His works have paved the way to the designs and structures of the civil engineers and architects that we have today in the twenty-first century. Frank Lloyd Wright was born in June 8, 1869 in Richland Center, Wisconsin. He was the eldest of the three children of William and Anna Wright. Frank Lloyd Wright’s mother was from Wales and immigrated with her family. Her father and brothers ended up being skilled carpenters in the Wisconsin River Valley and built their own houses. His father, William Wright was a Baptist minister.
At three years of age, Wright and his family moved to Massachusetts for his father to work as a minister. Around 1880, they moved to Madison, Wisconsin. His father then opens a music conservatory, while Wright went to school and worked at his uncle’s farm in Spring Green in the summers. He was attending Madison High School, and in 1885, his parents divorced.
In the same year, Wright leaves Madison High School at age 18, and without graduating. He went and had employment as a draftsman’s apprentice in Madison, Wisconsin. The following year, while he was still working, Wright took civil engineering courses in the University of Wisconsin. Then in 1887, Wright leaves Madison and goes to Chicago, Illinois, and obtained a job as a draftsman with an architect named Joseph Silsbee. During the late 1880s in Chicago, Wright was experiencing a surge in architecture all around the city. Architects from all around the world went to Chicago to help rebuild the city after it experienced a tragic fire.
After learning the basics of architecture from Silsbee, Wright landed himself a job with the Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan firm, which was one of the progressive firms in the country at the time. Wright grew quite a friendship with Sullivan, and learned many things from him. Since the Adler and Sullivan firm was both an engineering and architectural firm, Wright was taught the ideology of “form follows function”, which helped him know that a building design’s functionality matter more than how it looks. By time he was around his early 20s, he has already worked on most of the best buildings in Chicago such as the Auditorium Building, which is now the Roosevelt University. In 1889, Wright married Catherine Lee Clark Tobin, in which they met at a social held at his uncle’s church. He and Catherine had six children, in which two became architectural engineers.
To help support for his wife and family, Wright took on extra work designing houses. Wright took some designs from his firm and added some ideas into them, which eventually ended his relationship with Sullivan and the firm. In 1893, Wright created his own architectural firm. In 1909, Wright abandoned his wife of 20 years as well as his children, and ran off to Europe with Mamah Borthwick Cheney, who was a wife of a formal client. The two stayed away from the United States for around a year, and returned to Spring Green, Wisconsin in 1911. There, he built the well-known residence Taliesin.
Unfortunately, in 1914, a servant at the Taliesin residence set the house on fire, murdering Mamah, her two children and four others. The house was left in complete ruins. Wright rebuilt Taliesin and later traveled to Tokyo. He went to Tokyo as he was commissioned to build the Imperial Hotel.
He created this hotel with much thought on protecting it from an earthquake and a fire. He created a pool in the front of the hotel as a source of water when a fire occurs. He placed soft soil under the foundation to provide as a cushion to when an earthquake strikes. These well thought-out parts in the structure and engineering of the Imperial Hotel helped it to survive the earthquake of 1823.
It, however, did not survive the wrecking ball as it was demolished in 1968. In 1992, Wright married a sculptress named Miriam Noel. In 1925, the Taliesin burned down again. At the same time, Wright’s career was already starting to suffer due to the continual scandals that occur in his personal life.
Throughout his career, he faced bad publicity, lawsuits, and bankruptcy, which depleted his finances, as well as his emotions. In 1928, he married for his fourth wife, a Montenegrin aristocrat, Olgivanna Milanoff. She was once a student of G. I. Gurdjieff, a Russian-born esoteric thinker and mystic.
He was married to Milanoff for the rest of his life. Wright then started to teach and do lectures. In 1931, Wright created the Taliesin Fellowship, in which he turned his residence into a workshop where apprentices can pay to work with him on his commissions as well as learn from him. Although Wright continually created design and were built at a steady pace for about more than two decades, he won’t get fame or more recognition for his works until the 1950s, in his 80s. It was because of how he was at old age and yet he still has good energy, and a passion for ways of unique design in buildings.
Wright also wrote many books on architecture. In the 1950s he was recognized for his daring designs. The unique styling of his works that were once hated upon were what made him popular once again. Wright’s last work was to build the Guggenheim Museum, which was a place for Solomon R. Guggenheim’s art collections.
However, Frank Lloyd Wright died on April 9, 1959, just six months before the museum’s opening. Through the span of his career, Frank Lloyd Wright has created many important landmarks that affected architecture and engineering. One unique thing about him was that he actually did some engineering in his works, which isn’t usually seen in an architect, but due to “form follows function” ideology that he has learned, he has took quite an effect in the engineering on his works. He has affected the art of architecture in many ways for his unique and radical designs, but these designs that were considered radical at the time are what we see these days as he has affected modern architecture greatly. He also has affected engineering, as he has proved that with radical designs and forms, there can still be functionality in them.
He has also brought unique ways that can help a building from many dangers and situations. His designing of the Imperial Hotel, in my opinion, has helped influence civil engineers all over the world of how a building can survive an earthquake. Also, his unique use of geometric patterns in his works such as the Fallingwater residence in Pennsylvania, and the use of cantilevers and a waterfall in the residence have influenced many engineers and architects all around. All in all, it is clear that he has earned himself a place in history as a genius in architecture and engineering.