Frank Lloyd Wright’s architectural work

Subject: Art
Type: Descriptive Essay
Pages: 4
Word count: 947
Topics: Art Comparison, Architecture, Art History, Design
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Frank Lloyd Wright’s architectural work was largely responsible for several styles that he developed in his almost seventy-year career. Wright was among responsible for developing the first American architecture through exemplary works such as the Prairie and Usonia houses which he developed to cater the needs of the society. His works could later influence several generations of architecture via the different style he adopted. This paper will examine the Wright’s architectural works with emphasis on the Fallingwater residence, the Prairie Houses, and the Zimmerman House.

Wright architectural work was founded on organic architecture in which his structures resembled nature. The Fallingwater building is one of the famous organic structures which exuded harmony with the environment, the structure enhancing the environment instead of extruding it. Wright’s philosophy of his structures was to promote simplicity in decoration as well as the necessity in the layouts. Through this philosophy, Wright integrated structures within the landscape as exemplified by Fallingwater residence which was one of the most famous organics buildings that he commissioned. Shockingly pure in its originality and surprisingly beautiful, this work was marked by several cantilevered balconies as well as terraces designed on top of waterfall hence taking the rigid planes that were associated with the International Style through utilizing nature in its construction (Riley and Reed, 1994). The cantilevers were familiar with the artist’s style which he used constructions to defy gravity hence he frequently extended them further from the building support.  The use of cantilevers was additionally associated with technological and innovative styles that Wright frequently utilized and this is clearly depicted in Fallingwater (Kelly, 2014). Wright’s relationship with nature was further depicted tulips at his Oak Park House as well as the sumac Susan Lawrence Dana House. Also, the studio of 1889 to 1898 further revealed the relationship of the artist with natural forms. In this works, the emphasis was the exclusion of naturalistic designs in favor of the high abstract patterns which were more artificial on the surface (Riley and Reed, 1994). Wright decorative motifs were thus geometrical abstractions which did not look like the natural forms they symbolized instead they strived to capture the essence of such forms (Levine, 1996). Similarly, the Graycliff was another masterpiece that represented his philosophy of organic structures. This work was constructed with an aim to add nature as the structure’s ornament (Frank Lloyd Wright, n. d).

Another masterpiece from the artist was the Prairie Houses which were a novel idea in architecture. Residential houses build under what would later become the Prairie style included the famous Hickox plus the Bradley Houses. Also, under the category of the Prairie style was the Thomas House as well as the Willits House.  On the other hand, the Unitary Temple is also a religious construction which was associated with the Prairie style. This work represented the few styles that Wright original used with no importation from Europe (Levine, 1996). Built to accommodate the life of middle-life Americans, the residential houses originated from Wright ideas to solve the land issues of the Americans, particularly in Chicago. This was a major shift from the customary houses in the pattern, space and form. The Prairie Houses was depicted by horizontal masses with lines to depict the Midwestern landscape, further evoking his idea of organic architecture. Prairie houses typical suited the environment through low-pitched hipped roofs with wide-ranging overhanging eaves which improved the horizontal appearance (Riley and Reed, 1994). A common characteristic of the Prairie Houses was their abilities contain the extreme discrepancies of moisture and temperature that usually take place at the tops of most structures. As a result of such characteristic of the roofs, the Unitary Temple often experienced problems from snow and rain, and sometimes from mere moisture from the congregation. Similar Prairie houses that were developed by Wright include the Fredrick House plus the Avery and Queene Coonley House although these architectural masterpieces were constructed in the late period of Prairie (Frank Lloyd Wright, n. d).

Similarly, another architectural work of Wright was the Zimmerman House which was a basis of the Usonian houses. The house belonged to Mr. and Mrs. Zimmerman who were impressed with the earlier works of Wright (Dickey, 2009). The house was constructed with significant influence of Taliesin furnishings which the couple had researched in books by and about Wright. The Zimmerman house was particularly rich as well as warm in the materials utilized with a radiant heating system. Similarly to the Prairie Houses, the Zimmerman house was built for the middle-class customers who had no servants. As such, the house was comprised of cultural symbols such as Japanese art situated in the living room. As a philosophy of Wright, the Zimmerman House lacked a basement as well as attics hence necessitating the need for combining the guest room with library shelves which the Zimmermans placed their research books (Levine, 1996). The Zimmerman House was also characterized with isolated small bedrooms which encouraged the gathering as well as social interaction in the main living room. Additionally, the house had a workplace which comprised of a kitchen for the couple with furnishings which they become art in themselves. This idea of Usonian homes became a foundation of all his future architectural work.

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  1. Dickey, A. (2009). The Currier Museum of Art’s Zimmerman House: A Frank Lloyd Wright Masterpiece in New England. Art Documentation, 28(2), 47-53.
  2. Frank Lloyd Wright. (n. d). In Wikipedia 
  3. Kelly, B. P. (2014). Art. The New Criterion, 47-48.
  4. Levine, N. (1996). The Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright [Review of book Utopia studies]. 238-240.
  5. Riley, T., & Reed, P. (1994). Inconstant Unity: The Passion of Frank Lloyd Wright. Willian Cronon, 7-29.
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