Have you ever seen a building and just been taken aback by it? I don’t mean recognized landmarks like the Eiffel Tower or the Leaning Tower of Pisa, but something smaller, like a house, or an office building, that looks unlike anything else around it. It isn’t the sheer scale that makes these unique constructions stand out, but the way they’ve taken traditional conventions and twisted them, or created entirely new designs in ways that neither you nor anyone else has thought of.
One man that has been on the periphery of my consciousness for years, ever since I saw pictures of his Fallingwater house, is Frank Lloyd Wright. I’ve only recently taken more time to learn about him, prompted by a coffee table book of his life and works I discovered at a friend’s house.
Wright lived from 1867-1959. This, to me, is the single most amazing thing about the man. He lived during a time when architecture in America was heavily influenced by European and Victorian designs. Somehow he was able to rise above the conservative notions of his peers and design based on how he saw the world.
His creations all have a timeless feel to them. Many of them have strong geometrical lines that project strength and solidity, and can’t be easily pigeon-holed into a particular era. His later works took on curving walls and flowing shapes. The interiors of the buildings he designed, especially the houses, are unlike many homes today. While function was just as important to him as design, he managed to achieve a balance between the two, structuring the rooms to be useful but beautiful.
His designs have influenced American architecture of the past 120 years, and will probably continue to do so as his followers and imitators take his work and put their own influences into it.
(If you’re interested about architecture, check out this Wikipedia article and the links at the bottom.)