Organic Architecture

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One of the most striking personalities in the development of early-twentieth century architecture was Frank Lloyd Wright (1867–1959). Wright attended the University of Wisconsin in Madison before moving to Chicago, where he eventually joined the firm headed by Louis Sullivan. Wright set out to create "architecture of democracy." Early influences were the volumetric shapes in a set of educational blocks the German educator Friedrich Froebel designed, the organic unity of a Japanese building Wright saw at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893, and a Jeffersonian belief in individualism and populism. Always a believer in architecture as "natural" and "organic," Wright saw it as serving free individuals who have the right to move within a "free" space, envisioned as a nonsymmetrical design interacting spatially with its natural surroundings. He sought to develop an organic unity of planning, structure, materials, and site. Wright identified the principle of continuity as fundamental to understanding his view of organic unity: "Classic architecture was all fixation. . . . Now why not let walls, ceilings, floors become seen as component parts of each other? . . . This ideal, profound in its architectural implications . . . I called . . . continuity." Wright manifested his vigorous originality early, and by 1900 he had arrived at a style entirely his own. In his work during the first decade of the twentieth century, his cross-axial plan and his fabric of continuous roof planes and screens defined a new domestic architecture. Wright fully expressed these elements and concepts in Robie House, built between 1907 and 1909. Like other buildings in the Chicago area he designed at about the same time, this was called a "prairie house." Wright conceived the long, sweeping ground-hugging lines, unconfined by abrupt wall limits, as reaching out toward and capturing the expansiveness of the Midwest’s great flatlands. Abandoning all symmetry, the architect eliminated a...
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