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Frank Lloyd Wright: A World of Influence

JEFF FICKER, LIZELLE GALAZ, AND KELSEY KEITH | Jun 9, 2017

America’s most celebrated architect has shaped generations of designers, transforming how we live and build. 

Via curbed.com | By Jeff Ficker, Lizelle Galaz, and Kelsey Keith. Illustrations by Casual Astronaut.

There’s a well-known trope—solo architect as godly genius—that architects, a collaborative and hardworking bunch, are still trying to break. The likely root of said cultural myth is none other than Frank Lloyd Wright: a man who died before the internet came to be and yet is still, arguably, the most famous architect who ever lived.

Wright lived for so long, and built so prolifically, that his work touched multiple generations of designers, clients, and the public. Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe—whose International Style Wright rebutted loudly and often—also employed now-familiar ideas like open floorplans and oversized windows. Schindler and Neutra, two Austrian architects who would later help define California modernism, both followed their mentor Frank to the West Coast. Another student, Paolo Soleri, expanded upon Wright’s affinity for Arizona by founding another desert compound there.

Legions of younger architects, at home and abroad, followed in his footsteps, a fact that Wright himself disavowed, writing of the “many little boys who came along helping themselves (gratis) to what had cost a tragic lifetime of superlative effort.” In a similar vein, Wright resisted the very notion of propagating any “style” that might influence later generations. According to Margo Stipe, archivist at the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, “Wright believed architecture achieved ‘style’ as a quality when it grew creatively and organically, each building something new, not a repeat of what had gone before.” In the interest of disclosure, let’s assume Frank Lloyd Wright would have had strong feelings about this attempt to plot his web of influence.

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