Master Builder

8 June marks the birthday of Frank Lloyd Wright in 1867. Wright was one of America’s most honored and recognized architects.

Frank Lloyd Wright was born in Richland Center, Wisconsin, attended Madison High School and was admitted to the UW-Madison.

Wright began his career in architecture by working as a draftsman in Chicago for the firm of Louis Sullivan, whom Wright would fondly call, “lieber Meister” (‘Dear Master’, in English). Wright would go on to open his own offices in the Schiller Building on Randolph Street in Chicago. He would later open studios in Spring Green, Wisconsin and in Arizona.

In addition to the private homes he designed, Wright’s innovations can be seen in such buildings as the Johnson Wax headquarters complex in Racine, Wisconsin and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City. Many Wright designed buildings have been declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Wright was not without his critics and he strongly believed in individualism and did not affiliate with the American Institute of Architects during his career, going so far as to call the organization “a harbor of refuge for the incompetent.”

In addition to his architectural skills, Wright was a leading collector and dealer of Japanese art, some of which influenced his work and much of which helped sustain Wright during periods of financial strain when his work was not in demand and Wright over-extended himself with an extravagant lifestyle.

The architect’s son, John Lloyd Wright, was also an architect, and was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame for having invented ‘Lincoln Logs’ in 1916. The mold for the toy was based on the architecture of the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, designed by the inventor’s father. The foundation of the hotel was designed with interlocking log beams, in an effort to make the structure immune to earth quakes.

Frank Lloyd Wright died in 1959. The US Postal Service issued a stamp bearing his likeness in 1966 as part of it’s ‘Prominent Americans’ series.