Architecture is synonymous with Frank Lloyd Wright. With a career spanning 70 years and 1000 structures, every architect that has ever practised in the modern era has been inspired by this master. Coining the term “organic architecture”, Wright’s core principle revolves around the site forming and dictating design. With structures responding to the surroundings and with a certain balance about them, Wright began from the Prairie School of thought, after which he settled on his stronger language of design.
Heralded as the architect that brought architecture to the mainstream, here are 15 architects/firms that base their designs around FL Wright:
1. ZAHA HADID/ ZAHA HADID ARCHITECTS
Inspired by the then outlandish form of the Guggenheim in New York, Hadid admired the vertical spiral that acts as a continuous exhibition journey. Using audacious curves and flowing forms in her designs like the Alphadome& Al Janoub Stadium, Zaha Hadid and her firms experiment with bold designs that introduce fresh perspectives of volume and mass, while adopting contemporary structure and materials. While the buildings adopt an abstract form, the mastery of volume, light, and materiality translate the space to offer a special experience.
2. JORN UTZON/ UTZON ARCHITECTS
Jorn Utzon is widely renowned for the Sydney Opera House, a structure that has curving roof forms, had audacious strokes due to Utzon idolizing Wright, among Alvar Aalto and Gunnar Aspland. Lesser known works, like the Kingo Houses, Fredensborg houses, and even the Skagen Odde Nature Center were inspired by the Prairie style, which Wright is famous for developing. Though the designs speak of the context, Utzon utilizes the scale of the structure to an advantage, changing language for private and public buildings.
3. EERO SAARINEN/EERO SAARINEN & ASSOCIATES
Though his forms are labelled under neo-futuristic style, obvious inspirations from FL Wright’s style of design can be seen in the TWA Terminal and due to his broad style and dexterity in design, Saarinen explored designing furniture as well as the extreme of Brutalist architecture in the Milwaukee County War Memorial Center. Due to not having a signature style, Saarinen’s work is often overlooked as being inspired but features many elements of organic architecture.
4. SANTIAGO CALATRAVA/ SANTIAGO CALATRAVA ARCHITECTS
With wide-ranging expertise- from structural intimacy and strong, curvaceous forms, Calatrava mentions working from sections like FL Wright to get the desired effect from a structure. Though core principles do not conform to the limited design options of Wright, Calatrava uses his proficiency in materials and the site to create artistic buildings like Turning Torso and WTC that contrast sharply from the context, focusing on creating frames and viewing the structure as a whole, and in parts.
5. NORMAN FOSTER/FOSTER+PARTNERS
Perhaps the most well-known architect in the world today, even as a student Foster explains how the principle of organic architecture, the idea behind responding to the environment around and admiration of the Prairie style has moulded his idea behind the most iconic buildings ever constructed, including the Gherkin as well as the new Apple riverfront store in Chicago. Studying the style in depth, Fosters’ designs respond to the context and need, an important tool of design seen in his works.
6. THOMAS HEATHERWICK/HEATHERWICK STUDIO
Thomas Heatherwick and his studio’s complex and inventive style of designing root from an organic style but also due to the need of the hour. Heatherwick claims to not be designing but inventing to solve problems that he sees around, at a macro scale as well as at the site level. Revered and resented equally for his intrepid designs, his structures take lifelike form, contrasting to the context it has been placed in, seen in works like Learning Hub, Singapore, or the Lantern House in New York.
7. RENZO PIANO/RPBW ARCHITECTS
Known widely for his Neo-Futuristic style, Piano has had a unique design language under the tutelage of Wright’s modernistic style. Trying to strike a balance between the two, Piano is respected for formulating and creating structural forms unique to every structure, seen in the likes of The Shard, London& The Menil Collection in U.S, which correspond to principles followed by Wright, and an inventive, experimental approach amalgamated with Piano’s technical expertise.
8. TADAO ANDO/TADAO ANDO A&A
Ando, a virtuoso in his style of Japanese style induced modernism, had stated the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo to be a pivotal point in his architectural journey. Rich with symbolism, the play of light, and command over the materials used, Ando’s ‘critical regionalism’ speaks of the place and time, while remaining relevant years later. The Church of Light, Ibaraki, and the He Art Museum, China are perfect examples of buildings that respond to the surroundings while paying respect to nature.
9. RICHARD NEUTRA/NEUTRA VDL STUDIO
One of the most prolific and important modernists in the field of architecture, Neutra was known for his intensive client-specific designs, utilizing views and integrating nature into his buildings, seen in structures like the Lovell and Miller House. After arriving in America to work for Wright’s studio, Neutra framed his structures around Prairie style and held on to many elements, leading to ‘biorealism’, principles his studio still uses in creating expressive designs that merge into the surroundings.
10. FRANK GEHRY/GEHRY PARTNERS
Pushing the boundaries of organic architecture, Gehry, much like Hadid experiments with forms and shapes that seem extra-terrestrial in his designs. Facing equal amounts of criticism and accolades for his designs, Gehry is known for having the completed form almost identical to his concept, showing the depth to which his design transcends. Admiring Wright’s as a student, Gehry had the opportunity to design the Guggenheim in Bilbao, a project that acted as a catalyst in reviving an economically distraught city, also known as “The Bilbao Effect”.
11. PAOLO SOLERI/COSANTI FOUNDATION, ARCOSANTI
The Cosanti Foundation led by organicist Paolo Soleri made a big impact with the dedicated work- as an urban theorist and visionary as well as an experimentalist in the counterculture. The one-of-a-kind prototype project of pure organic architecture-Arcosanti was his life’s work. Using methods such as ‘earth casting’, Soleri created a new idea of ‘urban implosion’, where the city would be dense and build inwards while leaving rural areas untouched. His dogmatic principles are followed to this day, by architects under his tutelage.
12. KENGO KUMA/KENGO KUMA & ASSOCIATES
With early inspirations of human scale, materiality, and response to the environment, Kengo Kuma has developed a unique design, yet binds to the traditions of Japanese Architecture. His work is reflective of the setting it is in, seen in the likes of The Exchange, Australia yet holds on to the genius of vernacular design, in the Yusuhara Wooden Bridge Museum, Japan. Though not visible in his structures, Kuma reveres Wright and respects him for teaching him scale and humility through his projects.
13. CUTLER ANDERSON ARCHITECTS
With a wide range of projects, Cutler Anderson have a recurring theme in their projects, directly interacting with nature around them. Visible in projects such as Newberg Residence or the Rock House, CA Architects let the site around them design the built form, leading to well-scaled, context-appropriate designs that have a lasting image.
14. ANTONIN RAYMOND/ RAYMOND ARCHITECTURAL DESIGN OFFICE
Assisting Wright in the building of the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, Raymond went on to explore his style of architecture, while establishing himself a prominent figure in Japanese Modern Architecture. Adopting the early Prairie style rather than the organic, clear elements are observed in the designs of Ehrismann Residence and an introduction of modern architecture in India, with Golconde Hostel- the first concrete, cast-in-place building in India. A true visionary of his time he laid down foundations for ideals the firm uses to this day.
15. MICHAEL PAWLYN/EXPLORATION ARCHITECTURE
Combining principles of biomimetic architecture with the advancements of science, Pawlyn is known for The Eden Project and other forms of architecture that challenge the built form and respect the environment, while creating superior advancements in structures with research & design. Ranging from product & furniture to architectural design, Pawlyn is credited with exploring the expanse of biomimicry and how it can help in true, sustainable design.
Wright’s impact on the architectural world is a result of a domino effect, initiated by schools of thought ideated by one man. Though many architects found a style that is unique and reflects their character and design language, FLW’s work has had an undeniably profound effect on them, adding to small values in design with exponential results. Architecture will always be associated in some form with Frank Lloyd Wright, as firms idolize him through their work.