Frank Lloyd Wright was a Midwestern boy, born in Richland Center, Wisconsin in 1867. As a youth, he spent his summers on his uncle’s farm, where he learned the value of hard work and developed a deep love of nature. After studying engineering at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Wright left for Chicago. He first worked for architect Joseph Lyman Silsbee and then for the architectural firm of Adler and Sullivan. The Wainwright Building in St. Louis was among Sullivan’s first tall, steel-frame buildings, and Wright was one of the young architects who worked on it with him.
Wright soon began designing houses on his own and, at the age of 22, started his own architectural practice in the prosperous Chicago suburb of Oak Park. He developed a new type of architecture known as the Prairie Style, which reflected the Midwestern terrain through use of flat, horizontal lines and earth-tones. He opened up the traditional box shape of the house and connected it to the land on which it was built. One of the first and finest Prairie Style houses is the Robie House in Chicago.
In addition to the Prairie Style homes Wright built for wealthy clients, he created the Usonian house for American families with modest incomes. To help make the house affordable, Wright eliminated the basement and attic, added a carport instead of a garage, and based the design on a dominant geometric module. The Kraus House in St. Louis is an excellent example of the Usonian Style with its complex design of overlapping parallelograms.
Through a career filled with the highs and lows of fame, Wright designed some of America’s most impressive modern architecture. His work included Fallingwater, a house built over a waterfall in Pennsylvania; the Guggenheim Museum in New York City; and Taliesin, his residence and school in rural Wisconsin.
At his death in 1959, he had designed more than 1,100 structures, of which nearly half have been built. Most were private residences, but his work also included office buildings, houses of worship, schools, bridges, a theater and an automobile show room.