Visited Frank Lloyd Wright's Home And Studio

"The mother art is architecture. Without an architecture of our own we have no soul of our own civilization."
Frank Lloyd Wright

When I was younger, one of the things I was really interested in was architecture. I used to mess around on a drafting table my parents got me and stare at pictures of really cool building designs in books. This is when I became interested in the work of Frank Lloyd Wright.

One thing I had been really looking forward to when we were headed to Chicago was going to Wright's Home and Studio in Oak Park, a few miles west of the city.

Tours of the house he designed and lived in are offered daily, and a certain number of tours allow photography, which was an option not offered before ($20). We did take the tour with photos, but I had to sign a paper that says I can't publish them in a book or online. If you're interested in seeing some of my pictures, let me know, and I'll see what I can do.

Wright borrowed $2000 from his boss to build this house, and while it did not follow the
Prairie School type architecture he pioneered, there were definitely elements in the house that were experiments which helped develop his design philosophies.

Wright was a huge fan of Japanese art and tea gardens. He really loved the way the gardens guide and affect movement as a person experiences them. He believed living spaces could do the same, so he liked to make spaces that would take people on a "path of discovery". (Incidentally, Wright was also a Japanese print art dealer and often made more money selling prints than he did as an architect.)

Our tour guide Michael showed us into the house, where we saw the living room first. Even from the beginning, it was easy to see that the house was designed in a way where it was not just big open spaces but sections that you're meant to see at one time.

We went through the children's bedrooms and the master bedroom, both of which were restored to 1909 condition. Even though the outside of the house exhibits a shingle style, the inside has a lot of unique elements like the window designs, which were very much his style.

The most gorgeous room in the house was the children's playroom, which had a very large space with wonderful cabinets. During the holiday season, they put a huge Christmas tree in it.

After we exited the house, we entered Wright's studio, which was very impressive. One of the rooms had all the drafting tables where architects used to work. There was a main reception area with some incredibly fine stained glass work on the ceiling, and easily one of the coolest things I've ever seen was his office that utilized its octagonal shape to ingeniously rotate multi-level elements.

His logo was a square with a circle and a cross in the center of it. This one was etched into his plaque at the entrance of the studio.

Around the property, there were these planters that had a trademark Wright design. They are a three dimensional representation of the logo.

I really enjoyed this tour, and it really helped me understand the design process that someone like Frank Lloyd Wright went through in creating what many consider the first truly original American architecture style. In 1991, the American Institute of Architects recognized him as "the greatest American architect of all time". While his most famous work,
Fallingwater, was not made for another 25 years after he moved out of Oak Park, the groundwork for this and so many other structures he would create was established inside the wonderful house and studio we toured today.

Related Items:
Frank Lloyd Wright: The Houses
The Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright: A Complete Catalog
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