LETTER : Lloyd Wright was an architect for everyone Architect who captured public's imagination

Click to follow
The Independent Online
THE CAREER of Frank Lloyd Wright was extraordinary in many ways, not least for its longevity (he practised for more than 70 years), his prolific output (over 500 built designs), or the variety of clients who hired him. I have therefore to disagree with Tanya Harrod's assertion ("Prince of the prairie palace", Review, 7 May) that "his genius seems more relevant to America's merchant princes than to the common man".

It may be reasonable to characterise Wright's early clients as successful businessmen. However, during the decades that followed, his genius inspired many individuals of more modest means to pursue his services in domestic architecture. Indeed, a number of these people subsequently wrote of the great significance that the architect and his work had played in shaping their lives. Wright's aim was to create good architecture, regardless of the means available to achieve it.

In building a home, Wright's clients found that hundreds, even thousands, would come to see the project in progress. Most current owners of Wright houses would probably acknowledge that this interest continues.

The work of Le Corbusier, Gropius and Mies van der Rohe may have held the minds of academics and young practitioners in the period following the Second World War. However, all the evidence suggests that it was Wright who directly captured the imagination of the wider public. Today, hundreds of publications and thousands of devotees attest to the continuation of that phenomenom.

Wright's philosophy was indeed flawed. He was a manipulator of clients and an egotist. However, his ideas and his services were accessible to a broad constituency and if anyone deserves the accolade "architect to the common man", it must be him.

Philip Jones

London SW19