Monday, April 30, 2007

Organic Architecture, Frank Wright/Mary Mahony

Organic Architecture was a philosophy created by Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959), an Architect from Chicago.

The main principle was that design and form is determined by the building’s function, environment, and materials used. Mary Mahony (1871-1961 ~ world’s first licensed female architect) and employed by Frank blended nature into Frank’s designs, ensuring him recognition of his works. Her designs and her penmanship gave Mary the reputation of being the greatest delineator of her time and far exceeded the talents of her employer. Women were rarely recognized in the business sector. Mary completed beautiful works that Wright took credit for. The Wasmuth Portfolio, which Frank Wright is famous for contained many of her graphic designs, though her insignia was deleted in publication. This collection of Works of organic architecture was to become the cornerstone foundation for the German Bauhaus movement and the inspiration and major influence for Dutch art movement, De Stijl, of the 1900s.

Organic architecture considered nature and connected it through design offered movement and flow of space within the building. Wright’s ‘Prairie House’ was the first open plan living design, reflecting the quiet level Prairie, was centred around a main fireplace. Low-pitched roofs, broad eaves and paned glass windows invited nature and light into the building. Terraced gardens and the use of stone wood and other natural materials enhanced the flow of continuum. Standardised modular designs were used to reduce waste and lower costs. The Prairie School was founded in Chicago in 1901 for like-minded and aspiring architects.

FC Robie House 1909
Prairie style house

Many innovations and techniques in building design were initiated through Wright’s company’s first office building Buffalo 1904. Air-conditioning, panel heating, all-glass doors, and double glass windows were designed for heating/cooling and lighting efficiency, and the use of steel rod reinforced precast concrete blocks reduced construction time and costs. Non-directional lighting, decorative panelling and stained glass windows and steel furniture were also integrated into their designs.

Organic Architecture set the foundation stone for modernism and is still applied today in design.


The Prairie Style - House Style Picture Dictionary
Photo © Kenneth C. Zirkel /

ORGANIC ARCHITECTURE AND FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT to the Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright

The Art Institute of Chicago: The Collection: Selected WorksThe Art Institute of Chicago: The Collection: Selected WorksThe Collection: Architecture and Design

Environmental design - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Book: The Universal World Reference Encylopedia
Vol. 15 page 5616.

Microsoft Encarta 1996 Encylopedia CD – Arts and Architecture
American History

Jo Everson

1 comment:

stacy said...

hi Jo
your response is to relate to graphic design although what you wrote about FLW