Graders study Frank Lloyd Wright and create stain glass artwork
Every civilization is partly defined and recognized by its architecture, and throughout history individual architects have contributed largely to the quality of life within their own societies. Frank Lloyd Wright was probably the most significant native-born American architect of the 20th century.
Frank Lloyd Wright was born on June 8, 1867, in Wisconsin. His mother covered the walls of the nursery with pictures of architecture to encourage him in this pursuit. Wright designed a total of more than 1000 buildings and 600 were constructed. His Prairie House designs are seen mainly in the Chicago area and into Wisconsin. He believed that a structure should be in harmony with its natural surroundings. He even built a house around a tree so the tree would not be cut down. He always incorporated Earth, Wind, Fire and Water into his designs.
His eye for details extended not only to the structure but also to the furniture and the windows. He was a genius in designing stain glass windows for each structure. Wright despised artificial light, so he took advantage of natural lighting – even moon lighting to give each room character. The 8th graders were in awe of his talent and how nature and geometry were uniquely combined in each building. They also were very disturbed when they found out that over ½ of his structures have been torn down. The Imperial Hotel for example was built to house the guests of the Emperor and the design was to be earthquake proof. Wright saw that it was as the hotel survived the massive earthquake in 1923. The hotel was torn down in 1969 for a more “modern hotel”.
The 8th Grade Pre-Algebra classes at Prairie Middle School researched some of Wright’s most famous structures: Taliesin West (Arizona), The Imperial Hotel (Tokyo), The Robie House (Chicago), The Hollyhock House (California), The Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church (Wisconsin), The Hanna House (California), and Falling Water (Pennsylvania). The students designed houses on a website from the Wright Foundation. Here the student put in walls, furniture and lighting as well as landscaped the area. The students found this to be exciting work that demands an eye for details. The students also colored velum reproductions of Wright’s windows. For a final project the students were able to get a glimpse into Wright’s famous stain glass windows by designing their own stain glass artwork. Shirley Stark and Terri Duman came to the middle school to teach the students how to design stain glass sun catchers. The students picked geometric pieces of glass that were precut and ground. Once their designed was complete they learned how to wrap the glass in copper foiling and using the solder irons tin the edges. The next day the students took their pieces and solder them together to complete the project. The students were amazed at how many different designs they could create using basic geometric shapes.
From the time Wright started designing until the day he died (April 9, 1959) his buildings set a precedent. We can only image how homes would appear today if he had not chosen the career his mother led him towards.