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Frank Lloyd Wright

Frank Lloyd Wright

*  1867 Richland Center
† 1959 Phoenix

The celebrated American architect and designer Frank Lloyd Wright was born in Richland Center, Wisconsin, in 1867. In 1885 Frank Lloyd Wright began to study mechanical engineering at the University of Wisconsin but by 1887 had dropped out to work in the Chicago architectural practice of Joseph L. Silsbee. Not long afterwards he transferred to the practice of D. Adler and L. Sullivan, who were among the most distinguished progressive architects of their day. He was responsible for commissions for private houses. In 1893 Frank Lloyd Wright founded a practice of his own in Chicago. By 1909 he had designed and built about fifty private houses in what is known as the "Prairie Style", low buildings of stone, brick, and wood that fitted harmoniously into their surroundings and were comfortable, spacious, and steeped in atmosphere. "Robie House" (1906) is regarded as the most mature example of the "Prairie House"; the interior was also designed throughout by Frank Lloyd Wright. Between 1903 and 1905 Frank Lloyd Wright worked on designing and building the Larkin Building for the Larkin Company in Buffalo. In 1904 Frank Lloyd Wright even designed a metal swivel chair for the Larkin offices. In 1905 Frank Lloyd Wright designed "Unity Temple" in Oak Park, a Chicago suburb. From 1909-1911 he traveled through Europe. In Berlin he consulted with the publisher Ernst Wasmuth on a book about his work. Frank Lloyd Wright built his own house, "Taliesin", at Spring Green, Wisconsin, in 1911. In 1916 Frank Lloyd Wright received the prestigious commission to design the "Imperial Hotel" in Tokyo and he spent most of his time from then on until 1922 in Japan. In 1922 Wright opened a practice in Los Angeles. In the late 1920s, however, the worldwide economic slump forced Wright to move back to Spring Green. There he founded the "Taliesin Fellowship", a blend of architecture school and guild. Until 1934 Frank Lloyd Wright and his students developed "Broadacre City", a utopian housing project. In 1935 Edgar J. Kaufmann, a student of Frank Lloyd Wright's, commissioned his teacher to build him a house, "Falling Water", at Mill Run, Pennsylvania. He also designed the interior of "Falling Water"; the entire house was equipped with underfloor heating. For S.C. Johnson & Son, Wright built the Johnson Wax Building in Racine, Wisconsin, between 1936 and 1939. In the 1940s he began working on the plans for the celebrated round building that was to house the Guggenheim Museum. By the time Solomon R. Guggenheim died in 1949, the spectacular spiral interior of the Museum was causing heated disputes with the executors of his estate. The Guggenheim was not completed until 1959, six months after he himself died at the age of ninety-two. He always took advantage of cutting-edge design and technologies but never neglected a humanitarian approach to form that fitted into its context as a whole: "The good building makes the landscape more beautiful than it was before the building was built."