America Celebrates Frank Lloyd Wright’s 150th Birthday

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This year marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of Frank Lloyd Wright, one of the most influential and visionary architects of the 20th century. The Wisconsin-born Wright pioneered the Prairie style of residential design, which was inspired by the broad, flat landscape of the American Midwest. He also became known for what he called “organic architecture,” which aimed to create harmony between buildings, their inhabitants and the natural surroundings. The prolific architect designed some 1,000 buildings, several hundred of which were built.

To commemorate Wright’s June 8 birthday, his work is being celebrated around the country with museum shows, home tours, lectures and parties. Join us on an armchair tour of some of his noted designs. Be sure to check ticket availability if you plan on visiting any of the sites.

You can both visit and tour Wright’s New York architectural masterwork, which he started designing in the mid-1940s. The building was completed in 1959, a few months after Wright’s death at age 91. He designed the Guggenheim as a spiral ramp without separate floor levels. Visitors take an elevator to the top of the building and descend down the gently sloping ramp as they view the art.

Frank Lloyd Wright at 150: Unpacking the Archive, a major exhibition on the architect and his work, opens at New York’s Museum of Modern Art on June 12. The show, which runs through Oct. 1, will feature more than 400 works from the 1890s through the 1950s, including architectural drawings, models, building fragments, films, TV broadcasts, print media, furniture, tableware, textiles, paintings, photographs and scrapbooks, as well as items that have rarely or never been publicly exhibited.

The show will highlight the major events in Wright’s life and career and will cover such topics as his preoccupation with ornament; his understanding of the relationship between nature, landscape and architecture; and his engagement with Native American design in a search for an original American architecture of the future.

Its spectacular cantilevered design has made Fallingwater perhaps the best-known and most widely admired of Wright’s buildings. The home, commissioned as a weekend retreat in the lush Bear Run Nature Reserve in Pennsylvania’s Allegheny Mountains, was completed in 1938 and today is a museum. Guided tours are offered, with advance ticket purchase essential due to demand.

On display through December at Fallingwater is the exhibition Wright for Wright: The Experimental Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Homes. The 150th-anniversary show explores key design elements of three Wright homes — his Oak Park, Illinois, home and studio; his Taliesin estate in Wisconsin; and his Taliesin West property in Arizona — and their function in the architect’s life and legacy.

Wright made his winter residence in the desert foothills of the McDowell Mountains in Scottsdale, Arizona. Taliesin West was established in 1937 and today is home to the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation and Taliesin, the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture. June 8 tours of the site are being offered at $1.50 and are selling out fast so reservations are strongly recommended. The facility also offers tours year-round. On Nov. 4, a 150th birthday gala will honor the architect.

Of course there are other homes and buildings around the county to check into as well.

Alix Flamm is an interior designer working in the Newport Beach, Irvine, Tustin, Mission Viejo, Laguna Beach, area of Orange County, California.