Oct 5th 2015

Frank Lloyd Wright and the 20th Century (OOEd)

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Architecture is the crystallization of the spirit of its age, and this description certainly applied to the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright. Wright was a leading architect of the 20th century, pioneering Modern Architecture in response to new materials, changes in society, and a new philosophical worldview. This course addresses Wright’s role in the 20th century and his relevance for our emerging 21st Century.

Frank Lloyd Wright (1867 – 1959). Before Wright, most architecture was based on the past, as we see, for example in Beaux Arts architecture that referred back to ancient Rome. After Wright, architecture, including the work of the leading European Modern Architects, was based on an honest expression of the functions, spaces, materials, and structure of a building.

Wright was born, grew up, and worked in the Midwestern United States, a region that prided itself on being remote from New York, which, Midwesterners felt, was too close to Europe. In the Midwest, architects like Louis Sullivan, for whom Wright worked, and then Wright himself could develop a uniquely American, modern, and democratic architecture. In this course we will come to understand how Wright did just that.

We will begin with a brief overview of Wright’s work, a biographical sketch, and a look at the architecture at the time he began his career. Then we go into some depth on each of the major works of Wright’s career, including his early Prairie Style houses, his California concrete textile houses, Fallingwater, Johnson Wax, and the Guggenheim Museum, and more.

But we are not done. Next we will look at the culture and technologies that defined the 20th century and Wright’s role in their unfolding. And finally we will look at what Wright meant by Organic Architecture, and how it unifies the cultures of the West and the East.