Crafting Your Experience

CAC Open House

Frank Lloyd Wright: Portrait of a Young Architect

There are several ways to interpret a Frank Lloyd Wright house. We might look at the natural topography of the site to understand how Wright envisioned his buildings as a continuous part of the landscape. Alternately, we might consider how a client who commissioned and paid for a Wright-designed house might have shaped the architect’s designs based on his or her own living requirements. We could also examine the evolving palette of building materials Wright used as his technique evolved. Still another approach is to interpret a Wright house biographically: What was happening in the architect’s life that will allow us a better understanding of his work from that period? If we begin with his very earliest residential commissions, that story begins in Oak Park. This curated walk along Chicago and Forest Avenues highlights just seven of Wright’s earliest houses, though the neighborhood boasts over two dozen buildings that he either designed or remodeled. This small subset highlights how the architect’s work evolved over the first 20 years of his career, from his tenure as a 21-year-old draftsman employed by Louis Sullivan to his emergence as an established self-employed architect—one whose career would span another half century and result in some of the world’s most influential buildings. As this is a residential neighborhood, please be respectful of people’s property and keep to the public right-of-way.

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