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Exploring Frank Lloyd Wright

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Frank Lloyd Wright is one of America’s most important architects whose famous homes, churches, and other structures dot the American landscape. And although many people may have studied him or read books about him, you can’t really capture the full essence of his designs until you step into them.

In Madison, WI you’ll find three captivating structures that fit the bill.

Unitarian Meeting House

Recognized as one of the most innovative examples of church architecture and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the historic Unitarian Meeting House was a Frank Lloyd Wright commissioned work by the First Unitarian Society of Madison.

The original structure—constructed of native limestone, copper, and glass, with a unique angular sanctuary and hall was completed in 1951. A major expansion in 2008 added a second, 500 seat auditorium and new community spaces.

Tours of this amazing facility take place year round and really provide visitors with another example of Wright’s life-long desire to have his designs influence how others feel and think, and to improve their lives. 

Monona Terrace Community Convention Center

Also offering tours which extol the meticulous and loving details Wright bestowed upon his original designs is the Monona Terrace Community Convention Center, which he designed in 1938.

Unfortunately he never lived to see it come to fruition, but it did (it was carried out by his understudies) in 1997 in this stunning, curvilinear, 250,000 square foot, architectural masterpiece that links the shore of Lake Monona with the State Capitol.

The highlight here is that the building spans 90 feet out and over the lake to capture its breathtaking views, and features Wright’s signature organic design which incorporates dramatic open spaces, circular forms and an expansive rooftop garden.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin

In Spring Green, Wisconsin—a suburb of Madison—you will find Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin.

Taliesin—which means “shining brow” in Welsh, Wright’s ancestry—is fittingly situated in the valley settled by Wright’s maternal family, and so named for the brow of a hill where the crown is open.

From the Visitor Center, guests are shuttled via bus about five minutes up the picturesque, meandering hills to the 600-acre estate which encompasses five Wright-designed structures—two of which are National Historic Landmarks—including the home he first designed for himself in 1911.

The guided tour is amazing, chock full of fascinating insights and little known tidbits about Wright’s vision, passion, family, and work. The main thing you really grasp here is his life-long desire to have his designs influence how others feel and think, and to improve their lives.

To say that no detail is overlooked would be an understatement, from the effects he wished to create with the various ceiling heights, to the unusual angles of the bedrooms and living spaces, to the tapestries used for the walls and floors. Also on site is a working architectural studio and dorms where students come from around the world to study and perfect their future architectural careers.

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