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Frank Lloyd Wright - Creativity and ArchitectureFrank Lloyd Wright - Creativity and Architecture


Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959)


American architect (pictured right).

Famous for his revolutionary ideas like:

  • open plan.
  • the corner window.
  • the car port.
  • the use of steel, reinforced concrete and plate glass.

 Frank Lloyd Wright - Creativity and Architecture

His buildings include...

The Imperial Hotel in Tokyo (sadly demolished in 1968).

The headquarters of Johnson Wax (pictured right), makers of cleaning products like Mr. Muscle.


Why was he so creative?


1. Vision

He followed his dream of the world he wanted to create, represented by his ideal community of Broadacre City, unfortunately never built.

It was to be a network of homes, parks, schools, businesses, pollution free industries, farms and roads.

It wasn’t a modern city, which he attacked as “a parasite of the spirit”. 

Lloyd Wright:

  • hated the idea of caging people in cheap, small boxes.
  • wanted everyone, rich and poor, to be as happy as possible with beautiful houses and enough land for a vegetable garden.
  • believed that education should make people more alive to everything, particularly beauty.


2. Purpose

He believed a great building should do three things:


a) serve mankind (including his customers)

This was his most important aim.

He wanted to appeal to all Americans with a distinctly American style without any European influences.

His Imperial Hotel in Tokyo:

  • successfully combined Eastern and Western designs.
  • was made earthquake-proof.

 Frank Lloyd Wright - Creativity and Architecture

b) belong to the era in which it was built

So his buildings were modern (like New York's Guggenheim Museum, pictured right) .


c) respect for the environment

He saw himself as a child of nature, totally dedicated to preserving its beauty.


3. Revolutionary

He broke with all the architectural traditions of the past including classicism, based on Roman and ancient Greek architecture.

He said that an architect should:

  • be “radical by nature” 
  • have a “cultivated, enriched heart”.
  • “strive continually to simplify”. 

For example, his Prairie style houses were incredibly popular, first built in the early 1900’s.

They:Frank Lloyd Wright - Creativity and Architecture

  • were low level, low cost and open plan homes.
  • had the hearth (the family meeting place) as its focal point.

Pictured right is Robie House in Chicago, the most famous Prairie house 


4. Continuous improvement

He kept on developing new architectural styles.

“What we did yesterday, we won’t do today” was his motto.

Lloyd Wright:

  • was never a slave of old ideas (even if he invented them).
  • constantly sought new and better ones.


5. Order in chaos

He was never entirely satisfied with his work and made constant changes until it was finished.

Once he removed a couple’s wall when they were having a barbecue party!

But he made sure there was order in this continual chaos of change by insisting that all work be directed towards achieving his design objectives.


6. Ambition, self-confidence and determination

In 1930 he said he wanted to be the greatest architect ever.

He was helped in this ambition by his:

 Frank Lloyd Wright - Creativity and Architecture

a) self-belief

(his enormous, often arrogant, belief in his own ability).


b) determinationFrank Lloyd Wright - Creativity and Architecture

He overcame big difficulties:

  • the painful divorce of his parents (pictured right above) and two divorces of his own.
  • a fire at his home (during which his partner, Mamah Borthwick, pictured right, was murdered).
  • money problems in the 1920’s and 30’s.

 Frank Lloyd Wright - Creativity and Architecture

7. Learning

He learned from other great architects, particularly Louis Sullivan, pictured right (1856-1924), for whom he worked in Chicago.

Sullivan taught him to:

  • design buildings that were truly American.
  • apply Sullivan’s motto: “form follows function” (i.e. a building must, first of all, carry out its purpose or function). Frank Lloyd Wright - Creativity and Architecture

But Lloyd Wright didn’t ignore form (i.e. aesthetic needs like style and beauty) unlike other architects such as the Frenchman Le Corbusier, pictured right, (1887-1965), who said that houses were simply “machines for living”.

As a boy Lloyd Wright also learned from

  • working on his uncle’s farm in Wisconsin (learning many practical skills).
  • his mother (his biggest influence, always encouraging and supporting him).
  • his father, a minister (who inspired his feelings of beauty).

For example, in church, Frank experienced the wonder of beautiful music.

 Frank Lloyd Wright - Creativity and Architecture

8. Philosophy and risk taking

All his buildings were based on Lao Tzu’s (pictured right) principle: 

“the reality of the vessel was the void within it”.

In other words, open spaces are just as important as the buildings themselves.

His Welsh grandparents brought from Wales the motto, which also greatly influenced him:

“Truth against the world”.

He stood up for what he believed was beautiful architecture, even if it meant hardship and losing money.

For example, in 1893 he left a secure job with Louis Sullivan and started his own business.


Key quotes on architecture and design

Form and function should be one, joined in a spiritual union.

A building is not just a place to be. It is a way to be.

Space is the breath of art.

The architect must be a prophet...If he can’t see at least ten years ahead, don’t call him an architect.

The physician can bury his mistakes, but the architect can only advise his client to plant vines.


Key quote on creativity

An idea is salvation by imagination.

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