Frank Lloyd Wright was an American original. Prolific, visionary, unorthodox and ingenious, he built for a romantic America, a country with space and grace to spare. While the turbines of Modernism were fitting and turning homes, buildings and cities into parts of a huge functional machine, Wright held on to his belief in an architecture that could dawdle and daydream. His grand plan for cities seemed fantastical and cinematic--the basic building block was not a house but a farm, where each man could grow his own food on an acre block reserved for him since birth--and he was easy to dismiss as hopelessly Utopian. But fortunately for history, he often got to lay his dreams down in concrete and clay tile, giving us Fallingwater, New York City's Guggenheim Museum, the S.C. Johnson Wax building, the Robie House, Unity Temple and more than 450 other buildings, each a lesson in poetic functionalism. And the buildings not only fulfilled his ideals, they also worked. Alas, his creations were decorative and quixotic in an era that preferred the planar and the abstract. If Wright's organic architecture did not spawn a movement, it is not because it was wrong-headed or impractical. It is because his vision was so personal, so deeply inhabited by him, that without him it had no breath at all.
--By Belinda Luscombe