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Frank Lloyd Wright

(1867—1959) American architect

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US architect of outstanding originality, whose important buildings are in America. He designed nothing in Europe.

Born in Richland Center, Wisconsin, Wright studied architecture in Chicago under Louis H. Sullivan (1856–1924), one of the first architects to build skyscrapers and a master whom Wright continued to admire throughout his long career. Wright's first independent buildings were his long low ‘prairie’ houses, constructed in the Chicago suburbs. At about this time he also designed and built his first office block, the highly original Larkin office building in Buffalo, New York (1903), and his first church, the Unity Temple of Oak Park, Illinois (1904), in which he used reinforced concrete for the first time. During and after World War I the size of his buildings expanded with his reputation; the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo (1916–20), no longer standing, was an example of his work in this period. Condemning the advancing congestion of cities, Wright began his advocacy of a dispersed way of life, aimed at bringing people closer to nature. These naive ideas encouraged him to found a community of young architects on his own estate at Taliesin East, Wisconsin, with its winter annex, Taliesin West, in the Arizona desert. Here Wright held court with his disciples. Recognition as an architect of international status, however, was slow to emerge. In Racine, Wisconsin, he built the fine Johnson Wax office block (1936) and laboratory tower (1949); in New York City, he produced the Guggenheim Museum (1956), an entirely novel design based on a spiral ramp (not then as familiar a feature of urban carparks as it is now); and in San Raphael, California, he designed the highly original Marin Civic Center.

Frank Lloyd Wright also wrote some twenty books, including An American Architecture (1955) and An Autobiography (1932; revised 1943 and 1962).

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