in long, thin ledges "evoking the natural way that they were found in the quarry and across the Driftless Area". The interior had a golden hue as he mixed the plaster with sienna, resembling the sand beaches of the Wisconsin River.
Taliesin West was Wright's answer to the cold winter months in Wisconsin. Located in Scottsdale, Arizona, this estate was Wright's winter home and school in the desert from 1937 until he died at the age of 91 in 1959. Through the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Taliesin West is now The Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture that offers comprehensive study towards a professional Master of Architecture degree (how's that for educational facility designs?), and is also a U.S. National Historic Landmark.
Wright felt very strongly about his connection to the desert, and used materials that were readily available to the location (as per his usual preferences for building) and made the structure of local desert rock, stacked within wood forms and filled with concrete.
Keeping the interior in touch with the natural surroundings, Wright also designed Taliesin West to have plenty of natural light, using translucent canvas to act as a roof in the drafting room (later replaced with plastic due to intense wear from the Arizona sun), and designing the south-facing dining room to receive natural light from outside. The dining room was designed to receive natural light by not extending the walls from floor to ceiling but instead extending the roof to hang past the walls, preventing unwanted sun rays but allowing horizontal light to filter in.
As with Taliesin East, Wright was constantly making improvements to this structure, redesigning and fixing problems as he saw them, once even moving the entrance to Taliesin West to the rear of the main building.
Los Angeles, California
This Mayan Revival style house in the East Hollywood neighborhood of Los Angeles was designed by Wright as a residence for oil heiress Aline Barnsdall in 1919-1921. It is one of 10 of Frank Lloyd Wright's structures to be a World Heritage Site.
Originally intended to be part of an arts and theater complex on a property known as Olive Hill, the larger project was never completed, and became home to Los Angeles's Barnsdall Art Park when the cost of construction and maintenance became too much.
The Hollyhock house is different from Wright's other works we've explored in this blog, straying from the Prairie School and organic styles into a Mayan Revival style. However, the structure does incorporate a complex system of split levels, steps and roof terraces that Wright has used in many projects.
The Hollyhock house gets its name from the hollyhock plant, that is used repeatedly as a symmetrical motif across the design of the house and its features. The front entryway is stepped, the exterior walls are tilted back at 85 degrees, it features art glass windows and a moat that is meant to flow water from a pool in the courtyard through an underground tunnel to the inside moat and back out again to a fountain. Unfortunately, the Hollyhock house was not a livable dwelling. Water tended to flow over the central lawn and into the house, it didn't hold up well to the area's earthquakes, and the flat roof terraces didn't make sense with Los Angeles' rains - repairs and restorations are costly and frequent.
Also uncommon from Wright's other pieces, Wright was unable to supervise the majority of the construction due to his work on the Imperial Hotel in Japan at the same time, so the construction was managed by his assistant, Rudolph Schindler, and his son, Lloyd Wright.
Visit A Frank Lloyd Wright Structure
Some of you may be lucky enough to live within visiting distance (or maybe you're really into it and you're willing to travel!) to check out some of these historic Frank Lloyd Wright pieces in person. As many of Wright's structures are historic landmarks they are open to public tours. Which is your favorite?