architectural-features-of-frank-lloyd-wright-prairie-style-houses

Architectural Features of Frank Lloyd Wright Prairie-style Houses


As a lover of organic architecture, Frank Lloyd Wright aimed to incorporate the building he designed into the existing environment. Wright's Prairie homes were built mainly in the Midwestern states where the landscape is flat. His architectural designs melded into the landscape or the prairie where the final product, the house, would be built. According to Wright on the Web, Wright said, "The good building is not one that hurts the landscape, but one which makes the landscape more beautiful than before the building was built."


Organic Architecture of the Prairie-style House

Wright designed the exterior of the Prairie-style house to have low horizontal lines that melded to the terrain surrounding the structure.Though some of Wright's Prairie-style homes had a peaked roof as evidenced from photographs of his Prairie-style homes, the majority had a flat roof. A common feature was a central chimney in the house and an open-concept layout. A goal of Wright's was to provide a seamless interaction between the outside and inside.

Architecture Interior Design Prairie-style Houses

Wright was famous for designing not only the exterior components of a home but the interior as well, to a greater extent than many architects. As noted by the All-Wright Site, the open concept design that is featured in many homes today can be directly attributed to Wright's open designs in his Prairie and later Usonian styles. Usonian design is a stripped down version of the Prairie style with no attic, basement, or much of the ornamentation that Wright was famous for.

In addition to designing the interior rooms to flow and incorporate with the outside as seamlessly as possible, Wright often designed the windows and doors, incorporating art glass in the design, and furniture for the homes. He would select a specific design for the stained glass or art glass for each house and carry that theme throughout the interior design. He also choose the fabric for drapes and furniture as well as the carpet and designed accessories for the house.

Frank Lloyd Wright's Prairie-style Houses

Wright designed more than 420 buildings in his lifetime, many in the Prairie style. Wright on the Web and All-Wright Site showcase the following Prairie-style homes along with their distinctions of note:

W.W. Willits house, Highland Park, Illinois, built in 1902: This was the first Frank Lloyd Wright house built in the "true" Prairie style. It was designated by the American Institute of Architects as one of seventeen of Wright's designs as an example of his American architectural contribution.

Dana-Thomas House, Springfield, Illinois, built in 1904: Thought to be the best preserved and restored of Wright's Prairie-style houses, the Dana-Thomas House retains more than 100 original pieces of furniture designed by Wright, 250 examples of art glass windows and doors most with the native Illinois sumac design he selected for the house, an ornate frieze, musicians' balconies, a terra cotta fountain, and a duck pin bowling alley. The Dana-Thomas House is a house museum administered by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency (IHPA) and the Dana-Thomas House Foundation.

Robie House, Chicago, Illinois, built in 1909: Believed to be Wright's best representation of the Prairie-style house, the house he designed for Frederick C. Robie is also seen as a great example of modernism in architecture. Wright designed low ceilings and the Robie House is an example of this design element.

Organic Architecture That Has Stood the Test of Time

Wright's Prairie-style house has remained a winning design. Many of the homes Frank Lloyd Wright designed are now museums and tourist destinations that students and lovers of architecture alike are drawn to for the simple lines and beautiful use of detail. Incorporating the landscape into the home's design creates a home that is livable and beautiful.