Frank Lloyd Wright
Frank Lloyd Wright was born Frank Lincoln Wright on June 8, 1867. He was born in Richland Center, which is in southern Wisconsin. His father, William Carey Wright, was a musician and a preacher. His mother, Anna Lloyd-Jones was a teacher. It is said that his mother placed pictures of great buildings in young Frank’s nursery as part of training him from the earliest possible moment to be an architect.
Wright spent some time growing up on a farm owned by his uncle, which was located near spring Green, Wisconsin. He was of Welch heritage and was brought up in the Unitarian Religion. Wright briefly studied civil engineering at the University of Wisconsin in Madison and then moved to Chicago to work at an architectural firm. In 1887, he was hired as a draftsman by the firm of Alder and Sullivan.
At the time, the firm was designing Chicago’s Auditorium Building. Wright eventually became the head draftsman, as well as the leader of the firm’s residential designs. After obtaining these responsibilities, Wright began to design and apply his own architectural ideas. In 1889, he married his first wife, Catherine Tobin. He also began designing houses, which was against his firm’s policy because they were required to follow the designs sent to them, not make their own.
When his boss discovered this, Frank was fired. His house designs, however, were incredible. They showed the start of Wright’s low, sheltering rooflines, the prominence of the central fireplace, and intricate geometric designs on both doors and windows. Wright started his own firm in 1893, working out of a studio that was built into his home in Oak Park, a suburb of Chicago. Between 1893 and 1901, 49 buildings by Wright were built. During this period he began to develop his ideas, which would come together in his “Prairie House” concept.
Into 1909, he developed and refined the prairie style, and founded this concept in architecture, and his art of this early productive period in his life is also considered part of the arts and crafts movement because many of his designs not only had plans for the structure of the house but ideas of decorating the interior as well.
This very productive phase in Wrights’s career ended in 1909 when he left his wife and five children to go to Germany. He was joined there by Mamah Borthwick Cheney, the wife of a former client and now his girlfriend. From 1912 to 1914, Wright and Cheney lived together at Taliesin, a home he designed near his uncle’s farm in Spring Green, Wisconsin. This ended when a crazed servant murdered Chaney and six others, also setting a fire that destroyed most of Taliesin.
During the years 1914 to 1932, Wright rebuilt Taliesin, divorced his first wife, married and separated from another woman (partially due to the fact that he spent some time in jail), and met his third wife, Olgivanna Milanoff. His architectural designs during this period included the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, Japan, and many California homes. Few commissions were completed toward the end of this period, but Wright did lectures to various architects and published articles, including An Autobiography in 1932.
Wrights’s output became more organized and individualized, with the help of numerous apprentices who assisted in design detail and site supervision. His most famous work, Fallingwater, was designed in 1936. He also began working on a project called Taliesin West in Arizona. The Taliesin Associated Architects, The Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture, and the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation are living legacies of what Mr.
Wright was founded in 1932. Few buildings were produced during the war years, but the G.I. Bill brought many new apprentices when the war ended. This post-war period to the end of his life was the most productive. He received 270 house commissions and designed and built the price tower skyscraper, the Guggenheim Museum, and the Marin County Civic Center.
Wright never retired; he passed away on April 9, 1959, at the age of 92 in Arizona. He was buried in the Graveyard at Unity Chapel at Taliesin in Wisconsin. In 1985, Olgivanna Wright passed away, and one of her wishes was to have Frank Lloyd Wright’s remains cremated and the ashes placed next to hers at Taliesin West. Despite much controversy, this was done. The epitaph at his Wisconsin gravesite reads, “Love of an idea is the love of God.”