Frank
Lloyd Wright, an architect during the late 1800s would become one of the
greatest and most influential architects around the world. Born in 1867,
Wright grew up in Weymouth, Massachusetts where as an infant his mother
decorated his nursey with engravings of English cathedrals hoping that it would
encourage 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 influential
in his later designs in life. Froebel gifts which were anything from blocks,
strings, round objects, and different objects that kids usually in kindergarten
can be creative and would help them to become a free democratic thinker on
their own. For instance, Wright believed he learned geometry of architecture
and said, “For several years I sat at the little Kindergarten table-top and
played with the cube, the sphere, and the triangle- these smooth wooden maple
blocks all are in my fingers to this day” (wiki Froebel). Wright would then
graduate from University of Wisconsin in the major of Civil Engineering. While
attending school Wright worked with the architect Joseph Silsbee on the
construction of the Unity Chapel where he would discover his love for
architecture leading him to drop out to work for Silsbee (Biography.com)

            After working for Louis Sullivan for
a 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 buildings
that 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). Also
with this style the horizontal lines on the house were used so that it unified
with the native prairie landscape of the Midwest. Wright would go on to remodeling a home in
Springfield, Illinois in 1902 that would become the greatest Prairie Style
houses built, the Dana Thomas House.

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            Susan Lawrence Dana, the owner of
the Dana Thomas House was born in 1862 who grew up in a wealthy family. Her
father first worked as a mason but then started to supply the military with
supplies that would go to the state and federal government during the Civil War
leading to the family’s wealth (www2.illinois.gov). After many years of tragedies
including failed marriages, death of husbands, and her father’s death in 1901.
Susan would receive a large fortune that her father left her after passing
away. While later her life Susan would begin her career in campaigning for many
public affairs. Such as women’s rights, equality of African Americans, and
participating in committees for social services (www.2.illinois.gov). With the
large amount of wealth left buy her father she wanted to remodel their home from
Italianate architecture to what is now Prairie Style. While she was looking for
a designer who would meet her criteria that she wanted she ran across the name
of Frank L. Wright who was rising as a leader in the new movement of
architecture. She would later hire him to become the architect for the remolding
in 1902.

            During this remodeling it was very interesting
along the facts of Susan giving Wright an empty check with unlimited budget to be
as creative as he can with the house. Because of this the house and its design
would become abnormally big, but for the main purpose of entertainment. The Dana
House is in Springfield, Illinois along the streets of 4th and
Lawrence Streets being only a few blocks from downtown
(frankllyodwrightsites.com). When Wright went about trying to figure out how he
would make the design for the remodeling of the house he went with the new
style of Prairie Style which would later make this house the prime example of this
architectural style.  With the new design
of the house Wright expanded the house plans abnormally making the house now
how up to thirty-five rooms with one thousand two hundred square feet of
housing and two hundred and eighty-eight square feet for garages
(wikiarquitectura.com). With this house and its remodel instead of keeping
most of the house as is and adding on to parts of the house Wright had most of
it taken down, but leaving some interior aspects of the Italianate architecture
such as the Victorian fireplace. The Prairie Style for this house fit perfectly
for Susan’s aspirations because it showed her personality of being flamboyant and
showing her love of Japanese prints and drawings (wiki).

            When Wright looked at the exterior
of the house right away he could tell that he could make many changes that can
help with the sixteen levels in the interior. While with the roofs of the house
he decided to go with the idea of Asian Architecture where the corners are set
in a faux because of her great admiration for Japan. According to Wikiarquitectura:

At the top, the façade is decorated with a frieze of
terracotta and plaster coating on a metallic green color. The rest of the
building I built with bricks long and narrow, horizontal boards which have been
carefully crafted so that bricks appear to float at the same time to emphasize
the horizontal plane at stake with the horizontally of the roof.   

Also
around the exterior is a six-foot privacy wall surrounding the building besides
the driveway and entrance to the house. Wright tended to have walls like these in many of his
residential home designs including his house in Chicago, IL Robie House. Here with
this house he makes a privacy wall next to the side walk where those who are
walking can not see into the house, but if you are in the house the floor is
high enough that you are able to still have a view of the outside while having
privacy. Another fascinating piece of the remodeling of the house were the
windows the Wright placed into the house.

In the Dana House there are over two hundred and fifty
stained glass windows, doors, light panels, and over two hundred light fixtures
to light up the house. Wright as an architect hated the idea of having curtains
in a home because of two reasons.  You cannot
achieve the true value of the window view and it stopped the interior exterior
relationship sought by the author (wikiarquitura). He achieved this by using a stained-glass or as like
a reflective glass in the windows that if someone were to stand outside along
the street and look at the window they wouldn’t be able to see through, but someone
in the interior could still see outward. Which in the world of architecture is
very creative being able to eliminate curtains on a window for privacy by just
changing how a window is the home.

When it comes to architecture Frank L. Wright is mostly
know for how he designs his interior space. He believed that when you are
designing any kind of architecture that you are designing based on the program
or the purpose of the space not based on the form of the building. Because if you
focused on the design of the outside form the interior is not going to be as
great for the interior, but if you make it based on interior it will achieve
its 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 in
the functional of the house and environment while Wright believed more into the
ways of having open floor plans with hardly no separations such as runners or
gates.
Like many of his design of residential homes he followed the concept of open
floor plans in this house to. Such as all the rooms including the master have
more than one exit or entrances and hardly any walls to separate rooms. Also, Wright
loved to place a fire place/furnace in the middle of his homes which he also
did in the Dana House too. Back to when Wright viewed exterior of the building
and realized he could bring out the many levels of the home he came up with
around 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 be
considered as the basement of the house because it was below ground consisted
of having the library with a fireplace, a game room, cloakroom, and security
cabin. The
cloakroom is a room in a house or public building where you would go and place
your coat or any other belonging that you have for a temporarily time while
your gone. With the library in the house was mostly used for
parties for children or events for adults little did many know that when Susan
had 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 of
studies for comparative religion, human sexuality, and astrology (www.2.illinois.gov).

             In the Main floor is where the most happens in
the house and since the house was built for use of entertainment it needed to
have a lot of space and purpose to it. On this floor there is the East Wing Gallery
in which Wright based on that if Susan had any social or art gatherings it
could be in this room with tables that Wright designed to exhibit paintings of
Japanese housewives. Now moving to the “Entrance Hall” this is where when
someone comes into the house and their eyes go up to the ceiling because it
connects with the second level and its just fascinating especially with the colored
glass windows he put into the design of the home. This would be the first room
that would walk into as soon as you come into the house. Also on this floor is
the lounge where it still has part of the Victorian style that Wright left from
the previous house. The longue has a T-shaped space to with the roof on
the sides and top front of the fireplace with also an open area with glass
doors on each side (Wikiarquitectura).

            With the Second floor and courtyard
there is not as much to it as the rest of the house. On this floor it consists
of 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 are
two balconies on this level that go to look over the orchestra. The courtyard
which is also surrounded by the six-foot privacy wall holds a pool and a small
pool house which lies east of the house on the property.

            The Dana House was way before its time
compared to the surrounding houses during the early 1900s. Most houses during
this time were usually Victorian style homes. Victorian style was very popular and
had many characteristics that made it stand out from other styles of architecture
during this time. According to HGTV:

The house was usually large and imposing with having
two or three stories to it. Majority of these houses used wood or stone for their
exterior like the Romanesque style. Theses homes were usually complicated such
as having wings and bays in different directions. The walls and trim in the
house were usually decorative or even textured surfaces. The roof of these
houses was very steep connected to a one-story porch. One main characteristics
that came with this style was the vibrant colors used both in the interior and
exterior of the houses.           

Now compared to the Prairie Style in which
the Dana House follows it would be considered as a standout or could be considered
as a disappointing architecture just because it was a completely

 

new
style that has not been around for people understand it. Soon that style would become
a major architectural style around the country today in many designs for homes. 

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