At home with architect Frank Lloyd Wright

There aren’t many architects who can boast having a song written about them, but the legendary American architect Frank Lloyd Wright has been remembered in song by the duo Simon and Garfunkel on their celebrated Bridge Over Troubled Waters album.

Frank Lloyd Wright experimented with forms and materials until he developed a distinctly American form of architecture. The forward-thinking Wright began his career in Oak Park, Illinois, and has been recognised as one of the greatest architects of the twentieth century.  To fully appreciate Wright’s influence on modern architecture you can visit his original home and studio just outside of Chicago, Illinois in the area of Oak Park.

This unusual complex served as Wright’s private residence and studio from 1889-1909. Here he raised his 6 children. He designed 25 buildings in the neighbourhood surrounding the studio.  Wright used his home as an architectural laboratory, experimenting with design concepts that contain the seeds of his architectural philosophy.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s inspiration for an indigenous architecture had its roots in the flat, expansive prairie landscape of the American Midwest where he grew up.  Wright and the draftsmen in his Oak Park studio reacted against the historical revivalism prevalent in American architecture at the time and sought to create a new aesthetic that combined functionality and beauty, and reflected the natural surroundings. They succeeded in redefining American residential architecture.   

Entry to the house is for guided tours only, and there are two distinct tours you can do.  One is of Wright’s house and studio, where you can learn about the man and his work.  The other tour is the Walking Tour of the Frank Lloyd Wright District, and it is on this tour that you can see many of his buildings.  Oak Park is home to the world’s largest collection of Wright-designed buildings.  Join can join an organised group, or do this tour at your own pace.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Home and Studio is now run by the Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust, and throughout the year the Trust conducts many workshops, tours and performances in order to keep alive the work and spirit of one of America’s greatest architects.

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