Sights to See - The Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio
The famous architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, has to be one of the greatest architects
in history, if not THE most famous. But it wasn't always so. Early in his career, as with most
artists, Wright struggled for recognition and commercial success. He had success at first, but, for decades afterwards (as a result of
scandals and changing tastes), he was largely ignored by his peers and the public. But genius is
irrepressible. That talent is more than hinted at in Wright's own home
and studio, constructed in 1889 and 1898.
To create this home of his dreams, Wright borrowed $5,000 from his employer and mentor, Louis Sullivan, another great Chicago architect. In short order, he had installed himself and his wife, and before long there were six children to raise.
Wright's career blossomed as he developed his distinctive architectural style and by 1898 he was ready to add a studio.
At the studio, as with the house itself, Frank Lloyd Wright experimented with every
aspect of architecture here. The result: his world renowned Prairie Style. That
style - low roofs, cantilevers and the numerous other unique Wright
design ideas (now commonplace, with their origins unknown to many) -
developed into 125 buildings.
Many of those structures are in Chicago itself. The Robie House, now
used (in part) as offices by the University
of Chicago, is one of the outstanding examples.
Tours are available that allow visitors to experience the beginnings of
the revolution that Wright wrought. The house and studio have undergone
extensive renovation, ending with the site as it existed in 1909 (the
last year Wright lived there). The restoration took 13 years and over
$3 million to complete, but the results are open to the public to enjoy.
Here is the drafting room, near the front of the house on the second
floor, where Wright first conceived many of his groundbreaking ideas.
In 1895 the architect added a two-story polygonal bay on the south
side. Here you'll see the dining room, containing dining table and
chairs that are early examples of a style any Wright fan will recognize.
In the same year another extension was added to the east side of the
house, this containing the children's playroom. The windows and
skylight are excellent examples of Wright's use of outdoor light to
complement and complete the interior design.
On the north face of the home, Wright added the studio annex, completed
in 1898. A rare example of the use of octagonal light frames is one of
the highlights of a visit. Under these lights the master and his
apprentices labored to produce some of the 20th century's most
outstanding works of art in wood, glass and stone.
Though unpopular, both personally and professionally, for much of the middle portion of his life, the personal and early commitment to excellence by Frank Lloyd Wright never faded through storybook adversity. His life and work were both the stuff of legend. Come to Chicago to see where it all began.
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