Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959) was one of the most influential architects of the 20th century. A founder of Prairie-style architecture, the American architect developed an organic style based on the philosophy that humans should live and build in harmony with the natural landscape.
His designs collapsed the boundaries between indoors and out, and his innovative structures were built with a combination of local materials like natural stone and modern materials such as concrete and steel, with features like open plan spaces and large expanses of glass that influenced the development of modern architecture in Europe and the mid-century modern aesthetic that still resonates around the world today.
Wright designed more than 1,000 buildings during a career that spanned 70 years. Eight of those buildings are now UNESCO World Heritage listed, and many of the homes that he designed have become museums open to the public. Here is a tiny sampling of some of our favorite Frank Lloyd Wright-designed homes, each of which offers a reminder of why the architect remains a such legend.
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Widely considered Frank Lloyd Wright's masterpiece of residential architecture, Fallingwater House in rural Mill Run, PA was designed in 1935 as a weekend family house for Pittsburgh department store owner Edgar J. Kaufmann, Sr. This quintessential example of organic architecture is built from native sandstone and other materials on the property where it sits perched atop a waterfall. The home is now open to the public as a museum and is the only of of Wright's houses that still has its original furniture and artwork. In 2019, Fallingwater was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.Continue to 2 of 7 below.
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The Martin House
Frank Lloyd Wright built The Martin House in Buffalo, NY for local businessman Darwin D. Martin and his family between 1903 and 1905. A National Historic Landmark as of 1986, it is considered by scholars to be one of Wright’s most successful Prairie Houses, characterized by overhanging eaves, horizontal planes, a central hearth, and a cantilevered roof. The estate features almost 400 examples of Wright-designed art glass, including the legendary “Tree of Life” window. Today the house is open to visitors.Continue to 3 of 7 below.
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The main residence on the summer estate of Graycliff was built between 1926-31 for Isabelle R. Martin, the wife of industrialist Darwin Martin, as a family summer home. Located on a bluff overlooking Lake Erie in Derby, NY, the organic style house is often referred to as "the Jewel on the Lake."
Some of the home's most striking features include an expanse of transparent glass that allows views through the house to the lake, a revolutionary design at the time; as well as cantilevered balconies, ribbon windows, and generous terraces. The home design incorporates local limestone from the cliff and mortar made from sand from the nearby beach. Graycliff is now a New York State Historic Landmark listed on the National Register of Historic Places (1998).Continue to 4 of 7 below.
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The 800-acre Taliesin estate was built and modified between 1897 and 1959 on a hill in Spring Green, Wisconsin, the Wisconsin River valley where Wright’s Welsh grandparents once homesteaded. It became Wright’s home, studio, and what the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation calls “his laboratory of organic architecture, with designs from nearly every decade of Wright’s life.” The main Taliesin residence is now a UNESCO World Heritage site, and is often described as Frank Lloyd Wright’s “autobiography in wood and stone.”Continue to 5 of 7 below.
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Located in the desert foothills of the McDowell Mountains in Scottsdale, Arizona Taliesin West was the winter home and desert lab that Wright called “a look over the rim of the world." Now a National Historic Landmark and UNESCO World Heritage site, the Frank Lloyd Foundation calls Taliesin West, which was built and maintained almost exclusively by the architect and his apprentices, “among the most personal of the architect’s creations,” with a deep connection to its desert location that lends it “an almost prehistoric grandeur.” It is open to the public for tours.Continue to 6 of 7 below.
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Seth Peterson Cottage
The Seth Peterson Cottage is one of Frank Lloyd Wright's lesser known homes, a modest 880-square-foot house designed in 1958 and located on a wooded site on Mirror Lake, near Wisconsin Dells. The cottage is perched on a steep hill and features local Wisconsin stone buttresses and walls, a monumental chimney and central fireplace, and ribbon windows in the bedroom.
One notable flourish is an interior frieze depicting stylized pine trees cut from plywood. Wright admirer and fellow Wisconsin native Peterson, who upon returning from the Army commissioned an elderly Wright to build him and his future bride the house, died at age 24 and never saw his dream cottage built. The house now belongs to the Mirror Lake State Park and is run by a conservancy. It is open to the public for tours and overnight stays.Continue to 7 of 7 below.
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Built on a rural site in Rockford, Illinois, the Laurent House was designed in 1949 for Kenneth Laurent, a paraplegic World War II veteran, and his wife Phyllis. It is the only building that Wright designed specifically for a client with a physical disability, decades before the American Disabilities Act guidelines were created. The functional single-story home was constructed using intersecting arcs, shaped and oriented in order to maximize exposure to the sun. Wright used a color scheme of orange, green, and his signature Cherokee red and he and his apprentices designed most of the furniture. Wright called the Usonian home his “little gem” including it in a book of his 35 most significant buildings. The Laurents lived in the house for 60 years. The Laurent House was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2012 and is open to the public for tours.