Frank Lloyd Wright turns 150

Frank Lloyd Wright, the influential American architect, interior designer, thinker, and educator, was born 150 years ago today. A leader of the Prairie School movement, Wright was a prolific practitioner of what he called “organic architecture”, which emphasized creating structures in harmony with humanity and its environment. Fallingwater, completed in 1939 in Pennsylvania and stretching over a thirty-foot waterfall, embodied this philosophy perfectly. Now a National Historic Landmark that has seen more than 4.5 million visitors, the house is only one of the more than 1,000 structures Wright designed across the span of a long career, 532 of which saw completion. His creations can be seen across America, from Wisconsin, to Arizona, to New York City, and his uncompleted designs range from a mile high tower he envisioned for Chicago to an opera house in Baghdad:

Frank Lloyd Wright’s plan for the Baghdad Opera House

The Press has published a number of important and lavishly illustrated books on the visionary architect over the years, including Modern Architecture by Wright himself. Recently, Neil Levine authored a followup study to his first landmark book on Wright. The new volume, The Urbanism of Frank Lloyd Wright, overturns the conventional view of Wright as an architect who deplored the city and whose urban vision was limited to a utopian plan for a network of agrarian communities he called Broadacre City. Rather, Levine reveals Wright’s larger, more varied, interesting, and complex urbanism. Will Wiles of Apollo Magazine hails the new volume enthusiastically: “The Urbanism of Frank Lloyd Wright is a companion to Levine’s landmark study The Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright, published in 1997, and it is as monumental as might be inferred from the 20-year wait.”

Just out this spring is Wright on Exhibit, by Kathryn Smith, which offers the first history of Frank Lloyd Wright’s exhibitions of his own work—a practice central to his career. Take a peek.

Drawing extensively from his unpublished correspondence, Smith challenges the preconceived notion of Wright as a self-promoter who displayed his work in search of money, clients, and fame. She shows how he was an artist-architect projecting an avant-garde program, an innovator who expanded the palette of installation design as technology evolved, and a social activist driven to revolutionize society through design. Read more in a recent interview with Smith on the PUP blog.

Happy 150th to a visionary whose legacy continues to influence the way we live, build and innovate.