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our societies have radically changed with industrialization
the old architectural styles feel irrelevant and forced, like
costumes or disguises
for new models, should we turn to nature or to the
how do we get rid of this eclecticism?
what will our modern style be?
• Columns are 9 inches diameter at the bottom, 18 feet in
diameter at the top.
• Not OK with building inspectors.
• Test column needed to hold 12 tons of weight. Wright kept
going until the column crashed under 60 tons of weight.
• Permit was granted.
how would we describe the
Guimard (1902) Wright (1936)
• Born 1867 to farming
• Parents divorced and he
dropped his father's
• Anna Wright wanted him
to be an architect
• purchased Froebel blocks
at Centennial Expo, 1876
Frank Lloyd WRIGHT
• Was admitted to the
University of Wisconsin–
Madison as a special
student in 1886.
• Took part-time classes for
Frank Lloyd WRIGHT
• Hired as a draftsman with the architectural firm of Joseph
• Feeling he was underpaid at Silsbee (at $8 a week), quit and
found work at Beers, Clay, and Dutton.
• Left new job to return to Silsbee—with a raise in salary.
• After less than a year, learned that the Chicago firm of Adler &
Sullivan was looking for someone to make the finish drawings
for the interior of the Auditorium.
Adler & Sullivan
now Roosevelt University
Early work in Oak Park, IL. The Victorian
elements are still visible here.
What are the characteristics of the prairie environment?
• Wright: "the reality of a building is not the container but the space
• low slung, stretching lines
• broad open spaces instead of strictly defined rooms
• careful modulation of relationship between interior and surroundings
•The Larkin Building was designed in 1904 and built in 1906 for
the Larkin Soap Company of Buffalo, New York .
• The five story dark red brick building used pink tinted mortar and
utilized steel frame construction.
•It was noted for many innovations, including air conditioning,
stained glass windows, built-in desk furniture, and suspended
• Sculptor Richard Bock provided ornamentation for the building.
•Demolished in 1950.
red sandstone; the entrance
doors, windows, and skylights glass.
Floors, desktops, and cabinet tops were
covered with magnesite for sound
absorption. For floors, magnesite was mixed
with excelsior and poured, and troweled like
cement, over a layer of felt to impart its
Magnesite was also used for
sculptural decoration on the
piers surrounding the light court
and for panels and beams
around the executive offices at
the south end of the main floor.
Wright designed much of the
The interior walls were made of
cream-colored brick. A 76-foot-
tall (23 m) light court was
located in the center of the
building which provided natural
sunlight to all of the floors.
Unity Temple (1908)
Unitarian Universalist Church
Oak Park, IL
To reduce noise from the
street, Wright eliminated
street level windows in the
temple. Instead, natural
light comes from stained
glass windows in the roof
and clerestories along the
The main floor of the temple is accessed via a lower
floor (which has seating space), and the room also has
two balconies for the seating of the congregation.
These varying seating levels allowed the architect to
design a building to fit the size of the congregation, but
efficiently: no one person in the congregation is more
than 40 feet from the pulpit . Wright also designed the
building with very good acoustics .
“So here I stand before you preaching organic architecture:
declaring organic architecture to be the modern ideal and the
teaching so much needed if we are to see the whole of life,
and to now serve the whole of life, holding no ‘traditions’
essential to the great TRADITION. Nor cherishing any
preconceived form fixing upon us either past, present or
future, but—instead—exalting the simple laws of common
sense—or of super-sense if you prefer—determining form by
way of the nature of materials...”
— Frank Lloyd Wright, An Organic Architecture, 1939
The words. (1953)
NATURE. Why? As in popular use this word is first among
abuses to be corrected.
ORGANIC. Ignorant use or limitation of the word organic.
FORM FOLLOWS FUNCTION. Too many foolish stylistic
constructions are placed upon the slogan.
ROMANCE. A universal change is taking place in the use of
this word, a change to which organic architecture has itself
given rise. No longer sentimental.
TRADITION. Confusion of all eclectics, especially critics,
concerning the word.
The words. (1953)
ORNAMENT. The grace or perdition of architecture; for the
past 500 years “appliqué.”
SPIRIT. Any version or subversion of the word by so-called
international style or by any fashion promoted by experts.
THIRD DIMENSION. Where and why the term was
original. What it now means in architecture.
SPACE. A new element contributed by organic architecture
1. NATURE means not just the “out-of doors,” clouds, trees,
storms, the terrain and animal life, but refers to their nature
as to the nature of materials or the “nature” of a plan, a
sentiment, or a tool. A man or anything concerning him, from
within. Interior nature with capital N. Inherent PRINCIPLE.
2. The word ORGANIC denotes in architecture not merely
what may hang in a butcher shop, get about on two feet or
be cultivated in a field. The word organic refers to entity,
perhaps integral or intrinsic would therefore be a better word
to use. As originally used in architecture, organic means
part-to-whole-as-whole-is-to-part. So entity as integral is
what is really meant by the word organic. INTRINSIC.
3. FORM FOLLOWS FUNCTION. This is a much abused
slogan. Naturally form does so. But on a lower level and
the term is useful only as indicating the platform upon which
architectural form rests. As the skeleton is no finality of
human form any more than grammar is the “form” of poetry,
just so function is to architectural form. Rattling the bones is
not architecture. Less is only more where more is no good.
Form is predicated by function but, so far as poetic
imagination can go with it without destruction, transcends
it. “Form follows function” has become spiritually
insignificant: a stock phrase. Only when we say or write
“form and function are one” is the slogan significant. It is
now the password for sterility. Internationally.
ROMANCE, like the word BEAUTY, refers to a
quality. Reactionary use of this honorable but
sentimentalized term by critics and current writers is
confusing. Organic architecture sees actuality as the
intrinsic romance of human creation or sees essential
romance as actual in creation. So romance is the new
reality. Creativity divines this. No teamwork can conceive
it. A committee can only receive it as a gift from the inspired
individual. In the realm of organic architecture human
imagination must render the harsh language of structure into
becoming humane expressions of form instead of devising
inanimate facades or rattling the bones of
construction. Poetry of form is as necessary to great
architecture as foliage is to the tree, blossoms to the plant or
flesh to the body. Because sentimentality ran away with this
human need and negation is now abusing it is no good
In the realm of organic architecture human imagination must
render the harsh language of structure into becoming
humane expressions of form instead of devising inanimate
facades or rattling the bones of construction. Poetry of form
is as necessary to great architecture as foliage is to the tree,
blossoms to the plant or flesh to the body. Because
sentimentality ran away with this human need and negation
is now abusing it is no good reason for taking the abuse of
the thing for the thing.
Until the mechanization of buildings is in the service of
creative architecture and not creative architecture in the
service of mechanization we will have no great architecture.
5. TRADITION may have many traditions just as TRUTH
may have many truths. When we of organic architecture
speak of truth we speak of generic principle. The genus
“bird “ may fly away as flocks of infinitely differing birds of
almost unimaginable variety: all of them merely
derivative. So in speaking of tradition we use the word as
also a generic term. Flocks of traditions may proceed to fly
from generic tradition into unimaginable many. Perhaps
none have creative capacity because all are only
derivative. Imitations of imitation destroy an original
tradition. TRUTH is a divinity in architecture.
6. ORNAMENT. Integral element of architecture,
ornament is to architecture what efflorescence of a tree or
plant is to its structure. Of the thing, not on it. Emotional in
its nature, ornament is- if well conceived-not only the poetry
but is the character of structure revealed and enhanced. If
not well conceived, architecture is destroyed by ornament.