FrankLloyd Wright, an architect during the late 1800s would become one of thegreatest and most influential architects around the world. Born in 1867,Wright grew up in Weymouth, Massachusetts where as an infant his motherdecorated his nursey with engravings of English cathedrals hoping that it wouldencourage him to want to build great things when he is older (Wikipedia). Also,a young child around nine years old, Wright had Froebel Gifts which would be influentialin his later designs in life.
Froebel gifts which were anything from blocks,strings, round objects, and different objects that kids usually in kindergartencan be creative and would help them to become a free democratic thinker ontheir own. For instance, Wright believed he learned geometry of architectureand said, “For several years I sat at the little Kindergarten table-top andplayed with the cube, the sphere, and the triangle- these smooth wooden mapleblocks all are in my fingers to this day” (wiki Froebel). Wright would thengraduate from University of Wisconsin in the major of Civil Engineering. Whileattending school Wright worked with the architect Joseph Silsbee on theconstruction of the Unity Chapel where he would discover his love forarchitecture leading him to drop out to work for Silsbee (Biography.com) After working for Louis Sullivan fora few years Wright would go on to becoming an architect and working by himself.Over next several years Wright would design many homes and public buildingsthat would earn the title and style called “Prairie School” (flwright.
org).”Prairie School” was usually associated in the Midwest and consisted of having”flat or hipped roofs with broad eaves, windows assembled in horizontal bands,solid construction, and restraint in the use of decoration”(Prairieschoolarchitecture.com). Alsowith this style the horizontal lines on the house were used so that it unifiedwith the native prairie landscape of the Midwest. Wright would go on to remodeling a home inSpringfield, Illinois in 1902 that would become the greatest Prairie Stylehouses built, the Dana Thomas House. Susan Lawrence Dana, the owner ofthe Dana Thomas House was born in 1862 who grew up in a wealthy family. Herfather first worked as a mason but then started to supply the military withsupplies that would go to the state and federal government during the Civil Warleading to the family’s wealth (www2.
illinois.gov). After many years of tragediesincluding failed marriages, death of husbands, and her father’s death in 1901.Susan would receive a large fortune that her father left her after passingaway. While later her life Susan would begin her career in campaigning for manypublic affairs. Such as women’s rights, equality of African Americans, andparticipating in committees for social services (www.2.illinois.
gov). With thelarge amount of wealth left buy her father she wanted to remodel their home fromItalianate architecture to what is now Prairie Style. While she was looking fora designer who would meet her criteria that she wanted she ran across the nameof Frank L. Wright who was rising as a leader in the new movement ofarchitecture.
She would later hire him to become the architect for the remoldingin 1902. During this remodeling it was very interestingalong the facts of Susan giving Wright an empty check with unlimited budget to beas creative as he can with the house. Because of this the house and its designwould become abnormally big, but for the main purpose of entertainment.
The DanaHouse is in Springfield, Illinois along the streets of 4th andLawrence Streets being only a few blocks from downtown(frankllyodwrightsites.com). When Wright went about trying to figure out how hewould make the design for the remodeling of the house he went with the newstyle of Prairie Style which would later make this house the prime example of thisarchitectural style. With the new designof the house Wright expanded the house plans abnormally making the house nowhow up to thirty-five rooms with one thousand two hundred square feet ofhousing and two hundred and eighty-eight square feet for garages(wikiarquitectura.com).
With this house and its remodel instead of keepingmost of the house as is and adding on to parts of the house Wright had most ofit taken down, but leaving some interior aspects of the Italianate architecturesuch as the Victorian fireplace. The Prairie Style for this house fit perfectlyfor Susan’s aspirations because it showed her personality of being flamboyant andshowing her love of Japanese prints and drawings (wiki). When Wright looked at the exteriorof the house right away he could tell that he could make many changes that canhelp with the sixteen levels in the interior.
While with the roofs of the househe decided to go with the idea of Asian Architecture where the corners are setin a faux because of her great admiration for Japan. According to Wikiarquitectura:At the top, the façade is decorated with a frieze ofterracotta and plaster coating on a metallic green color. The rest of thebuilding I built with bricks long and narrow, horizontal boards which have beencarefully crafted so that bricks appear to float at the same time to emphasizethe horizontal plane at stake with the horizontally of the roof. Alsoaround the exterior is a six-foot privacy wall surrounding the building besidesthe driveway and entrance to the house. Wright tended to have walls like these in many of hisresidential home designs including his house in Chicago, IL Robie House. Here withthis house he makes a privacy wall next to the side walk where those who arewalking can not see into the house, but if you are in the house the floor ishigh enough that you are able to still have a view of the outside while havingprivacy. Another fascinating piece of the remodeling of the house were thewindows the Wright placed into the house.
In the Dana House there are over two hundred and fiftystained glass windows, doors, light panels, and over two hundred light fixturesto light up the house. Wright as an architect hated the idea of having curtainsin a home because of two reasons. You cannotachieve the true value of the window view and it stopped the interior exteriorrelationship sought by the author (wikiarquitura). He achieved this by using a stained-glass or as likea reflective glass in the windows that if someone were to stand outside alongthe street and look at the window they wouldn’t be able to see through, but someonein the interior could still see outward. Which in the world of architecture isvery creative being able to eliminate curtains on a window for privacy by justchanging how a window is the home.When it comes to architecture Frank L. Wright is mostlyknow for how he designs his interior space.
He believed that when you aredesigning any kind of architecture that you are designing based on the programor the purpose of the space not based on the form of the building. Because if youfocused on the design of the outside form the interior is not going to be asgreat for the interior, but if you make it based on interior it will achieveits main purpose and still have a very good design to the outer form of the building.Also during the 1898-99 in architecture many believed in having separation inthe functional of the house and environment while Wright believed more into theways of having open floor plans with hardly no separations such as runners orgates.
Like many of his design of residential homes he followed the concept of openfloor plans in this house to. Such as all the rooms including the master havemore than one exit or entrances and hardly any walls to separate rooms. Also, Wrightloved to place a fire place/furnace in the middle of his homes which he alsodid in the Dana House too. Back to when Wright viewed exterior of the buildingand realized he could bring out the many levels of the home he came up witharound 4 major levels of the house to change and work with.
These included the Lower level, Main floor,Second floor, and the Courtyard. The lower level which could beconsidered as the basement of the house because it was below ground consistedof having the library with a fireplace, a game room, cloakroom, and securitycabin. Thecloakroom is a room in a house or public building where you would go and placeyour coat or any other belonging that you have for a temporarily time whileyour gone. With the library in the house was mostly used forparties for children or events for adults little did many know that when Susanhad to sell belongs in the house they found many books by Voltaire, Goethe,Mark Twain, and George Sand, but also didn’t tell about he collection ofstudies for comparative religion, human sexuality, and astrology (www.2.illinois.gov). In the Main floor is where the most happens inthe house and since the house was built for use of entertainment it needed tohave a lot of space and purpose to it.
On this floor there is the East Wing Galleryin which Wright based on that if Susan had any social or art gatherings itcould be in this room with tables that Wright designed to exhibit paintings ofJapanese housewives. Now moving to the “Entrance Hall” this is where whensomeone comes into the house and their eyes go up to the ceiling because itconnects with the second level and its just fascinating especially with the coloredglass windows he put into the design of the home. This would be the first roomthat would walk into as soon as you come into the house. Also on this floor isthe lounge where it still has part of the Victorian style that Wright left fromthe previous house. The longue has a T-shaped space to with the roof onthe sides and top front of the fireplace with also an open area with glassdoors on each side (Wikiarquitectura). With the Second floor and courtyardthere is not as much to it as the rest of the house. On this floor it consistsof all the livings areas such as the master bedroom, bedrooms with adjoin bathrooms,and services.
Also, another eye-catching part of the design is that there aretwo balconies on this level that go to look over the orchestra. The courtyardwhich is also surrounded by the six-foot privacy wall holds a pool and a smallpool house which lies east of the house on the property. The Dana House was way before its timecompared to the surrounding houses during the early 1900s. Most houses duringthis time were usually Victorian style homes. Victorian style was very popular andhad many characteristics that made it stand out from other styles of architectureduring this time. According to HGTV:The house was usually large and imposing with havingtwo or three stories to it. Majority of these houses used wood or stone for theirexterior like the Romanesque style. Theses homes were usually complicated suchas having wings and bays in different directions.
The walls and trim in thehouse were usually decorative or even textured surfaces. The roof of thesehouses was very steep connected to a one-story porch. One main characteristicsthat came with this style was the vibrant colors used both in the interior andexterior of the houses. Now compared to the Prairie Style in whichthe Dana House follows it would be considered as a standout or could be consideredas a disappointing architecture just because it was a completely newstyle that has not been around for people understand it.
Soon that style would becomea major architectural style around the country today in many designs for homes.