Segments in this Video

Wright's Bias Against Late-1800 American Style Houses (04:20)


Born in Wisconsin, Frank Lloyd Wright's early life in the rural Midwest put nature in the center of his vision as he created an American architecture. In his essay "The Cardboard House," Wright criticizes the popular Victorian and Queen Anne styles.

Wright's New Sense of Simplicity (02:36)

Wright converted the Victorian style by omitting the attic and basement, using only one massive fireplace, creating gently sloping or flat roofs, using the human being as his scale, and adding a continuous window series on the second floor.

Two Architectural Influences on Wright (04:03)

In 1887, Wright moved to Chicago to work with famed shingle-style architect, Joseph Silsbee. Influenced by Silsbee and Louis Sullivan's organic architecture that worked closely with nature, Wright built his family home in Oak Park.

Organic Architecture (02:49)

Although both Sullivan and Wright turned to nature in their organic architecture, Wright preferred to translate nature in more geometric and abstract forms. Henry Hobson Richardson's roof styles also influenced Wright's work.

Creating a Unique American Architecture (02:18)

In 1893, Wright had a falling out with Sullivan but continued using his organic principles. He designed and reworked homes, using simplistic exteriors and horizontal lines to create a sheltering effect. He preferred natural materials like brick and wood.

Roots of the Prairie School (05:06)

Wright's Winslow home marked a shift from historical styles, but the Prairie School actually began when Dwight Perkins brought together advocates of a new architectural movement in 1893. In 1898, Wright built his studio adjacent to his home to be closer to his family.

Introducing Prairie Home Designs to the Public (01:29)

Wright's series of articles in the 1901 "Ladies' Home Journal" introduced the public to his Prairie home designs, including the one used for the Bradley House in Kankakee. Wright and his associates created a new vocabulary for residential designs.

Wright's Ward W. Willits House (04:37)

Wright's designs appealed to the emerging class of businessmen and engineers of the early 1900s. Wright had complete freedom with the Willits House, including the entire interior. Wright, like Japanese architects, used wood in his designs.

Wright's Symphony of Form (05:31)

Treated as a design laboratory, the Susan Lawrence Dana House allowed Wright to indulge his architectural desires while maintaining the building's integrity. Dana relished the idea of being in the forefront of design in Springfield, Illinois.

Characteristics of Wright's Prairie Homes (05:27)

Wright constantly explored different ideas, but each Prairie House had identifiable features such as horizontal orientations, overhanging roofs, spacious porches, and an open floor plan. His colleagues, including William Drummond, emulated his work.

The Prairie School (03:32)

Prairie School refers to a group of architects who had been Wright's apprentices as well as some who worked for Sullivan or merely emulated the work, including Walter Griffin, William Drummond, and Marion Mahoney, the first licensed woman architect.

Wright's Influence on Other Architects (04:01)

Architects outside the Prairie School, such as George Maher, Louis Guenzel, John Van Bergen, and Spencer and Power, created their own variations of Wright's designs. Sullivan used the Prairie style in his department stores and small town banks.

Unity Temple in Oak Park (03:19)

Wright used his earlier design of a fireproof house with reinforced concrete to create Unity Temple. Between using inexpensive materials and his persuasive techniques, Wright was able to keep to his fundamental principle: form must fit the function.

Prairie School's Influence (02:41)

Wright's Frederick C. Robie House in Chicago marks the epitome of the Prairie School. Ernst Wasmuth, a German publisher, assembled a portfolio of the school's designs that became a manual for the modernist architectural movement throughout the world.

Taliesin: Marking the End of the Prairie School (03:14)

In 1909, a weary Wright traveled Europe for two years with Mamie Cheney, the wife of a former client. The scandal forced him to seek seclusion in Wisconsin where he built the last "official" Prairie School home, his own residence, Taliesin.

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Frank Lloyd Wright and the Prairie School

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Rectangular. Two stories. Hipped or gabled roofs, with overhanging eaves. This program examines the origins of the Prairie School style as exemplified by the buildings of Frank Lloyd Wright and his associates. The story of the style—inspired by the Arts and Crafts Movement, Louis Sullivan, and the Midwest—is elaborated upon by art historians and architects and through the words of Wright himself, as played by noted actor Richard Henzel. Video clips and archival photos illustrate the style, while a graphical deconstruction of a Victorian house details the contrast between that style and Wright’s vision of the new American home. (57 minutes)

Length: 58 minutes

Item#: BVL10013

ISBN: 978-1-4213-1732-8

Copyright date: ©1999

Closed Captioned

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Recommended by MC Journal: The Journal of Academic Media Librarianship.

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Only available in USA and Canada.