3.6 Prairie School

Please Read – pp. 67-76

Goessel, Peter, and Gabriele Leuthäuser. Architecture in the Twentieth Century. Koln, Germany: Benedikt Taschen, 1991. Print. https://archive.org/details/architectureintw0000goss/mode/2up 

American Modernism and Frank Lloyd Wright (https://boisestate.pressbooks.pub/arthistory/chapter/modern-architecture/)

Square levels of a building on a mountainside above a man-made waterfall surrounded by trees
Frank Lloyd Wright, Fallingwater (Kaufmann House), Mill Run, Pennsylvania, 1937. Photo by Somach, May 30, 2010, CC BY_SH 3.0
Frank Lloyd Wright is possibly the most significant architect of the first half of Amerca’s twentieth century. He was a prolific designer and had some 532 of his more than 1000 designs actually built. A student of Louis Sullivan, Wright would develop his own theories about what architecture should be – mainly that it should harmonize with human beings and with the landscape in which it was set. He called this organic architecture. While his forms were geometric like Corbusier’s, his materials were often taken from the area in which the building was itself sited and always with the idea of nature in mind. He also established a school at his estate called Taliesin in Wisconsin, and later at Taliesin West in Scottsdale, Arizona. Wright had a number of influences in his work including something of Sullivan, Japanese architecture, the English Arts and Crafts movement. However, nature was his greatest inspiration and his Prairie Houses, long low structures with cantilevered overhangs were meant to relate to the Midwestern landscape that inspired them.

One of his most famous houses, Fallingwater, at Mill Run in Pennsylvania was, like Corbusier’s Villa Savoye, a summer retreat for a wealthy merchant, Philadelphia department store mogul Edgar Kaufmann, Sr. and his family. The unexpected thing about Fallingwater was Wright’s genius in its siting. The conventional choice would have been to put the house on the other side of the water looking back toward the waterfall. Wright chose to locate it over the fall itself with open access to the water from the house and views of the water and nature beyond. Local materials were used in the construction along with Wright’s reinforced concrete cantilevered patios making nature an integral part of the design.

Sign in to your library and Choose one of the two different films detailing the history of Wright’s career in design.

“Frank Lloyd Wright: A Film by Ken Burns & Lynn Novick – Part 1.” , directed by Lynn Novick, and Ken Burns. , produced by Peter Miller, Lynn Novick, and Ken Burns. , Public Broadcasting Service, 2010. Alexander Street, https://video.alexanderstreet.com/watch/frank-lloyd-wright-a-film-by-ken-burns-lynn-novick-part-1.

“The Last Wright: Frank Lloyd Wright and the Rebirth of an American City.” , directed by Lucille Carra. , Filmmakers Library, 2009. Alexander Street, https://video.alexanderstreet.com/watch/the-last-wright-frank-lloyd-wright-and-the-rebirth-of-an-american-city.



Introduction To Art by Muffet Jones is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.



Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

Origins of Contemporary Art, Design, and Interiors Copyright © by Jennifer Lorraine Fraser is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book