This video talks about FLW’s adaptation of different architectural styles from his travels across the world. With help of different architectural critics, his architectural style in L.A. is dissected and explained. In a lot of his works, one can see the influence of different architectural styles, and materials along with his life experiences. The video also describes the influence of Mayan architecture seen in Llyod’s L.A. houses. This video is described as a storyline involving Wright’s personal as well as professional life.
His initial career began as a draftsman and a civil engineer, with Sullivan. Sullivan mainly designed commercial projects, hence Wright started designing residential projects. Sullivan also hired Wright for five years on a bond, along with helping him financially. With that help, he bought land in oak park next to his mother’s house and built a house for himself. In order to clear his debts, he started designing independently. These projects had an influence of Queen Anne and Colonial revival architecture, which was also seen in his own house. After parting ways with Sullivan, he started working independently with other fellow young architects under one roof. This was the establishment of Prairie School Architects in the 1910s which also turned out to be his era of second innings.
By this time, Wright was married to Catherine and had started a family, in his house in Oak Park. At this time, he had developed an architectural style where he used the ornamentation details inspired by Sullivan’s design style, and kept the massing grounded and low. This got further evolved into horizontal lines and planes. A perfect example of this style is Robie House, where the materials and the planes speak for themselves in synchronization with the architectural style. The entire is massed in such a way that it looks grounded and subtle, when seen with the entire context. With its tall walls and long horizontal planes almost perceived as lines make the structure look floating. The dynamic relationship formed by the architect clearly stands out in the context
With the increase in the scale of the projects from residential to commercial, he also started losing interest in his personal life. He designed a house for Edwin H. and Mamah B., a few miles away from his house in Oak Park. Mamah B. turned out to be Wright’s love interest, which brought a sudden change in his personality. After this, he left his work, wife, and kids; and along with Mamah went to Europe. In Tuscan, they settled, where Wright travelled around to adapt and learn the European modernism in Berlin. There he started exhibiting and publishing his work but soon returned to America to resume his practice.
Wright being driven by artistic temperament, took a risky path by experimenting with different architectural styles. After returning back, he built a house and a studio on his mother’s land in Wisconsin. This house was for Mamah and Wright, known as Taliesin. The materials he used were the ones available on or near the site. The sand used for construction was from the Wisconsin River, which was also used to make stucco for the house. This stucco gave a light color to the building, same as the banks of the river. This project turned out to be one of his finest works, as it has an appropriate response to the context, landscape, materials, etc. Along with this he also maintained his office and clients in Chicago. In 1914, his life changed completely after he found out about the brutal mass murder of the lady love and children. Along with the house, his studio was also brought down with fire. A chapel just near his house had the remains of his lady love.
After this tragedy, he had a breakdown and visited Southern California. He decided to start new work and take on new projects. During his visit, he studied a lot of historical and pre-Columbian designs at Panama California Exposition. These ruins had artifacts of the Mayan era, with intriguing yet simple decorative patterns. With his learning from Mayan architecture, he learned how to find the connection between architecture and death. These designs used by the Mayan people become a toolbox and a medium to express as well as experience the play of light.
A.D. German Warehouse was one of the first projects designed by Wright after losing Mamah and returning to the Midwest. There was a vast difference between the previously designed residential projects and the upcoming projects. This new style of architecture is seen, where the building is kept closer to the ground and the edge of the building is detailed with Mayan designs. Wright proposed the Hollyhock House in 1921, which had a lot of Mayan impressions and articulation. With a plane facade at the bottom and cravings at the top, which are abstractions of the owner’s favourite flower.
In order to make an affordable construction system, a modular block was designed with Mayan patterns. These patterns also act as voids within the module. Learned from his experience, in Taliesin, he made these blocks fireproof. As a challenge, he spent a lot of time understanding concrete and its applications. Formwork with Mayan stamps was made to give proper lighting. Millard House was one of the well-known houses in L.A. designed by Wright. For this project, the Mayan pattern selected for articulation was a plus which also depicted the universe.
Various architectural critics think that Wright was a person with an artistic temperament and this always encouraged him towards evolving new styles. These new styles also have a strong relationship with his state of mind. The tragedy and pain of losing everyone pushed him towards designing heavy, massive structures. This made him think about the safety of the users. In this later period of time, his designs and architectural style also had an influence of pain and suffering he had been going through.