Frank Lloyd Wright WAS an Architect
From: Daniel Martin (
Date: Wed, 3 May 95 13:22 CDT
In Cohousing_L #454, Harry Pasternak wrote:

>>* Two of the most "acclaimed" architects in the western world are Corbusier
and Frank Lloyd Wright. A large proportion of architecture schools in the
western world are based on their concepts, notions and designs. Neither
Corbusier or Wright trained as an architect! -Corbu was a cubist painter
(like Picasso)-Wright was a drop-out from civil engineering (I believe he
lasted three months).

     Though the above post is a month old, I'd like to point out a couple
of things.   Refering to Wright as a "drop out" might be a bit romantic in
this case. Far from being a gifted novice, Wright was apprenticed for
several years with Louis B. Sullivan, who was one of the leading Chicago
architects in the late 1800s.  This apprenticeship was at least as
intensive as a formal "school" training, particularly because, up to that
time, the field of architecture was commonly taught via aprenticeships.
This training entailed that Wright was "at the boards" for quite some time
before he was allowed to produce his own designs.  Wright broke the rules
only after fully understanding them.
     While Le Corbusier is a prominent figure in 20th century architectural
design, his early works are not particularly good examples of "real world"
architecture as they suffered from structural deficiencies such as poor
drainage, roof structures inappropriate to their environment and cracks in
the "elevated" foundations.  Tennants of his "public" housing projects,
complained of a coldness in the designs.  These problems are classic
examples of the triumph of concept/form over experience.  A quick look at
Tom Wolfe's, "From Bauhaus to Our House" discusses this aspect of Corbu's
     Paradoxically, I'd say that Corbusier would still be a good example of
why one should be wary of placing all of their faith in the formally
trained architect, as his highly intellectualized approach to design found
a welcome audience in the schools and often worked better in that forum
than outside of the vacuum.
     Frankly (no pun intended) I prefer Wright's approach to design, as I
think his work was much more grounded in "organic" and enduring forms, his
structures remaining relevant to their surroundings as well as the people
who would occupy them.  In discussing community housing development, Wright
is quite appropriate, not only for his experiments in the "Usonian" (low
cost) home,  but also because of his examination, throughout his career, of
planned communities.

Daniel Martin
Santa Cruz, CA

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