It’s hard to think of many architects who have influenced American design as much as Frank Lloyd Wright. To mark its 50th anniversary this May, New York’s Guggenheim Museum will debut a huge retrospective of Wright’s work in one of his most celebrated buildings. “Frank Lloyd Wright: From Within Outward” will showcase 62 of the projects–from the residential to the civic–that the architect tackled over his 70-plus year career, as well as a couple of hundred of his drawings, many of them on view to the public for the first time. I want to see Wright’s 1957 urban revitalization model for Baghdad, which was, unfortunately, never realized.
As I learn more about the man behind the models, though, I become increasingly interested in Wright’s personal life. He was the complete opposite of his tranquil designs, full of tempestuous marriages and ugly divorces, affairs, and tragedy (one of his lovers died in a fire set by a disgruntled manservant). How fascinating that under these almost soap opera-like conditions, Wright created peaceful, decidedly harmonic buildings. If I were to plan a “Road Trip to Discovering Frank Lloyd Wright,” here’s how it would go:
* I’d start at Graycliff in upstate New York, with its sun-filled spaces. Supposedly, the property’s former owner was losing her sight, and asked for it to be built with lots of light.
* Then on to Pennsylvania’s Fallingwater, a dramatic cantilevered structure built over a waterfall.
* There would have to be a couple of stops in Chicago, where Wright lived for most of his adult life. The Frederick C. Robie House, built between 1908 and 1910, is perhaps the greatest example of the architect’s Prairie style, and with its 100-year anniversary coming up, the building has undergone massive restoration. Unity Temple is considered one of the most important projects of Wright’s career. And of course, his home/studio would be a must-stop. Take a look at for suggested tours in town.
* Next up, Ohio’s Westcott House, another Prairie-style icon. It only opened to the public in 2005, when it became a museum.
* Wright’s only fully realized skyscraper, Price Tower in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, is now a museum and hotel.
* In Hollywood, Wright designed the Hollyhock House for an oil heiress (check out an excerpt from his letter on the Web site’s home page). And I couldn’t leave Los Angeles without seeing the Ennis House.
Any other stops I should add? Let me know.