Masters Thesis

An historical examination of shelter and refuge as prevailing principles in Frank Lloyd wright’s residential design

Early American architecture was primarily based on imitations of European design. Frank Lloyd Wright ushered in the first era of original American residential architecture based on his understanding that such imitation fell short of meeting the needs of modern America, for the borrowed styles did not correctly address the age-old design principles of shelter and refuge. Wright’s overwhelming success as a residential architect was due in large part to his ability to adapt those principles to modern and distinct American ideology and landscapes. This paper traces the prevailing origins and characteristics of pre-Wright American residential architecture, and examines why it was generally ill-suited for the young nation. It explains that emphasizing shelter and refuge as key design components allowed Wright to perfect his theory of organic architecture. His most enduring designs accentuate this theory, and it continues to influence American residential design.