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Frank Lloyd Wright

Frank Lloyd Wright Biography

born 1867 died 1959

Frank Lloyd Wright (June 8, 1867 – April 9, 1959), Master of the Organic Architecture, was one of the most prominent and influential architects of the first half of the 20th century. He not only developed a series of highly individual styles over his extraordinarily long architectural career (spanning the years 1887-1959), he influenced the whole course of American architecture and building. To this day he remains probably America's most famous architect.

As Wright's career progressed, so as well did the mechanization of the glass industry. Wright fully embraced glass in his designs and found that it fit well into his philosophy of organic architecture. Glass allowed for interaction and viewing of the outdoors while still protecting from the elements. In 1928, Wright wrote an essay on glass in which he compared it to the mirrors of nature: lakes, rivers and ponds. One of Wright's earliest uses of glass in his works was to string panes of glass along whole walls in an attempt to create light screens to join together solid walls. By utilizing this large amount of glass, Wright sought to achieve a balance between the lightness and airiness of the glass and the solid, hard walls. Arguably, Wright's most well-known art glass is that of the Prairie style. The simple geometric shapes that yield to very ornate and intricate windows represent some of the most integral ornamentation of his career.

Often, Wright designed not only the buildings, but the furniture as well. Some of the built-in furniture remains, while other restorations have included replacement pieces created using his plans.

Wright responded to the transformation of domestic life that occurred at the turn of the twentieth century, when servants became a less prominent or completely absent feature of most American households, by developing homes with progressively more open plans. This allowed the woman of the house to work in her "workplace", as he often called the kitchen, yet keep track of and be available for the children and/or guests in the dining room. Much of modern architecture, including the early work of Mies van der Rohe, can be traced back to Wright's innovative work.

Select Timeline

  • 1876 - Wright's mother introduces the "Froebel Kindergarten" training to her son
  • 1887 - Wright moves to Chicago
  • 1889 - Wright marries Catherine Lee Tobin
  • 1889 - Designs his own home in Oak Park, IL
  • 1890 - Begins working with Adler and Sullivan
  • 1890 - Designs the Wainwright Building, Chicago, IL
  • 1891 - Designs the Charnley House, Chicago, IL
  • 1893 - Wright opens his own practice in Chicago
  • 1893 - Designs house for Walter Gale, Oak Park, IL
  • 1893 - Designs house and stables for William H. Winslow, River Forest, IL
  • 1893 - Designs Japanese Temple for World's Columbian Exhibition, Chicago, IL
  • 1894 - First exhibition of Wright's work is held at the Chicago Architectural Club
  • 1895 - Designs Francis Apartments for Terre Haute Trust Company, Chicago, IL
  • 1896 - Designs house for Isidore Heller, Chicago, IL
  • 1902 - Designs house for Ward W. Willits, Highland Park, IL
  • 1902 - Designs house for Susan Lawrence Dana, Springfield, IL
  • 1902 - Designs Larkin Company Administration Building, Buffalo, NY
  • 1905 - Designs Unity Temple, Oak Park, IL
  • 1905 - Wright and his wife make their first trip to Japan
  • 1905 - Designs Lawrence Memorial Library, Dana House, Springfield, IL
  • 1907 - The Art Institute of Chicago gives Wright his first solo exhibition
  • 1908 - Designs house for Isabel Roberts, River Forest, IL
  • 1908 - Designs house for Frederick C. Robie, Chicago, IL
  • 1908 - Designs house for Dr. G.C. Stockman, Mason City, IA
  • 1909 - Wright leaves his practice and family for Europe, accompanied by Mamah Borthwick Cheney, the wife of a client
  • 1910 - Wright returns from Fiesole, Italy
  • 1911 - Wright begins building a new home and studio near Spring Green, WI, calling the complex "Taliesin"
  • 1911 - Moves into the complex with Borthwick Cheney and her two children
  • 1912 - Wright opens an office in Chicago
  • 1913 - Designs Midway Gardens, Chicago, IL
  • 1914 - A Taliesin servant kills Mamah Borthwick Cheney, her two children and four workers, after setting fire to Taliesin, which Wright begins rebuilding after one month
  • 1914 - Wright meets Maud Miriam Noel through her writings to him, and she eventually moves into Taliesin
  • 1916 - Wright sails to Japan with Miriam Noel and opens a office in Tokyo
  • 1916 - Wright begins work on the Imperial Hotel
  • 1916 - Begins design of the Hollyhock House for Aline Barnsdall, Los Angeles, CA
  • 1922 - Wright returns to America from Japan and opens an office in Los Angeles
  • 1922 - Frank Lloyd Wright and Catherine Wright are finally divorced
  • 1922 - Wright marries Maud Miriam Noel
  • 1923 - Kanto earthquake demolishes much of Tokyo, yet the Imperial Hotel survives
  • 1923 - Designs Lake Tahoe Resort, Lake Tahoe, CA
  • 1924 - Wright leaves LA for Arizona
  • 1924 - Wright separates from Miriam Noel, who moves back to LA
  • 1924 - Wright meets Olgivanna Lazovich who subsequently moves into Taliesin
  • 1925 - Wright begins divorce proceedings for Miriam Noel Wright
  • 1925 - Second major fire occurs at Taliesin due to faulty wiring and Wright again rebuilds Taliesin
  • 1926 - Wright's divorce proceedings go horribly awry
  • 1926 - Wright and Hinzenberg are arrested near Minneapolis for allegedly violating the Mann Act and spend several nights in Hennepin County jail
  • 1926 - Wright starts work on his autobiography
  • 1927 - Wright and Maud Miriam Noel Wright are divorced
  • 1928 - Wright and apprentices begin construction of a scale model of a section of Broadacre City
  • 1928 - Wright marries Olgivanna Lazovich
  • 1932 - Wright's works An Autobiography and The Disappearing City are published
  • 1934 - The first issue of Taliesin, a magazine founded by Wright, is published by Taliesin Press
  • 1934 - Designs "Fallingwater" House for Edgar J. Kaufmann, Bear Run, PA
  • 1935 - Construction of the Broadacre City model continues at "La Hacienda" in Chandler, AZ
  • 1936 - Designs house for Herbert Jacobs, Madison, WI
  • 1936 - Designs the S.C. Johnson & Son Co. Administration Building (Johnson Wax), Racine, WI
  • 1937 - Wright purchases 800 acres of land in Scottsdale, AZ and design and construction of Taliesin West begins
  • 1939 - Designs house for George Sturges, Brentwood Heights, Los Angeles, CA
  • 1939 - Designs house for Kathrine Winckler and Alma Goetsch, Okemos, MI
  • 1940 - Wright founds the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation
  • 1943 - Wright begins work on the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY
  • 1943 - Designs Solar Hemicycle House for Herbert Jacobs, Middleton, WI
  • 1944 - Designs S.C. Johnson & Son Co. Research Tower (Johnson Wax), Racine, WI
  • 1949 - Wright wins gold medal of the American Institute of Architecture
  • 1949 - Ayn Rand's book The Fountainhead is adapted for the screen, with Gary Cooper starring as Howard Roark, a character based on Wright
  • 1953 - Designs the Price Tower for the H.C. Price Company, Bartlesville, OK
  • 1953 - Designs the Riverview Terrace Restaurant, Spring Green, WI
  • 1953 - Usonian Exhibition House and Pavilion for "Sixty Years of Living Architecture" is on display in New York, NY
  • 1954 - Wright is awarded an honorary doctorate of fine arts by Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut
  • 1954 - Designs Beth Sholom Synagogue, Elkins Park, PA
  • 1956 - Mayor Richard Daley of Chicago declares October 17 "Frank Lloyd Wright Day"
  • 1956 - The Guggenheim Museum has a final plan, New York, NY
  • 1956 - Designs Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, Wauwatosa, WI
  • 1957 - Wright is asked to design a cultural center to include and opera house, two museums, plus a post office and telecommunications building in Baghdad
  • 1959 - Frank Lloyd Wright dies on April 9 in Arizona

Select Exhibitions

  • 1998 - Paper Architecture: Hand vs Machine, Denver Art Museum, Denver, CO
  • 1998 - Bauhaus Weimar and European avant-garde 1919-1925, Czech Museum of Fine Arts - Ceske muzeum vytvarnych umeni v Praze, Prague
  • 1999 - Great Design - 100 Masterpieces from the Vitra Design Museum, Phoenix At Museum, Phoenix, AZ
  • 2001 - The Global Guggenheim - Selections from the Extended Collection, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY
  • 2000 - Cosmos - From Goya to De Chirico from Friedrich to Kiefer, Palazzo Grassi, Venice
  • 2003 - Design Reform: Decorative Arts and the Manifesto 1850-1920, Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, WI
  • 2003 - Light Screens - The Leaded Glass of Frank Lloyd Wright, Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach
  • 2003 - From Picasso to Pollock - Classics of Modern Art, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY
  • 2003 - Visionen und Utopien. Architekturzeichnungen aus dem Museum of Modern Art, NY, Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt/Main
  • 2004 - The Arts and Crafts Movement in Europe and America 1880-1920, Los Angeles County Museum of Art - LACMA, Los Angeles, CA
  • 2004 - Archiskulptur, Foundation Beyeler, Riehen
  • 2004 - Modern Means: Continuity and Change in Art from 1880 to the Present, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo
  • 2004 - Singular Forms (Sometimes Repeated) - Art from 1951 to the Present, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY
  • 2005 - Arts & Crafts Movement in Europe & America: Design for the Modern World, Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, WI
  • 2006 - Frank Lloyd Wright and the House Beautiful, Boise Art Museum BAM, Boise, ID

Select Works

  • William Herman Winslow Residence, River Forest, Illinois, 1894
  • Ward Winfield Willits Residence, and Gardener's Cottage and Stables, Highland Park, Illinois, 1901
  • Dana-Thomas House State Historic Site, Springfield, Illinois, 1902
  • Larkin Administration Building, Buffalo, New York, 1903
  • Darwin D. Martin House, Buffalo, New York, 1903-1905
  • Unity Temple, Oak Park, Illinois, 1904
  • Frederick C. Robie Residence, Chicago, Illinois, 1906
  • Taliesin I, Spring Green, Wisconsin, 1911
  • Midway Gardens, Chicago, Illinois, 1913
  • Imperial Hotel, Tokyo, Japan, 1915. Demolished, 1968; lobby and pool reconstructed in 1976 at Meiji Mura, near Nagoya, Japan
  • Hollyhock House (Aline Barnsdall Residence), Los Angeles, California, 1917
  • Ennis Residence, Los Angeles, California, 1923
  • Kaufmann Residence, Fallingwater, Bear Run, Pennsylvania, 1935
  • Johnson Wax Headquarters, Racine, Wisconsin, 1936
  • Herbert F. Johnson Residence ("Wingspread"), Wind Point, WI, 1937
  • Taliesin West, Scottsdale, Arizona, 1937
  • Frank Lloyd Wright's Florida Southern College Works, 1940s
  • First Unitarian Society, Shorewood Hills, Wisconsin, 1947
  • Herman T. Mossberg Residence, South Bend, Indiana, 1948
  • Thomas Keys Residence, Rochester, Minnesota, 1950
  • Louis Penfield House, Willoughby Hills, Ohio, 1955
  • Price Tower, Bartlesville, Oklahoma, 1956
  • Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, designed in 1956, completed in 1961
  • Marin County Civic Center, San Rafael, CA, 1957–1966 (featured in the movies Gattaca & THX 1138)


  • "I think Ms. (Marilyn) Monroe's architecture is extremely good architecture"
  • "I wouldn't mind seeing opera die. Ever since I was a boy, I regarded opera as a ponderous anarchronism, almost the equivalent of smoking"
  • "Early in life I had to choose between honest arrogance and hypocritical humility. I chose the former and have seen no reason to change"
  • "The mother art is architecture. Without an architecture of our own we have no soul of our own civilization"
  • "No stream rises higher than its source. What ever man might build could never express or reflect more than he was. He could record neither more nor less than he had learned of life when the buildings were built."
  • "Less is only more where more is no good"
  • "Form follows function-that has been misunderstood. Form and function should be one, joined in a spiritual union"
  • "A free America, democratic in the sense that our forefathers intended it to be, means just this: individual freedom for all, rich or poor, or else this system of government we call democracy is only an expedient to enslave man to the machine and make him like it."
  • "Why, I just shake the buildings out of my sleeves"
  • "Tip the world on its side and everything loose will land in Los Angeles"
  • "A doctor can bury his mistakes, but an architect can only advise his clients to plant vines"
  • "No stream rises higher than its source. What ever man might build could never express or reflect more than he was. He could record neither more nor less than he had learned of life when the buildings were built."


  • Frank Lloyd Wright Domestic Architecture and Objects - by Frank Lloyd Wright, Wiley; Postcards edition (June 28, 1995)
  • Frank Lloyd Wright The Houses - by Alan Hess, Kenneth Frampton, Thomas S. Hines, Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer, Alan Weintraub, Rizzoli (November 1, 2005)
  • Frank Lloyd Wright's Interiors - by Thomas A. Heinz, Gramercy (May 7, 2002)
  • Frank Lloyd Wright's Houses - by Thomas A. Heinz, Gramercy (May 7, 2002)
  • Wright-Sized Houses: Frank Lloyd Wright's Solutions for Making Small Houses Feel Big - by Diane Maddex, Harry N. Abrams (November 25, 2003)
  • 50 Favorite Rooms By Frank Lloyd Wright - by Diane Maddex, Harry N. Abrams (March 1, 2001)
  • Frank Lloyd Wright Domestic Architecture and Objects - by Frank Lloyd Wright, Wiley; Postcards edition (June 28, 1995)
  • Frank Lloyd Wright: The Interactive Portfolio - by Margo Stipe, Frank Lloyd Wright, Running Press Book Publishers; Book & CD edition (October 12, 2004)
  • The Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright: A Complete Catalog - by William Allin Storrer, University Of Chicago Press; 3rd edition (April 15, 2002)
  • Frank Lloyd Wright's Prairie Houses (Wright at a Glance Series) - by Carla Lind, Frank Lloyd Wright, Pomegranate Communications (September 1994)
  • Wright Style: Re-Creating the Spirit of Frank Lloyd Wright - by Carla Lind, Simon & Schuster (November 1, 1992)
  • Fallingwater Rising: Frank Lloyd Wright, E. J. Kaufmann, and America's Most Extraordinary House - by Franklin Toker , Knopf (September 30, 2003)
  • Frank Lloyd Wright's Usonian Houses: Designs for Moderate Cost One-Family Homes - by John Sergeant, Watson-Guptill; New Ed edition (March 1, 1984)
  • The Fellowship: The Untold Story of Frank Lloyd Wright and the Taliesin Fellowship - by Roger Friedland, Harold Zellman, Regan Books (August 22, 2006)
  • The Frank Lloyd Wright Companion - by William Allin Storrer, University Of Chicago Press (January 15, 1994)

Quick Facts

  • Wright is considered by most authorities to be the 20th century's greatest architect.
  • designed furniture, fabrics, art glass, lamps, dinnerware, silver, linens and graphic arts. In addition, he was a prolific writer, an educator and a philosopher.
  • Wright built 362 houses. About 300 survive as of 2005
  • Oak Park, Illinois, a Chicago suburb, has the largest collection of Wright houses, as well as Wright's home and studio


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