Revolutionary Design

Frank Lloyd Wright's Price Tower

Frank Lloyd Wright designed many radical buildings that changed the course of architectural history, and the Price Tower in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, one of only three skyscrapers completed by Wright, remains one his greatest masterworks. The organic references in the bold angular geometry and the dialogue of the materials of the Price Tower, re-interpret the earlier principles of Wright’s Arts and Crafts structures.  

Revolutionary moments in the history of architecture are often credited to artistic partnerships between forward-thinking clients and architects.  As the Price family begun to envision a modern corporate headquarters, Harold Price, Sr. first contacted Cliff May, the California based architect of his residence in Bartlesville. The family also reached out to noted modernist architect Bruce Goff, who recommended “if you really wanted the best architect, get Frank Lloyd Wright.” Goff knew the family and their modern spirit would find a kinship in Wright’s designs.  

Designed to “transcend function and be touched with poetic imagination,” Price Tower stands as Wright’s unique answer to tall building architecture and interior design.

As early as 1912, the concept of the skyscrapers emerged in Wright’s sketches, and Price Tower gave the architect the opportunity to revisit the Utopian designs begun for the towers at St. Mark’s-in-the-Bouwerie in 1927. Completed in 1956, the Price Tower epitomizes Frank Lloyd Wright’s deconstructed Prairie aesthetic and the stylized organic elements he championed. The floor plates are rotated on axis to provide the building with strict geometric structure, yet unexpected foundation.  In writing about the tower in its planning stages, Wright states,” its upper floors will command an unbroken view of all directions over eight hundred square miles of prairie and foothills.” Not only the sighting, but the richly patinated copper panels that dominate the exterior construction, synthesize the built environment with the natural surroundings. 

Designed to “transcend function and be touched with poetic imagination,” Price Tower stands as Wright’s unique answer to tall building architecture and interior design. The radical rhythmic linear motifs in the paneling and dramatic exterior louvers were further reflected in the bespoke furniture designed for the interior and, in typical Wright fashion, transcend any particular style. They are purely the unique artistic vision of their maker.

Frank Lloyd Wright

During his seventy year career as an architect, Frank Lloyd Wright created more than 1,100 designs, half of which were realized and a large portion of which came about later in his life. Wright was born in Richland Center, Wisconsin in 1867. He enrolled at the University of Wisconsin in 1885 to study civil engineering, completing only two years of the program. After working for Joseph Silsbee on the construction of the Unity Chapel in Oak Park, Illinois Wright decided to pursue a career in architecture and he moved to Chicago where he began an apprenticeship at the famed architectural firm Adler and Sullivan, working directly with Louis Sullivan until 1893.

After parting ways, Wright moved to Oak Park. Working from his home studio, he developed a system of design developed from grid units and rooted in an appreciation of natural materials that would come to be known as the Prairie School of Architecture and would change the landscape of American design forever. Wright devoted himself to teaching and writing during the 1920s and 1930s. 1935 marked the beginning of an immense surge of creativity and productivity as he began work on his most celebrated residential design, Fallingwater. In the 1940s and 1950s Wright focused on his Usonian designs that reflected his belief in democratic architecture, offering middle-class residential options. In 1943, Wright took on his most demanding commission, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York. The museum, which would open its doors six months after his death in 1959, would be called his most significant work.

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