|WRIGHT'S OAK PARK STUDIO AS CONVERTED TO A LIVING ROOM AFTER 1911|
|WRIGHT'S STUDIO AS RESTORED IN THE 1980S|
Insights into Frank Lloyd Wright's working methods during the Prairie period (1900-1909) are rare and tend to materialize in little bursts from time to time. Among the best of these is a group of letters written by Charles E. White, Jr., a draftsman who had come to Wright's Oak Park studio around 1903, to his former employer, W. R. B. Willcox, in Vermont. White describes Wright's unit system in detail, in text and sketches, and pays particular attention to the Darwin D. Martin House in Buffalo, which was then being designed. [The letters were edited by Nancy K. Morris Smith and published in the Journal of Architectural Education in the fall of 1971]. This passage is from White's letter to Willcox of November 16th 1903:
"He [Wright] is certainly an impractical man -- is way behind in his work, but calmly takes seven weeks to alter his office, and lets the work wait. The Buffalo drawings are not even completed, and they are hammering him all the time. Promised the Montreal sketches for November fourth, and hasn't even started to think about them! It makes me nervous to think of the way he treats his clients, and yet he seems to get the work all the time."
A similar passage appears in a letter from William E. Martin in Oak Park to his brother, Darwin, in Buffalo, May 20, 1904:
"I called his office yesterday morning, and one of the draftsmen said that he had been working on the plans, and mailed them to you Thursday, but knew nothing about the brick. He said that when Mr. Wright returned from Buffalo, he threw the plans into the corner of the office, which, by the way, has been torn up from stem to stern for the last two weeks, -- and said nothing about any alterations..."
In Buffalo, Wright's erratic methods were subject to Darwin Martin's relentless" hammering," but C.E. White, jr., in the eye of the storm, got an answer from Wright himself and expressed it in a letter to Willcox of May 13th 1904:
"The studio is again torn up by the annual repairs and alterations. Twice a year, Mr. W. rearranges and changes the different rooms. He says he has gotten more education in experimenting on his own premises, than in any other way."
Wright's penchant for experimentation never ended and is best seen at Taliesin, in Spring Green Wisconsin, Wright's home and studio, built, rebuilt, and continuously expanded from 1911 to his death in 1959. Taliesin is currently under restoration --a task of staggering complexity -- by Taliesin Preservation, Inc.
|Plan of Taliesin (The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation)|