Frank Lloyd Wright is recognized worldwide for the concepts he pioneered in design, which have become ingrained in many American buildings today. Eight of his buildings were recently recognized as World Heritage sites.
Here, the CSI Connect Community discuss their favorite Frank Lloyd Wright buildings, and his continuing impact.
Fallingwater...need I say more? Followed by Taliesin West, since I teach there.
Ronald Geren, FCSI Lifetime Member, CCS, CCCA, AIA, CSC, SCIP
I'm glad someone said Taliesin West. It’s the only one I’ve visited in person and a working facility, so it's my favorite. (The main trouble with famous residential architecture is that if it's still functioning as intended, someone lives in it!). Taliesin West is pretty spare and lacks quite a few luxury appointments we would consider essential in Phoenix today, but it was pretty innovative for the 1930s.
Kristin Bare CSI, CDT
Marin County Civic Center. I was a paralegal in the San Francisco Bay Area and would see several FLW buildings, but this one I walked through on a regular basis. From the color to the spaciousness, I felt privileged to be able to work in this building.
Marisa Gunn BA, CSI-EP
Wright’s Home and Studio in Oak Park, since I had written my honors thesis in college on his residential work In Oak Park. His home embodied all of his future visions - he tried designs out here to use elsewhere, all while keeping it warm and inviting. Also, perhaps because it was the first of his works that I toured, it has had the most impact.
Donnamarie McGaw CSI, CCS, CDT, AIA
As others have said, Fallingwater, of course. But since I have the opportunity to be doing some work for the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, and have really dug into the history of the project, I am finding it extremely fascinating. The forms and details are so different from most of his other work, but incredibly ingenious.
Steven Groth CSI, CCS, CDT, AIA
My personal favorite is Kentuck Knob. It showcases many of the ideas he explored again and again in his works. It is fairly close to Fallingwater. You can visit both in the same day/weekend and should, as it is great to compare what he had done at Fallingwater with the relative simplicity of Kentuck Knob.
Another FLW Usonian House is the Pope-Leighey house. It is in Alexandria, Virginia! So if you are attending Construct (or SCIP) and can book a tour time...it is well worth the Uber ride and cost of admission.
Consider the Seth Peterson Cottage on Mirror Lake, Wisconsin, roughly 800 square feet, designed for a young man of limited means, to be his first house; but at each turn, each detail a new treasure to be found. It was also the first Wright residence open for rental (by the foundation’s claim). Check out their website and make a reservation.
J. Gerard Capell FCSI, CCS, CDT, AIA, SCIP
As a graduate student at the University of Washington, I took a history course titled “The Chicago School of Architecture.” Der Herr Professor Doktor Hermann G. Pundt was an expert in the topic, but allowed the student presentations to take a strong veer off to the Wright.
A fellow student was from West Africa, and his presentation was about Fallingwater. As he was describing the features, he said, “In my country we have forest gods and river gods. This stair is an invitation for the river god to come into the house.” There was about a minute of silence after he shared that understanding.
Joel Niemi CSI
I'm going to have to say the Larkin Building in Buffalo (Demolished circa 1950) is my favorite, for several reasons:
- The building’s form floats my boat. Most early high-rise buildings were decorated boxes, even though the decoration of the facades, in general, expressed the internal structure of the building. The massing of Wright's building expressed both the structural and ventilation systems and its, sculptural quality when viewed from a distance gave, it a unique street presence.
- Henry Wiss, AIA, my history of architecture professor, credited the Larkin Building as being the first office building with central air.
- The building espoused many features promoted by the USGBC. Among these, access to natural light and mechanically introduced fresh air. Additionally, the building’s atrium acted as a chimney to draw hot, stale air out of the building.
- The workspaces promoted productivity because of proximity to the atrium and exterior walls.
The building was ahead of its time both aesthetically and technically, and should never have been taken from us. For the record, I enjoy all of Wright’s work, in spite of the leaks.
Raymond Gaines FCSI, CCS, CDT, AIA