Frank Lloyd WrightNOTE: Received an A with some corrections. If your professor is one who checks bibliography’s be careful with mine. Art History 5 December 2000Frank Lloyd WrightAmerican architect, Frank Lloyd Wright is considered the pioneer in modern style and one of the greatest figures in twentieth-century architecture (Twombly, 16). According to Frank Lloyd Wright: ??having a good start, not only do I fully intend to be the greatest architect who has yet lived, but fully intend to be the greatest architect who will ever live. Yes, I intend to be the greatest architect of all time.? It appears that from the beginning, Frank Lloyd Wright was destined by fate, or determination, or by his mother’s support, to be one of the most innovative and celebrated architects of the twentieth century. Throughout his life, he designed nearly 900 structures, some 400 of which were actually built. He was principally known for his highly original methods of uniting buildings with their surroundings (Hirsh, 189). Wright was also renowned for initiating new architectural and engineering techniques but was often criticized by the more conventional architects who opposed his new methods (Twombly, 17 – 18). Frank Lincoln Wright (he would later change his middle name to Lloyd) was born on June 8 1867 in Richland Center, Wisconsin, to Anna Lloyd-Jones Wright and William Russell Cary Wright. Anna Lloyd-Jones was a teacher from a large close-knit Welsh family of farmers and ministers. His mother and her family would have a tremendous influence on Frank throughout his life. Frank’s father, William, was a devout Unitarian preacher and musician. The Wright family spent many evenings listening to William read such works as Emerson, Thoreau, and Blake . In 1869 through 1878, the Wright family traveled the country, relocating to Iowa, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts, where William held pastorate positions (Taliesin Preservation). His father moved from job to job dragging the family along which often resulted in financial difficulties. In 1878, the Wright’s eventually returned to the hills of Wisconsin, close to the strong support of Anna’s family. Finally, settling back in Wisconsin, William Wright became secretary of the Wisconsin Conference of Unitarians and Independent Societies (Gill, 57).
Anna relied heavily upon her family to help rear her children. Frank spent numerous hours helping his uncles in the fields, who taught him the importance of hard work. His aunts and his mother intellectually guided him in education, religion, and nature, which played an important part in forming Frank’s architectural philosophy. Using Froebel’s geometric blocks to entertain and educate her son, Anna seems to have struck on the genius and imagination her son possessed. Anna consistently encouraged Frank to achieve great things in the field of Architecture (Gill, 58). In 1885, Frank quit high school and entered the University of Wisconsin at Madison (as a special student). He studied civil engineering because the school did not offer any courses in architecture. No longer working in the fields, Frank worked for the dean of engineering in order to supplement the family income but he was not enthused with his situation and dreamed of going to Chicago (Gill, 74). After two years at the University, Frank left and moved to Chicago.
In Chicago, Frank found a job as a draftsman with the major firm headed by Louis Sullivan (Art Through the Ages, 1058 – 1060). Sullivan had a profound influence on Frank and became his mentor in architecture (Twombly, 153). With the industrial age, came a growing suburban population. The firm of Alder and Sullivan concentrated on downtown commercial buildings, whereas Frank accomplished residential contracts. His work soon expanded and he accepted contracts outside the firm. When Sullivan discovered this in 1893, he felt betrayed, accused Frank of a breach of contract, and demanded that Frank discontinue working outside the firm. Rather than drop his night job, Frank walked out on the firm (Gill, 87-88).
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Frank Lloyd Wright quickly built up a practice in residential design that eventually expanded to include commercial architecture. Through designing a prairie-style home and implementing new techniques and materials, business thrived. He created the philosophy of ?organic architecture,? the central principle of which maintains that the building should develop out of its natural surroundings so that the indoors and