"His Unique Vision"
Frank Lloyd Wright
began his career in
He believed that
buildings should grow
out of their environment,
a feature that he called
the Prairie School
and the concept of
He also learned that
roofs are exposed to
wind and water -- even
snow in some areas -- and
must handle them effectively.
So the flat roofs of his early career
gave way to graceful slopes in
the south and mountainous peaks
in the north to shed the snow.
Wright pursued his unique vision
for urban planning in America through
communities in Broadacre City and
Pleasantville, for which he designed
homes, schools, office buildings,
churches, hotels, and other structures.
He used many modern materials
to good effect, such as textile blocks,
a type of patterned concrete that
could make excellent terraces.
He also provided interior elements
such as furniture and clothing.
This led to increasing complaints
from customers about the lack
of comfort in those furnishings.
Disgruntled by negative feedback,
Wright studied anatomy and ergonomics
to improve the appeal of his designs.
Chairs became less angular,
more flowing, well padded with
cushions whose tapestry fabric
matched his iconic window designs.
With these new improvements,
Wright's planned communities
began to spread and multiply.
When the Laurent family
contacted him to design a home
suitable for wheelchair use,
he seized the opportunity
to explore accessible design.
It became the first one-story building
to use a hemicycle shape, its sleek curve
making navigation easy and encompassing
a long wall of curved glass on the northwest.
Bigger bathrooms and wider doors allowed
more room to maneuver inside the house.
Spurred by this success, Wright
drafted more designs for people
with different disabilities, doing away
with the ugly ramps and bars that had
plagued previous constructions for them.
Instead he used organic architecture
to integrate ramps of brick or textile block
with the landscape, their smooth curves
uniting nature with technology.
The military approached him, and
soon Wright was contracted to create
a series of household blueprints for
the Specially Adapted Housing program.
A community of disabled veterans
in Frank Lloyd Wright homes began
to grow around the Laurent House.
He died not long after that in 1959,
but his unique vision lived on.
* * *
Frank Lloyd Wright (June 8, 1867 – April 9, 1959) was a famous architect. Among his inventions was the "textile block," a system of concrete blocks reinforced by internal bars, often with a decorative pattern on the front face. He drew much inspiration from nature and aimed to merge buildings with their surrounding landscape. However, sometimes he failed to consider the practicalities of physics, biologies, and other sciences as they intersected with art.
Usonia refers to the United States in general, and some of Wright's homes in particular. The Usonia Historic District is a planned community in Pleasantville, New York included several of his designs.
Wright designed many stained glass windows, characterized by organic inspiration, geometric shapes, and large areas of clear glass accented by a few colored sections.
The Kenneth and Phyllis Laurent House is a wheelchair-accessible house of Usonian style in Rockford, Illinois. In local-America, it was the only house that Wright created for a client with a physical disability.
Accessible architecture caters to the needs of people with disabilities. Here are some examples. However, beware of "universal design," which falsely purports to serve everyone's needs; this is impossible as many people have conflicting needs. For example, open floor plans are good for people in wheelchairs, Deaf people, and young families whose children need lots of supervision; they're bad for blind people and older families or large households who need more privacy. Among the more dangerous examples in local-America is the use of raised bumps on curbcuts; demanded by blind people, they make the curbcuts difficult or impossible to use with electric wheelchairs, worsen footing for everyone, and exacerbate injuries from falling on them. Good architecture always considers the needs of specific users, not abstract "average" users.