American architect Frank Lloyd Wright designed buildings with verve, leaving behind a dense profile of sites that influenced modern American style. Working within the ideals of the Prairie School, he imagined houses that swept low the ground, mimicking the long, cutting expanses of the Midwest. In his later years, he curved architectural lines to create the cylindrical Guggenheim Museum, a crowning achievement recently placed on the UNESCO World Heritage list.
A delightful product of his prolific output is the sheer availability of homes and structures to visit. Dotted across the United States, Wright’s designs endure, with many offering tours and museum-like visits. Though these sites remain behind lock and key to the public during the COVID-19 pandemic, 12 of the architect’s creations are now available via virtual tours.
Earlier this month, the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy announced #WrightVirtualVisits. Presented in partnership with the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation and Unity Temple Restoration Foundation, the series will offer virtual tours of 12 Wright sites, which will each contribute new videos on their websites and social media accounts every Thursday at 1 p.m. The series will continue through July 9.
On Thursday, we look forward to sharing the next #WrightVirtualVisits, showing you the inside of the Gordon House – the only building in Oregon designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. The house was near destruction when a great effort to save the structure began.#WNYCulturalConnections pic.twitter.com/uBrcoTgshL
— Frank Lloyd Wright’s Martin House (@TheMartinHouse) April 22, 2020
Led by experts, the virtual visits share intimate details about some of Wright’s finest structures, including the iconic Fallingwater, Hollyhock House, Muirhead Farmhouse and more.
“It is precisely at this time, when so many are shut inside, that we need to experience beauty and inspiration,” the Conservancy said. “Wright’s works bring people together in harmony with the natural world, reminding us that we are all connected, even when we’re apart.”
View this post on Instagram
As we stay “Safer at Home” here in Los Angeles, Jeff Goodman @wrighttaliesin shares a look at the Garden Room, a space for living and entertaining at Wright’s winter home in Scottsdale, Arizona. Like Hollyhock House, it has a phenomenal fireplace that takes inspiration from the site and natural landscape. #WrightVirtualVisits @wrighttaliesin @culture_la @barnsdallpark
The series kicked off April 2. During the initial share, Malcolm Willey House in Minneapolis, Minnesota, took viewers inside of the property. In addition to relaying architectural features of note, the video gives a peek into the modern technology infused into the space during a “backstage part” of the tour. During the reveal, the home’s owner Steve Sikora rolled away a cabinet to disclose a small room holding the home’s air handler and security system.
“This space also houses our email server and what may or may not be the missing DNC server, I can’t honestly say,” Sikora quipped.
Most of the 12 participating sites will share new videos every Thursday, though some will do so only on a limited basis. Each of the videos is presented as a “swap,” establishing a playful repartee between the sites.
View this post on Instagram
Graycliff, standing on a bluff 65 feet above Lake Erie, was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright between 1926 and 1931 as a summer escape. Get a brief introduction to the layout of this amazing site in the latest of our #WrightVirtualVisits #StayHome #Architecture #Tours #FrankLloydWright
Rounding out the dozen properties are Beth Sholom Synagogue, Emil Bach House, Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy, Graycliff, Gordon House, Kraus House, Laurent House, Martin House, Monona Terrace, Samara, Seth Peterson Cottage, Taliesin, Taliesin West, Unity Temple and Westcott House.
While the tours are free, the Conservancy encourages viewers to “support your local sites and those of special significance to you” through donations, stating: “Your generosity is critical to ensure that they will be able to reopen and welcome visitors again when this is over.”
Britt Stigler is a digital content editor at ALL ARTS. She can be reached at StiglerB@thirteen.org or @bestigler.