Prairie Style Architecture

 Frank Lloyd Wright's Robie House, built in 1909 in Chicago, is considered a masterpiece of Prairie School architecture. Photo:  https://flwright.org/visit/robiehouse

Frank Lloyd Wright's Robie House, built in 1909 in Chicago, is considered a masterpiece of Prairie School architecture. Photo: https://flwright.org/visit/robiehouse

Prairie School architecture developed as a consciously and authentically American design style in the late 19th and early 20th century, with roots in Chicago and the Midwest. Pioneered by young designers including Louis H. Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright, the style was concerned with solid, sincere craftsmanship and a harmonious integration with nature, created by echoing the landscape with horizontal and organic lines.

The mother art is architecture. Without an architecture of our own we have no soul of our own civilization.
— Frank Lloyd Wright

Although singularly American, Prairie style does share many of the design philosophies and ideals of the Arts & Crafts movement, including a focus on simplicity and handcrafting as a reaction against mass production and assembly lines. Prairie homes are intentionally wide and low to reflect the American landscape, which was viewed as more open and undeveloped compared to the crowded European cities. Wright and his contemporaries wanted it to feel as though the home grew from its environment naturally.

 Prairie style features:   - Strong horizontal emphasis, goal of integrating the home with nature in an organic manner    - Prominent central chimney    - Clerestory windows for natural light, and casement windows arranged in bands    - Stylized, built-in cabinetry    - Leaded or nature themed stained glass windows    - Open floor plans with airy flow    - Widespread use of natural stone and local wood    - Ranch style is common, as are two-story homes with single story wings

Prairie style features:

- Strong horizontal emphasis, goal of integrating the home with nature in an organic manner

- Prominent central chimney

- Clerestory windows for natural light, and casement windows arranged in bands

- Stylized, built-in cabinetry

- Leaded or nature themed stained glass windows

- Open floor plans with airy flow

- Widespread use of natural stone and local wood

- Ranch style is common, as are two-story homes with single story wings

No house should ever be on a hill or on anything. It should be of the hill. Belonging to it. Hill and house should live together each the happier for the other.
— Frank Lloyd Wright

This style features flat or hipped roofs with broad, overhanging eaves and windows assembled in horizontal bands. Interiors reflect the same principles, with earthy color palettes, along with fixtures and furniture that are often custom crafted. Prairie homes evoke a sense of peace and tranquility, with open floor plans and plenty of natural light. Ornamentation is minimal and thoughtful, with leaded windows and stained glass featuring geometric nature motifs of, for example, stalks of wheat, wildflowers, or trees. In taking its cues from nature, the Prairie home is effortlessly timeless and balanced, and this style translates beautifully to any era.