Given his massively influential and prolific work, it’s pretty difficult not to know who Frank Lloyd Wright is. Among the most prominent American architects in history, Wright designed more than 1,000 structures in addition to being an interior designer, writer, and educator.
Wright attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison for just two semesters before deciding to study architecture in the more practical setting of an architectural firm. After leaving school in 1887, he moved to Chicago where he worked as an architectural detailer under J.L. Silsbee, a prominent architect whose masterful sketches are thought to have influenced the sharp lines of Wright designs. From there, Wright went on to work in the architectural firm of Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan before venturing out on his own to start an architectural practice in 1893.
Upon starting his own practice, Wright began honing his unique architectural style, now dubbed Prairie-style architecture. Moving far away from the ornate, European-influenced styles of the era, such as Victorian and Gothic, Wright's designs were expansive, open, and fluid, emphasizing simplicity and fine craftsmanship.
Wright’s style is characterized by harmony with the surrounding landscape and thoughtful efficiency for daily life. The natural materials and simple yet bold horizontal lines that Wright used in his designs were meant to reflect the flat landscape of the Midwest, a style that Wright coined “organic architecture”.
In addition to giving careful thought to the exterior of his homes, Wright was extremely mindful about the interior, paying close attention to the layout and often designing custom furniture to enhance his designs with functional cohesion. He believed that the home’s layout should be open and flexible, maximizing daily efficiency and fluidity without sacrificing thoughtful style.
The following homes are just a few highlights from Frank Lloyd Wright’s prolific career.
Designed for William Palmer, a former professor of economics at the University of Michigan, the Palmer House is a stunning example of Wright’s distinct style. The home’s exterior blends beautifully with the surrounding landscape, while the interior features custom furniture designed by Wright that appears as if the house grew it itself. But perhaps the best part is that you can stay in this stunner yourself—it rents for $375 per night and is worth every penny.
Speaking of blending in with the surrounding landscape, the appropriately-named Fallingwater residence does that flawlessly. Nestled atop a waterfall in western Pennsylvania, the home is among the most famous of Wright’s designs. It's largely comprised of concrete and limestone and designed in such an organic way that it’s almost difficult to tell where the water stops and the house begins.
Darwin D. Martin House
Considered by many to be among Wright’s best works, the Darwin D. Martin House is actually a part of a complex of buildings that Martin commissioned Wright to design. Martin is believed to have given Wright an unlimited budget to create the magnificent complex, which features a main house and adjacent buildings, all of which showcase art glass, furniture, and landscaping designed by Wright.
The Crimson Beech
One of Wright’s design missions was to create thoughtfully-designed, affordable housing for the masses, which is exemplified in The Crimson Beech. Original owners, Catherine and William Cass, bought the home as a prefabrication kit from Marshall Erdman. Erdman collaborated with Wright to create the prefab kit and the home is one of 11 of these models ever built.
Wright designed Taliesin for himself, building it on the land from his childhood in Wisconsin and it became his primary studio and summer retreat. The home features locally-sourced yellow limestone and is where Wright designed some of his most famous works, such as the aforementioned Fallingwater. However, due to tragedy, the most famous aspect of the home isn’t its design--a disgruntled employee of Wright's ended up murdering one of his mistresses and six others on the property and it later burned down. However, it's since been restored.