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Frank Lloyd Wright’s Oak Park

September 22, 2014

Frank Lloyd Wright

Chances are you have visited a Frank Lloyd Structure and not even realized it.  This isn’t surprising considering the Wisconsin born architect was involved in 415 different works spanning the entire globe throughout his 70 year career.

Cutting his teeth in Chicago, many of Wrights early works can be seen throughout the city and surrounding suburbs.  None more than Oak Park, where Wright not only lived, but where he would start his own studio and develop his own, unique style of architecture.  After outgrowing the offices of his windy city mentors, Adler & Sullivan, Wright took his vision and commissions internal, starting his own practice in 1889.  Throughout the western suburb, which lies some 11 miles from downtown Chicago, you’ll find nearly 30 different buildings where Frank Lloyd Wright was the commissioned architect of record – the most remaining of any other city in the world.

Frank Lloyd Wright - copyright The Standard EditionFrank Lloyd Wright Home & Studio

The residential structures found throughout Oak Park are among some of the earliest examples of Wright’s design philosophy that consisted of organic architecture and later his development of prairie style architecture.  It was in his studio, situated at 951 Chicago Ave., Wright would develop and perfect his prairie style which would later become a defining characteristic of his work.  Rather than continuing the popular reinvention of European influence found throughout the United States, Wright sought to create something new, something truly American.  Something that made sense in the American landscape of the time.  And so his famed prairie style of architecture was born.  In a dramatic shift from traditions of the times, this style would evoke elements of the surrounding Midwestern landscape.  Working with, instead of against nature, these homes would consist of long straight lines, interesting angles and heavy masses.

A tour of the neighborhood yields a surreal experience.  The impeccably manicured properties line each street, which is silent and void of crowds.   Many of the homes designed by Wright, others designed to mirror his style.  At every turn his influence is evident, his techniques replicated, repeated and perfected.  As intended, nearly all of the properties are privately owned and lived in, making the experience a personal one.

In total, Wright spent 20 years (1889 – 1909) in Oak Park and would spend these two decades designing approximately 150 structures, nearby and further afield.   Following this tenure, he continued to develop some of the most influential structures of the 20th century and is arguably the most important American architect to have lived.  Later in life, Frank Lloyd Wright would go on to live and work throughout the middle west and western United States.

Frank Lloyd Wright - copyright The Standard Edition

Frank Lloyd Wright - copyright The Standard Edition

Frank Lloyd Wright - copyright The Standard Edition

Frank Lloyd Wright - copyright The Standard Edition

Frank Lloyd Wright - copyright The Standard Edition

Frank Lloyd Wright - copyright The Standard Edition

Frank Lloyd Wright - copyright The Standard Edition

 

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