Frank Lloyd Wright's Work

Week 12 Data and Historical Background

Posted by David Velleca on May 24, 2018

Historical Background

My dad is an engineer, and as such has been interested in Frank Lloyd Wright for as long as I can remember (probably longer...). On family trips to the Lake of the Ozarks, we'd look at some of the homes that overlooked the lake, noting how they were inspired by Wright's timeless and creative style. We'd discuss his design principles and the magnificent buildings that Wright was responsible for designing. I'd imagine this blend of architectural influence, and my dad's engineering background are what led my brother to earn his degree in architectural engineering. I took a different route in my education and career, but nonetheless cannot help but be amazed by the work of Frank Lloyd Wright.

Wright was born in Wisconsin, but spent his early years bouncing around the country, spending time in Rhode Island, Iowa, Massachusetts and returning to Wisconsin at the age of 11. After finding some stability in Wisconsin, his parents divorced when he was 18, forcing Wright to gain employment in an effort to support his family. While a student at the University of Wisconsin, he began working for the Dean of the Engineering Department, gaining invaluable experience, and solidifying his desire to become an architect.

After two years in this position, Wright headed to Chicago where he eventually worked for Adler and Sullivan, a successful architectural firm that was responsible for designing what is considered to be one of the first skyscrapers - the Wainwright Building in St. Louis. While working for Adler and Sullivan, Wright started a family, and constructed his first home. This building gave Wright the opportunity to experiment with different design techniques as he added on to the property to support his growing family. During this time, Wright's desire to earn additional money found him striking out on his own, eventually putting him in breach of contract and ultimately ending his career with Adler and Sullivan.

This was a pivotal moment in Wright's professional life, providing him the opportunity and motivation to open his own firm. The first major commission for Wright was the Winslow House outside of Chicago in 1893. Wright considered this house to be vital to his success and future style, calling it the first 'Prairie House.' This building would influence his future style and teach him important lessons that he would incorporate into his further works. He found additional success with several residential properties, eventually also adding commercial and civic projects to his portfolio.

Wright's personal life was pretty messy, to the point that the only constant in his life appears to be his work. Throughout his career, he continued to innovate and grow his architectural style, while at the same time inspiring generations of architects to follow.

Our dataset this week includes several of Wright's iconic designs. Take an hour and see what you can do with the data. We'd love to see your work! Post it to Tableau Public, and Twitter tagging @TThrowbackThurs, and #ThrowbackThursday.

Data Source

The dataset this week was sourced from the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation's Website. Please be sure to cite the source on your viz

Data Notes

The information included in the dataset is taken from the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation's Website. It is inclusive of only the works included on the site, and does not include some of the works listed as designed by Frank Lloyd Wright on other sources like Wikipedia. I decided to stick to the Foundation's website to ensure a quality datasource. Having said that, there are some call outs to make on this dataset, particularly the Year column. The information in this column varies from the year designed to the year the structure was built. Due to this, I included a Design Time Period (gleaned from the site) in an effort to normalize the information.