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American Architect-Innovator Frank Lloyd Wright Term Paper

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Updated: Mar 14th, 2022

Frank Lloyd Wright is an American architect-innovator, who greatly influenced the development of Western architecture in the first half of the XX century. He is known for creating “organic architecture” and for being a propagandist of the open layout. Also, he is famous for being an outstanding interior designer, educator, and writer. He designed more than 1000 projects resulted in 500 completed works. He was the leader of the Prairie School movement in architecture, also developed the concept of the Usonian house. “His work includes original and innovative examples of many different building types, including offices, churches, schools, skyscrapers, hotels, and museums. Wright also often designed many of the interior elements of his buildings, such as the furniture and stained glass” (Secrest, 1993).

After educating at the University of Wisconsin in Madison (1885-1887), since 1888 Wright worked with architects D. Adler and L. Sullivan in Chicago. And since 1890 he took part in the development of all their projects. In 1893 Wright left their company and opened his architect bureau.

Japanese Pavilion on International Exhibition in Chicago of 1893 aroused his interest in Japanese architecture.

In 1905 Wright traveled for the first time to Japan and in 1906 he held an exhibition of Hiroshige color prints in Art Institution of Chicago.

In 1909 and 1910 the architect traveled to Berlin and there he took part in making “Built Constructions and Projects”, a book published by Wasmuth. In 1913 he traveled to Japan once again, after receiving the order to complete the building of the “Imperial” hotel. This was the reason that caused the establishment of the architectural bureau of Wright in Tokyo in 1915. After returning to USA Wright published several issues, including the monograph “Modern Architecture” and gave several lectures at the University of Chicago.

Exhibitions dedicated to his works were held in 1931 in New York, Amsterdam, Berlin, Frankfurt, Brussels, Miluoki, and Chicago. In 1932 the architect escaped from public life to Wisconsin. Until 1940 he was engaged mainly in teaching and theoretical working. After this period he began to complete many architectural orders again.

Wright was a pupil of Sullivan, that’s why he created houses according to his thesis “function determines form” (Lipman, 1986), which form depending on their intended use, material, construction, and, not after all the other, of landscape layout surrounding them. A good example of closely connected architecture with nature is dwelling houses from the so-called Prairie series – low buildings made of wood and stones with wide porches, covered with plain roofs, and surrounded by gardens. Wright’s contributions to the development of various architectural movements of the XX century appeared to be extremely valuable. Since 1910 getting acquainted with the works of the famous master became an inherent part of the education of any contemporary young architect. Wright’s the most outstanding buildings are Winslow house in River-Frost, Illinois (1893), Heat’s House in Buffalo (1905), beside them – the hotel “Imperial” in Tokyo (1916-1920), administrative building of company “Johnson Wax” in Raisin, Wisconsin (1936-1939), the house at the waterfall of Ber-Rahn Pensylvania (1937-1939), and Guggenheim Museum in New-York (project 1943, completed in 1956-1959) (Pfeiffer, 2004). But there is one more building that Mr. Wright made for his fourth son, David. It is called David Wright House, built-in 1950 in Arizona.

“The David Wright Residence was designed in 1950 by Frank Lloyd Wright for this fourth son from his first marriage. Intended as a Desert Dwelling, the residence is lifted off of the desert floor in a spiraling design, a ramp-way provides access; all terminating in the master suite. Such design allowed for systems placement and concealment as well as to catch a gentle desert breeze. A reinforced concrete floor cantilevers the space and the interiors are of Philippine mahogany. A beautiful home, it gracefully curls on itself, while maintaining a subtle elevation above the landscape that provides stunning views of Camelback Mountain, intentionally placed at a height above the surrounding citrus orchards, now all but gone or built-out with residences.

Mr. David Wright was involved with the design, manufacture, and marketing of concrete blocks so the original design was modified slightly in planning by Mr. Wesley Peters to accommodate the block construction. A custom concrete block frieze adorns this graceful gem. The David Wright Residence was the last FLLW designed home continually used by the family of Mr. Wright in Arizona” (“David Wright Residence by Frank Lloyd Wright”).

Wright in Arizona

The family home, set in birch woodland, is currently on site. Reconciling the desire for light and views to the south with the need for privacy and energy conservation has given each primary elevation a distinct character. The house is 2,000 sq ft and includes, along with standard accommodation an internal slide, a double-height library, and a children’s play gym.

Research into alternative building technologies to achieve the most cost-effective construction budget is paramount to this project. Timber frame construction with brick, cedar cladding, and fiber cement panels form the outer skin.

Wright was deadly sure that after he would lift the house above the level of the hot desert, cool breezes would blow freely and more strongly, than in the bottom of the desert. Besides, a higher base of the building would allow it to lift over the garden made of citron trees. According to Legler, at first, Wright decided that the house should be built in a forest, however, he changed his decision, after a conversation with his son, as he convinced his father not to build the house in the forest.

The house looks like a half-ring put-on column. The second half of the ring is made by a ramp for lifting on the level of a floor of premises. Wright considered that such, as he used to say, “the informal” method of the organization of space is more pleasant for people, than a rectangular grid of the layout.

The hall is adjoined by a round kitchen in the planning round which bypasses a small spiral ramp. The kitchen is separated from the general room by a fireplace of cylindrical form. The general room, trapezoid in the plan, has two balconies, leaving on opposite facades. Behind it, there are four bedrooms and two bathrooms. The house is made of concrete blocks (Storrer, 2002).

Despite the 2,000 sq. ft., the house seems from some angles to be a solid circle it is a coil similar to a ramp that spirals its classic in-line layout, where all the rooms are laid close to each other and are twisted until the head is posed over the tail.

“David Wright, Wright’s 4th child by his first wife. As a concrete block machinery sales executive David Wright wanted his father to design a home to show off block construction. Frank Lloyd Wright-designed this as a generic home constructed in reinforced concrete for a project, “How to live in the southwest,” to show how a house in a citrus grove could sit above ground level with the treetops becoming its lawn. David had it re-engineered for block” (“David Wright Residence by Frank Lloyd Wright”).

“The lifted living area of the 2,250 square foot home is made in the shape of an arc from a circle 154 foot in diameter. Floor to ceiling windows gives a view of the pool shaped like an almond in the center of the external circle. The end of one of the bedrooms balances with the support of the cantilever. Access from the ground is available from a spiral inclined plane” (“David Wright Residence by Frank Lloyd Wright”). The roof is made of zinc-coated steel. In 2003, the county assessor published that the home’s full cash value reaches $891,500.

The house that the architect built for his son is a bright example of organic architecture, the style created by Wright. It combines both cement and concrete parts, and organic parts, such as wood. Zinc coated roof of the building provides waterproof and protects from hot sun rays of the desert, and concrete and cement parts make this house steadier and provide the house’s long life. Instead, wooden parts of the house make it ecologically clean and pleasant to live in.

As the layout of the house is far from being usual, made in rectangular form, it makes this house remarkable. Different circle and trapeze-shaped rooms make its view unfamiliar to the common eye; though the designing of the rooms is very comfortable.

The house is surrounded by a garden of citrus trees which creates an image of an oasis in the hot desert of Arizona. A small drop of green color among a big spot of sand is a great design idea as it makes this house attractive for the eye.

To my mind, David Wright House is one of the most attractive buildings made after Frank Lloyd Wright’s layout. It is attractive both from the point of view of an architect and from the point of view of a designer and an interior designer. Bright ideas of the organic architect are embodied in this construction. In spite of his son’s opinion, Wright made his first idea of building this house in the forest come true. It can be easily noticed in the garden surrounding the construction. Also, his house fits so well into the landscape of the desert that it seems that this house is staying here from the beginning of the times as if Mother Nature created it. After recognizing him as a classic of architecture during his life, Frank Lloyd Wright till today is a bright and outstanding representative of architecture. His sketches and layout are still taken as an example and his dwelling constructions and constructions are among the most cash value. And this house dedicated to his son is one of them, the remarkable notice of talent of the great architect.

Works Cited

Archthings.com. “David Wright Residence by Frank Lloyd Wright”. Archthings, n. d. Web.

Lipman, Jonathan. Frank Lloyd Wright and the Johnson Wax Buildings. New York: Rizzoli, 1986. Print.

Pfeiffer, Bruce B. Frank Lloyd Wright, 1867-1959: building for democracy. Germany: Taschen, 2004. Print.

Secrest, Meryle, Knopf, Alfred A. Frank Lloyd Wright: A Biography. n. p., 1993. Print.

Storrer, William A. The architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright: a complete catalog. Chicago: the University of Chicago Press, 2002. Print.

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