Seventeen Buildings Honored by the American Institute of Architects
“Beautiful buildings are more than scientific… they are true organisms, spiritually conceived; works of art using the best technology.” — FLW
The American Institute of Architects (AIA) designated seventeen American buildings designed by Frank Lloyd Wright to be retained as an example of his architectural contribution to American culture. Click on an image below for information about each building.
1 Frank Lloyd Wright Residence (1889), Oak Park, Illinois
Wright constructed this house for himself and his family while working for the Chicago firm of Adler and Sullivan. Surfaced with wood shingles, it is the oldest extant building attributed wholly to Frank Lloyd Wright.
2 William H. Winslow House (1893), River Forest, Illinois
The Winslow House was Wright’s first independent commission after leaving the offices of Adler & Sullivan. Although the design is related to his work with Adler & Sullivan, some scholars think the Winslow House is his first “mature and original” building.
3 Ward W. Willits House (1901), Highland Park, Illinois
The Willits House was the first house to embody all the classic elements of the Prairie style. Wright believed that the “space within the building was more important than its enclosure,” and, with this house, he “opened the box.”
4 Unity Church (1904), Oak Park, Illinois
Unity Church was the “first significant American architectural statement in poured concrete.” Wright’s use of concrete was truly original, and Unity Church introduced this type of construction on a grand scale.
5 Frederick C. Robie House (1906), Chicago, Illinois
The Robie House is considered Wright’s masterpiece of the Prairie Style. Concealed, cantilevered steel beams create long, uninterrupted spaces that extend through windows onto porches and balconies, making walls disappear.
6 Hollyhock House (1917), Los Angeles, California
The Aline Barnsdall “Hollyhock House”, built about 1920, was named for its ornamental forms. The structure’s monumentality and decorative elements evoke the architecture of the Maya which Wright admired as “mighty, primitive abstractions of man’s nature.”
7 Taliesin III (1925ff), Spring Green, Wisconsin
The residence of Wright and his family and, later, the summer home of the Taliesin Fellowship, Taliesin rests on the brow of a hill overlooking a valley of the Wisconsin River. Taliesin has been described as the architect’s “autobiography in wood and stone.”
In Fallingwater, which was built as a weekend retreat for Edgar J. Kaufmann, we see Wright’s greatest expression of “organic architecture” –the union of the structure and the land upon which it is built. Fallingwater is considered Wright’s masterwork.
9 Honeycomb House (1936), Stanford, California
This Usonian house built for Paul R. Hanna is planned on a hexagonal grid system with most walls meeting at 120-degree angles. Many interior walls are wood and can be easily assembled or disassembled for reconfiguration of living space.
10 S.C. Johnson Administration Building (1936), Racine, Wisconsin
The “great workroom” of the Johnson Building has been called one of Wright’s most “astonishing” spaces. The slender, hollow concrete columns are each capable of supporting six times the weight imposed on them.
11 Taliesin West (1937ff), Scottsdale, Arizona
Taliesin West, the winter home of Frank Lloyd Wright and the Taliesin Fellowship, appears to be part of the surrounding desert and mountain landscape. It is considered his “most dramatic assimilation of a building into a natural environment.”
12 S.C. Johnson Research Tower (1944), Racine, Wisconsin
Utilizing principles of design and construction that he initially conceptualized in the 1920’s, the Research Tower was Wright’s first cantilevered high-rise structure. Together with the earlier Administration Building, it is considered one of his greatest designs.
13 Unitarian Meeting House (1947), Shorewood Hills, Wisconsin
Wright believed that light and a “geometric type of space” allowed a structure “to achieve the sacred quality particular to worship.” The plan and roof of this church are triangular and impart a reverential quality “without recourse to the steeple.”
14 V.C. Morris Gift Shop (1948), San Francisco, California
The fortress-like facade of the rectangular structure that surrounds this retail space protects the contents within, yet invites visitors to enter. The interior’s circular mezzanine, spiral ramp and sensuous surfaces contrast dramatically with the simplicity of the exterior.
15 Price Company Tower (1952), Bartlesville, Oklahoma
With the Price Tower, which rises 221 feet above the Oklahoma prairie, Wright expresses the organic ideal of the tree. A tap-root foundation solidly anchors the building to its site, and cantilevered floors hang like branches from the structural core of reinforced concrete.
16 Beth Sholom Synagogue (1954), Elkins Park, Pennsylvania
The glass walls of this tent-like structure are suspended from a steel tripod frame that allows the sanctuary to soar to a height of 100 feet without internal supports. Wright wanted to create the “kind of building in which people, on entering it, will feel as if they were resting in the hands of God.”
17 Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (1956), New York, New York
Of the museum’s interior Wright said, “We are not building a cellular composition of compartments, but one where all is one great space on a continuous floor… no meeting of the eye with angular or abrupt changes of form…” It has been called one of the great architectural spaces of the 20th century.
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