What a genial looking chap – though I understand from his biographer that he was a complete rascal ! I spent a morning in Oak Park exploring the unique style of this architecture. His use of space and light and design are quite extraordinary.
I then discovered that one of his houses was on the doorstep to Brent House on Woodlawn Avenue:
The Robie House is one of the best known examples of Prairie style architecture, a style in whose creation and popularization Wright played a major role. The term was coined by architectural critics and historians (not by Wright) who noticed how the buildings and their various components (e.g. doors, windows, furniture, tapestries, etc.) owed their design influence to the landscape and plant life of the midwest prairie of the United States.
The building has a low-proportioned, horizontal profile which gives it the appearance of spreading out on the flat prairie land. Steel-framed cantilevered roof overhangs, continuous bands of art-glass windows and doors, and the use of natural materials are typical features called the Prairie Style which emphasizes this “horizonal line” of the building. A chimney mass containing the house’s four fireplaces rises through the center of the house acting as the anchor to which the house is designed around on all three levels.
The planter urns, copings, lintels, sills and other exterior trimwork are of Bedford limestone. The fireplaces and chimneys are constructed of the same brick and limestone as the exterior and have a sense of an artistic sculptural shape of their own as opposed to being a part of a wall. The design of the art glass windows and doors is a sharp-angled multicolored pattern whose geometry Wright also used for designs of tapestries inside the house and for gates in some of the porches and garden walls outside. The structural steel framing that support the cantilevered roof overhangs also creates interior spaces that are absent of posts, walls, and other typical obstructions which results in the open flowing interiors that symbolizes the openness of the American prairie.
Now – back to you – if you had the opportunity to build a house where would it be? What rooms would be important? How would you want to furnish it from scratch? Lets dream of a house thats made for us!!