Utilities Complete at Millstone Cottages
Between 1900 and 1901, Frank Lloyd Wright completed four houses which have since been identified as the onset of the “Prairie style”. Two, the Hickox and Bradley Houses, were the last transitional step between Wright’s early designs and the Prairie creations. Meanwhile, the Thomas House and Willits House received recognition as the first mature examples of the new style. At the same time, Wright gave his new ideas for the American house widespread awareness through two publications in the Ladies’ Home Journal.
Modern House Design
The articles were in response to an invitation from the president of Curtis Publishing Company, Edward Bok, as part of a project to improve modern house design. “A Home in a Prairie Town” and “A Small House with Lots of Room in it” appeared respectively in the February and July 1901 issues of the journal. Although neither of the affordable house plans was ever constructed, Wright received increased requests for similar designs in following years. Wright came to Buffalo and designed homes for three of the company’s executives including the Darwin D. Martin House in 1904.
Other Wright houses considered to be masterpieces of the Prairie Style are the Frederick Robie House in Chicago and the Avery and Queene Coonley House in Riverside, Illinois.
With this and other buildings, included in the publication of the Wasmuth Portfolio (1910), Wright’s work became known to European architects and had a profound influence on them after World War I. It is sometimes called the “cornerstone of modernism”.
Wright’s residential designs of this era were known as “prairie houses” because the designs complemented the land around Chicago. Prairie style houses often have a combination of these features: One or two-stories with one-story projections, an open floor plan, low-pitched roofs with broad overhanging eaves, strong horizontal lines, ribbons of windows (often casements), a prominent central chimney, built-in stylized cabinetry, and a wide use of natural materials—especially stone and wood.
Textile Concrete Blocks
In the early 1920s, Wright designed a “textile” concrete block system reinforced by an internal system of bars.
• Wright first used his textile block system on the John Storer House in Hollywood, California, in 1923.
• The house is now used in films, television, and print media to represent the future. Typically Wrightian is the joining of the structure to its site by a series of terraces that reach out into and reorder the landscape, making it an integral part of the architect’s vision.
• With the Ennis House and the Samuel Freeman House (both 1923), Wright had further opportunities to test the limits of the textile block system, including limited use in the Arizona Biltmore Hotel in 1927. Wright’s son, Lloyd Wright, supervised construction for the Storer, Freeman and Ennis Houses. Architectural historian Thomas Hines has suggested that Lloyd’s contribution to these projects is often overlooked.