Situated in the quaint little village of Oak Park, Ill., a half hours drive from downtown Chicago, lies the first Home and Studio of the great American architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. It was here where he began exploring radical new ideas that would later become the foundation of his architectural philosophy.
During this highly productive period, Wright and his architects pioneered a revolutionary style of architecture which was to change the face of American residential architecture forever.
Inspired by the flat, expansive landscape of the American Midwest, The Prairie Style combined functionality with beauty and natural aesthetic.
A tour throughout the home and studio gives an insightful glimpse into the genius of Wright’s work. A man that was ahead of his times, his highly intelligent designs almost always exhibited multiple functions, layers and depth. Wright liked to play with perception: a low narrow corridor leads into the grand, lofty playroom. By initially closing us in, the effect of going into the next room becomes so much more dramatic.
He was adverse to clutter and designed various built-in furniture that complemented the architecture of the house. Items which were too large, like the baby grand piano in the playroom, was cleverly tucked into an opening in a wall, its legs and main body hang suspended above a stairwell behind.
Geometric shapes feature constantly throughout the space, from square to octagonal, rectilineal to circular, Wright integrated them seamlessly to create dynamic aesthetics as well as functions. The Drafting room is a great example of how a square room becomes octagonal as our eyes lead us from the ground up to the ceiling. Its second floor balcony was also the first of its kind—suspended solely by a series of chains and weights, without any vertical support pillars.
Together with geometry, Wright’s fascination with fluidity and nature is evident throughout. When he built the connecting indoor corridor leading from the house to his studio, instead of cutting down the existing tree, Wright simply built around it, enclosing a section of the tree in the space. By doing so, not only does nature becomes one with the house, but the sense of indoor/outdoor space become blurred.
After touring the house, do take a stroll down Forest Ave, where you’ll find the largest collection of Frank Lloyd Wright residences in the world. See if you can spot them from the rest!
Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio
951 Chicago Avenue Oak Park, IL 60302