One of architecture’s most polarising figures, Frank Lloyd Wright is widely regarded as one of the greatest architects of our time. Over a career spanning several decades, Wright created a number of structures that remain crown jewels of American modernist architecture.
Wright’s life and times is one of great interest for many, not just those merely interested in his structures. A man who certainly lived a decorated life, Frank Lloyd Wright’s time as an architectural visionary was accompanied by a life with a great deal of twists and turns. Here are seven facts about the great architect that you might not have known until now.
1. Wright was completely against the American Institute of Architects
Despite the organisation awarding him a gold medal in 1949, Frank Lloyd Wright flat out refused to join the architectural body. His thorough dislike of other architects is thought to be his reason.
2. The architect tried his hand at fashion design
David Hanks, author of Frank Lloyd Wright: Preserving an Architectural Heritage, claims Wright designed dresses for his third wife Olgivanna and other female clients. Unfortunately though, none of the dresses have been documented or publicised.
3. The master and the apprentice
Austrian-American architect Richard Neutra once worked at Wright’s practice initially after moving to America in 1923. Neutra eventually moved on, rising to fame after designing Novell House in 1929.
4. Wright was arrested?!
Yep. The year was 1926, when you couldn’t transport women across state lines for prostitution or debauchery, or for any other immoral purpose. Officially titled the Mann Act, Frank Lloyd Wright was arrested for violating the act after heading to Taliesin in 1926 with his soon-to-be second wife Olgivanna Lazovich Hinzenburg, whom he had met at a Russian ballet in Chicago. The charges were soon dropped, and the couple wed in 1928.
5. He had a vision for what would’ve been the world’s tallest building that never came to fruition
Dubbed the Mile High Illinois, deriving its name from just how tall it would be, the tower would’ve provided a staggering 1.67 million square metres of floor space across 528 floors. Wright explains the vision for the building in his 1956 book A Testament, claiming the building could accommodate over 100,000 people with parking for 15,000 cars and, would you believe it, 150 helicopters.
6. Wright was an advocate for sustainable architecture
In another publication, this time the 1954 text titled The Natural House, the architect devised a green roof for a house he was designing for his son, that is echoed within the rooftop gardens and garden roofs of today. Wright was a big believer in the concept of biophilia, with many of his designs built around the mantra that our structures should merely be an extension of our natural surroundings.
7. Only half of Wright’s designs were constructed
Staggeringly, despite some 532 projects of Wright’s being completed, there were nearly an equal number that were never built. Wright devised over 1,000 projects during his time as a practicing architect, speaking to the genius of the man that many argue was never able to have a number of his finest designs made a reality.