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Frank Lloyd Wright: The Man

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Frank Lloyd Wright: The Man

Frank Lloyd Wright spent more than 70 years creating designs that revolutionized the art and architecture. Many innovations in today's buildings are products of his imagination.

In all he designed 1141 works - including houses, offices, churches, schools, libraries, bridges, museums and many other building types. Of that total, 532 resulted in completed works, 409 of which still stand.

However, Wright's creative mind was not confined to architecture. He also designed furniture, fabrics, art glass, lamps, dinnerware, silver, linens and graphic arts. In addition, he was a prolific writer, an educator and a philosopher.

He authored twenty books and countless articles, lectured throughout the United States and in Europe, and developed a remarkable plan for decentralizing urban America (Broadacre City) that continues to be debated by scholars and writers to this day -- some 60 years after its conception.

Wright is considered by most authorities to be the 20th century's greatest architect. Indeed, the American Institute of Architects in a recent national survey, recognized Frank Lloyd Wright to be "the greatest American architect of all time." Architectural Record magazine (the official magazine of the American Institute of Architects) declared that Wright's buildings stand out among the most significant architectural works during the last 100 years in the world.

To get a perspective on Wright's long and productive life, it is useful to remember that he was born in 1867, just two years after the end of the Civil War and died in 1959, two years after the launching of the first satellite Sputnik. Wright's Spring Green home, Taliesin, built in 1911, was initially lighted by gas lamps.

A Reverance for Democracy and Nature

Wright revered the American experience and believed that democracy was the best form of government. Throughout his life he strived to create a new architecture that reflected the American democratic experience, an architecture based not on failing European and foreign models (such as Greek, Egyptian and Renaissance styles) but rather an architecture based solely on America's democratic values and human dignity. He often referred to the United States as Usonia. The city plan, Broadacre City, was the culmination of Wright's ideas on a new architecture for a new democracy.

Wright preached the beauty of native materials and insisted that buildings grow naturally from their surroundings. He freed Americans from the Victorian "boxes" of the 19th century and helped create the open plan with rooms that flowed and opened out to each other.

By changing architecture and changing the way America lived, Wright may have had an even more profound effect. As Wright said, "Whether people are fully conscious of this or not, they actually derive countenance and sustenance from the 'atmosphere' of the things they live in or with. They are rooted in them just as a plant is in the soil in which it is planted."

The soil

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