Frank Lloyd Wright: A Legacy That Lives On
During his career of 70 years, Frank Lloyd Wright, who was recognized as “The Greatest American Architect of All Time” and was arguably the most famous architect in the USA, made significant and influential contributions in the architecture world during the 20th century. With 400 designs built, Wright's signature style was known as the “Prairie School Style”, and the “Usonian Home” concept can be seen throughout his work. Today, many of Wright’s works have become notable architecture structures. Scroll down to see some of the masterful architect's spectacular designs.
Fallingwater, Pennsylvania, USA
Fallingwater is one of Wright’s greatest masterpiece that best portrays his design style. The minimalist house, designed and built in the 1930s, sits on top of an active waterfall surrounded by a forest, reflecting his signature philosophy of organic architectures and his passion for Japanese architectures. Wright intentionally integrated the structure to its surrounding environment to create a sense of harmony between man and nature, which includes the two-colour palette to match the rural setting of Pennsylvania, the quarried rock wall and cantilevered terrace to match the surrounding rock formation, natural springs flowing inside the house and channels back outside and many more. Currently, Fallingwater is open for public tours between March through December.
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, USA
Wright spent 16 years designing the Guggenheim Museum, but unfortunately it was completed and opened six months after his death in 1959. Nonetheless, it became one of New York’s landmarks for its breathtaking design. Wright used the cylindrical form to conceive Hilla von Rebay’s idea of a “temple of the spirits” concept and claimed that the geometric design suggests certain human ideas, moods, and sentiments. The ramp itself resembles a nautilus chamber and was designed in order for visitors to leisurely stroll from the top to the bottom of the building while enjoying the museum’s modern art collections. Regardless of the absence of Wright’s signature cubism architecture style, the Guggenheim Museum still includes Wright’s other architectural trademarks such as exposed concrete and the use of large glass domes.
Unity Temple, Chicago, USA
Built from 1905 to 1908, the Unity Temple is considered to be one of Wright’s earliest buildings that used exposed concrete in its design, which later became his signature style. The Temple has also been recognized as a “UNESCO World Heritage Site” and is considered as one of the first modern buildings in the world by many architects.
The Unity Temple was built to replace the Chicago’s Oak Park Unity Church. For a religious structure, its design is somewhat unique and seen as radical, challenging the traditional form of a religious building known at the time. The structure shows Wright’s cubism style, a fortress-like cubist architecture with the lack of windows, which is very unusual for a church. This design was the result of a tight budget and Wright attempted his best to design the building to be as cost-effective as possible. He maximized every usage of space refined the structure with his rich wooden design, stained glass as well as furniture designed by Wright himself – to bring in a sense of tranquillity.
Taliesin Spring Green, Wisconsin, USA
Taliesin, completed in 1959, was designed to be Wright’s personal home estate and primary studio. Built near the architect’s birthplace, the structure takes up 37,000 sqm of the 243-hectare property that sits atop Wisconsin Hill. Taliesin’s design clearly shows Wright's signature Prairie School Style, with its flat geometric design and integrated elements reflecting its surrounding environment, including the quarried yellow limestone and 524 windows that allow natural light to brighten up the interiors of the building.
Behind the astonishing structure, Taliesin has witnessed tragic events including two devastating fire incidents – one of them being a fatal incident that took the lives of seven Taliesin residents. This incident led to several rebuilding efforts by Wright, who had also temporarily lost the property to a bank foreclosure. These incidents resulted to Taliesin becoming the longest project Wright ever had throughout his career. Regardless of its grim history, some of Wright’s finest works such as Fallingwater and Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum were designed in this very property and Taliesin has now been recognized as a Natural Historic Landmark and UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Darwin D. Martin House, Buffalo, USA
Quoted as “a well-nigh perfect composition” by Wright himself, the Martin House is a private residence belonging to a Buffalo businessman. It is one of the best examples of Wright’s Prairie School style. The architect described the house to be a “tout ensemble” as he designed both the exterior and the interior. This property extends to six other interconnected buildings that covers a 2,700-sqm land, creating the property as a complex of houses.
Wright took upon the challenge and designed the residence using golden mortar bricks and installed 394 pieces of art glass windows with 750 individual jewel-like iridescent glass pieces, which tripled the original budget of the project. The grandeur of both the design and budget did not disappoint and the house became one of Wright’s most important projects, as it established a relationship between him and the businessman, Darwin D. Martin – who later provided Wright with financial assistance that helped him throughout his career. Now, the property is deemed as a National Historical Landmark and was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
Imperial Hotel, Tokyo, Japan
Wright was known to hold a deep fascination for Japanese design and arts, especially after visiting the country in the early 1900s. When the Imperial Hotel in the capital was looking for a facelift, they chose none other than Frank Lloyd Wright. The high-profile project resulted into the hotel’s eponymous nickname “Wright Imperial” or “The Wright Hotel”, which to this day is considered to be one his most impressive work in Asia.
The Wright Hotel’s design concept crosses occidental and oriental styles, with a focus on the Mayan Revival style. Wright chose a number of materials, including exposed bricks, reinforced concrete, ornamental tiles, and Oya stone, a kind of Japanese volcanic tuff with grey and green hues, which were carved to loosely mirror Mayan reliefs. Sadly, after a series of unfortunate events, the current edifice that stands isn't the one designed Wright. However, the largest suite inside the hotel was named after the famed architect, whose legacy lives on.