Exploring Frank Lloyd Wright's Wisconsin-inspired architecture
We really are lucky here in Milwaukee to have access to all these projects.
- Kristine Hansen author of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Wisconsin: How America’s most famous architect found inspiration in his home state.
Frank Lloyd Wright is arguably the most famous architect in modern history, but did you know he’s originally from Wisconsin? He was born in Richland Center, Wis. in 1867 and that setting became the inspiration for much of his work.
Author Kristine Hansen explores this history in her new book, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Wisconsin: How America’s most famous architect found inspiration in his home state. As Hansen explains, Wright is widely known for organic architecture.
"What this means is that you're specifically looking at the site that the house or the apartment or building a hotel or what have you will be built on, and you're trying to incorporate it into that site. You might build into the hillside. It's really focusing on nature, nature is coming through the windows," says Hansen.
Wisconsin is still home to some of Wright's iconic work, for example, Burnham Block on Milwaukee's south side. These six homes were designed by Wright and are available to visit and experience. They are examples of American system-built homes, an attempt to create homes for the working class. The Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Wauwatosa is another notable local work of Wright's.
Hansen notes Wright often created the furniture that came with his design of homes and buildings. An outstanding work of Wright's is the SC Johnson Administration Building and Research Tower. in Racine, Wis. They have rounded desks designed by Wright, mirroring the shapes seen in the building, and umbrella like columns.
While many of Wright's works still stand, some have been demolished — one is the Lake Geneva Hotel — demolished in 1970. Hansen says that would not have happened today as now there are protections for buildings, or Wright enthusiasts would have rallied. In Milwaukee, the Arthur R. Munkwitz Apartments were built in 1916 and demolished in 1973 when expanding Highland Blvd.
For anyone wanting to learn more about Wright and his works, Hansen suggests visiting where he lived in Spring Green, Wisconsin.