October 05, 2009
Frank Lloyd Wright’s solo career starts in Oak Park, a Chicago suburb where the architect builds his own house in 1887. During the day, Wright worked downtown for Adler & Sullivan, while in the evenings he completed the design of residences in the surrounding lots of his neighbourhood. When the boss found out Wright was undertaking freelance commissions, he was invited to leave the company.
Frank Lloyd Wright founded his own architectural practice in a building adjacent to his home. There, from 1898 onwards, he and his draftsmen developed and perfected his signature Prairie Style architecture, a reaction against the historical revivalism prevalent in American architecture at the time. A total of 25 structures embodying the architect’s ideas were built for the well-to-do families of Oak Park.
His admiration for nature, especially Midwest landscapes, determined his obsession for the horizontal line – the horizontal landscapes of Wisconsin, his birth place- which Wright considered domestic, democratic and freeing. The earth-hugging houses develop thus horizontally not to come off the ground. Moreover, Wright aspired to build not only a house but a full environment, and for this reason he designed the furniture, glazing, tapestries, carpets and all kind of objects.
A stroll through Oak Park lets us witness the evolution of his domestic architecture, ending at the Unity Temple, seat of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation. The building was erected between 1905 and 1908 with reinforced concrete for the structure and façade, whereas the interior decorative arts deployed show Wright’s savoir-faire.
Photos taken by Javier Arpa, available under request.
Frank Lloyd Wright
951 Chicago Avenue
Illinois, USA (1889 to 1913)