No single architect can be said to have had a more monumental influence on modern architecture than Frank Lloyd Wright. Born in 1867, Wright began his 72-year career at the age of 19. From that time until his death in 1957, the architect earned himself a name as the great architect of the 20th century. Wright designed thousands of buildings, two of which stand out against the rest:
The Second Imperial Hotel, Tokyo, Japan
Wright’s approach to architecture was rooted in the ideal of combining unique design with a sense of compatibility and intimacy with nature. When it was decided, in 1915, that the first Imperial Hotel could no longer accommodate its growing number of guests, Wright was asked to reconstruct the structure to more modern standards. The first Imperial Hotel was destroyed in a fire in 1919.
Reconstructed in a footprint just slightly larger than that of the original, the hotel adopted an interior layout similar to the first, with the guest wings of the hotel falling in the standard ‘H’ pattern which can be found in most modern hotels. The central, public wing was a bit taller, though unlike modern hotels it sliced through the middle of ‘H.’ This approach allowed for the accommodation of more guests more comfortably, while maintaining a unique and aesthetically pleasing interior design.
While the First Imperial Hotel was made of wood, Wright insisted that the Second Imperial Hotel be cast of stone, for aesthetic reasons as well as earthquake resistance. The design, which incorporates a tall, pyramid-shaped structure, elicited a sense of awe from its guests.
Historians have noted that Wright was heavily influenced by the Cafe Australia in Melbourne, designed by two architects who fell into the Prairie School of thought, the suggestion that the removal of interior walls would open up space in the common areas. Wright’s apprentice Arata Endo would later design the Koshien Hotel, using the Imperial Hotel as his primary architectural influence.
The structure survived the 1923 Great Tokyo Earthquake with limited damage. The earthquake measured a 7.9 on the Richter Scale.
Wright’s most famous work is that of Fallingwater. The house, designed for architect Edgar Kauffman, sits over a waterfall, intricately woven into its surroundings. It represents the epitome of harmony with nature, combined with convenience and safety, the model on which Wright based his later works.
Wright chose the remote, wooded location for its natural beauty, most notably the sound of the waterfall. He also noted the ‘vitality’ of the forest, which was young, as well as the boulders and rock ledges in the area. Wright knew that people were inherently creatures of nature, and that a dwelling should cater to that.
As such, Wright designed Fallingwater to exemplify nature for Kauffman. The low ceilings and large windows, in conjunction with the hill into which the home is built, give visitors the impression of dwelling in a cave. All of the house’s materials blend in with the colors and the materials of the surrounding areas.
The waterfall seals the deal, making Fallingwater the most natural, and awe-inspiring house in the world.
Most architects come from college of art and science, ready to build the types of masterpieces that Frank Lloyd Wright has done. However, it takes a certain type of creative to actually create the kind of masterpieces that would make it onto the Home and Garden channel in one of their awe inspiring episodes that showcases building that do just this. If you think you have this gift, it will show in your work!