After Frank Lloyd Wright died in 1959, an obituary described him as “the great radical of American architecture.”
During his lifetime, Wright condemned the “lust for ugliness” he saw in the sky-scraping landscapes and boxed suburban sprawls of the United States. “Mr. Wright scathingly condemned the topless towers of New York,” the obituary reads. “He had no use for the great steel and stone cities.” He didn’t care for American “box” houses, either, declaring them “more of a coffin for the human spirit than an inspiration.”
Instead, Wright preferred the low, integrated structures of a style dubbed “prairie architecture,” a term the famously arrogant artist would later reject. His organic, functional and mostly modest aesthetic would come to define the concrete office buildings and family homes he’s left scattered across the country. One-hundred and fifty years after Wright’s birth in Wisconsin, the Museum of Modern Art in New York City is paying tribute to this Midwestern brand of radical art by showcasing more than 400 of Wright’s designs.
According to estimates, Wright produced over 1,171 architectural works during the course of his tumultuous career, of which 511 were built ― an astounding feat for an architect whose life was upended at various points by death, destruction, financial ruin and his own reckless behavior. Today, the man who began his career as a draftsman in Chicago, Illinois, is well associated with homes like Fallingwater and behemoth spaces like New York’s Guggenheim Museum. But MoMA’s scope is bigger, drawing attention to seven decades worth of his architectural drawings, models and building fragments, as well as his furniture, tableware, textiles, paintings, photos and scrapbooks, some never seen before.
In honor of Wright’s 150th birthday, we’ve put together a digital tour of 20 of his greatest American works, filled with sketches and archival images of some of his most revered designs. If you can’t make it to MoMA’s exhibition, you can celebrate one of America’s greatest architects here.
Winslow House (River Forest, Illinois)
Darwin Martin House (Buffalo, New York)
Unity Temple (Oak Park, Illinois)
Fallingwater/Kaufmann House (Mill Run, Pennsylvania)
Ennis House (Los Angeles, California)
Jacobs House (Madison, Wisconsin)
Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church (Wauwatosa, Wisconsin)
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (New York, New York)
Robie House (Chicago, Illinois)
Hollyhock House (Los Angeles, California)
Arthur Heurtley House (Oak Park, Illinois)
Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio (Oak Park, Illinois)
F. F. Tomek House (Riverside, Illinois)
Taliesin East (Spring Green, Wisconsin)
Taliesin West (Scottsdale, Arizona)
Pope-Leighey House (Alexandria, Virginia)
Price Tower (Bartlesville, Oklahoma)
Dana-Thomas House (Springfield, Illinois)
Wingspread (Wind Point, Wisconsin)
Rosenbaum House (Florence, Alabama)
”Frank Lloyd Wright at 150: Unpacking the Archive” is on view at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City from June 12 to October 1.