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Frank Lloyd Wright, 1867 - 1959

portrait of Frank Lloyd Wright
Wright in March 1926

Born: 8 June 1867, Richland Center, Wisconsin
Died: 9 April 1959, Phoenix, Arizona

Born Frank Lincoln Wright, he changed his name to honor his mother's family (Lloyd Jones) after his father left and divorced in 1885. Wright attended high school at Madison, Wisconsin but didn't graduate. He was given special permission to enroll at the University of Wisconsin, pledged Phi Delta Theta, and worked closely with a professor of civil engineering, but left after two semesters. (Almost seventy years later the school granted him a Doctorate of Fine Arts in 1955.) He moved to Chicago, a city still rebuilding from the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, and found work as a draftsman with an architect and worked on several homes. He left to join Adler & Sullivan where he was given significant design responsibility, Louis Sullivan was the only architect Wright ever credited as an influence on his work. Wright consistently lived beyond his means, during the five years with Adler & Sullivan he built nine houses on the side, for which he was eventually fired. the period through the turn of the century was a transition, Wright building homes that were based on his earlier work, but in 1901 he developed the concept known as the Prairie House, homes that blended well with their sites. Perhaps most notable was his own home, Taliesen. In 1909, with six children by his wife Kitty, Wright left for Europe with Mameh Cheney the wife of a client, they spent over a year working on a printed portfolio of his work for a German publisher. In 1914 a servant at Taliesen locked all the doors save one, set fire to the house, and killed seven of the nine occupants with an axe, including Mameh and her two children. Wright spent several years in Japan building the Imperial Hotel at Tokyo, he subsequently was a major dealer in Japanese art in the US. Another fire, this one attributed to wiring in a new phone system, destroyed the second Taliesen in 1925. He spent some time in California building what he called Textile Block houses from large purpose-cast concrete elements and would later design a series of Usonian Houses, intended for middle-class clients. Wright wrote twenty books and numerous articles and was a popular speaker. He underwent surgery to remove an intestinal blockage at Phoenix, Arizona, five days later he suddenly died. The American Institute of Architects named him the "greatest American architect of all time" in 1991. Probably the last plans he finished before his death, originally to be built in Maryland, were executed in Ireland in 2007, his only building in Europe.

Biography from Wikipedia and Prairie Styles

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