The architecture of American homes underwent a transformation when the Industrial Revolution drew many into urban areas and again when the suburbs sprang up across the nation. With this quick migration came the quick construction of family homes. One architect in particular sought to elevate the standard design of suburban America: Frank Lloyd Wright.
Wright was a prolific architect, responsible for developing homes from coast to coast. To celebrate the 150-year anniversary of Frank Lloyd Wright’s birth, we mapped out 10 of his monumental home designs.
Taliesin is a large architectural campus encompassing Wright’s primary residence as well as buildings from many different decades in his career. He lived here with his mistress, Martha Borthwick. Wright was inspired by Michelozzo’s Villa Medici in Fiesole for its construction into a hillside, which he saw during his European vacation with Martha. The history of Taliesin East is marred by the horrific murder and fire committed by Julian Carlton.
Hollyhock House was Wright’s first project in Los Angeles and also his first attempt at designing a space that fit within the climate of southern California. To take advantage of the temperate environment, each interior space adjoins an equivalent exterior space, creating a combination of house and garden.
Millard House is the first textile block house design by Wright in 1923. He made a series of four buildings in this style, as he sought to widen his repertoire from the Prairie house typecast he became known for. Wright used concrete blocks to experiment and develop a style that would allow ordinary people to build their own homes.
The Ennis House is another example of Wright’s block houses but this home was inspired by Mayan temples. Similar to the Millard House, the Ennis House was also made largely of interlocking concrete blocks. The extensive relief detailing present across much of the exterior is reminiscent of the Mayan building in Uxmal.
Wright designed Taliesin West as a winter retreat. He tested bold, innovative designs and structural concepts by drawing inspiration from the desert that surrounded his property. The Taliesin Fellowship, created by Wright in 1932 to pass his design insights onto apprentices, began migrating between Arizona and Wisconsin, exposing them to a variety of environmental challenges.
Fallingwater, a house designed for the Kaufmann family, sits over a 30-foot waterfall in southwest Pennsylvania. Wright wanted to create a unified and organic composition that blended into the environment from the eco-friendly paint to the shape and size of the house. His innovative designs make the house look as if it floats above the water.
The Honeycomb House is a great example of Wright’s innovative hexagonal design, patterned after the honeycombs of bees. The house has a six-sided figure with 120-degree angles. It is composed of San Jose brick, concrete, and glass, as well as redwood boards. As is common for Wright, the house juts out from a hillside and gently conforms level by level.
Wingspread sits on approximately 12 acres of land bordering Lake Michigan. Four wings protrude from the central hub, a large dome structure lined with windows. Each of the four wings is designed for different parts of the family (adults, children, guest, and staff). Wingspread is the most expensive residential design of Wright’s properties.
Originally built along the Millstone River in New Jersey, the home was constantly under threat from flooding so the Crystal Bridges Museum purchased and relocated the structure to Arkansas where it was reconstructed within the museum grounds. The Bachman-Wilson House is classified as a typical Usonian home, a word Wright used extensively to describe the lack of convention he hoped to see in American architecture.
Kentuck Knob is a quaint, one-story Usonian house meant to be affordable for the average American. Situated atop a hill, the house overlooks a swath of forest and is constructed with native sandstone and Tidewater cypress, making it blend in well with its environment. This house reflects Wright’s organic architecture with an open floor plan and panoramic views that integrate the indoors with the outdoors.