Frank Lloyd Wright at the Guggenheim

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The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum by Frank Lloyd Wright

Many years went into designing the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum by Frank Lloyd Wright
Opened on October 21, 1959 Many years went into designing the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum by Frank Lloyd Wright. Photo © The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York

A 50th Anniversary Exhibition at the Guggenheim

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City partnered with the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation to present Frank Lloyd Wright: From Within Outward. On view from May 15 through August 23, 2009, the exhibition features more than 200 original Frank Lloyd Wright drawings, many of which have never before been exhibited, as well as photographs, models, and digital animations for 64 Frank Lloyd Wright projects, including designs that were never constructed.

Frank Lloyd Wright: From Within Outward commemorates the fiftieth anniversary of the Guggenheim Museum that Wright designed. The Guggenheim opened on October 21, 1959, six months after Frank Lloyd Wright died.

Frank Lloyd Wright spent fifteen years designing the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. He died 6 months after the Museum opened.

Learn about the Guggenheim Museum:

Frank Lloyd Wright® and Taliesin® are registered trademarks of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation.

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Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum by Frank Lloyd Wright

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum rendered in ink and pencil on tracing paper, by Frank Lloyd Wright
From the Guggenheim Museum 50th Anniversary Frank Lloyd Wright Exhibition The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum rendered in ink and pencil on tracing paper, by Frank Lloyd Wright. This rendering was part of a 2009 exhibition at the Guggenheim. 20 x 24 inches. FLLW FDN # 4305.745 © 2009 The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, Scottsdale, Arizona

In Frank Lloyd Wright's earliest drawings of the Guggenheim, the exterior walls were red or orange marble with verdigris copper banding on the top and bottom. When the museum was built, the color was a more subtle brownish yellow. Over the years, the walls were repainted an almost white shade of gray. During recent restorations, preservationists have asked which colors would be most appropriate.

Up to eleven layers of paint were stripped, and scientists used electron microscopes and infrared spectroscopes to analyze each layer. Eventually, the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission decided to keep the museum white. Critics complained that Frank Lloyd Wright would have chosen bolder hues.

Learn more about The Guggenheim Museum:

Frank Lloyd Wright® and Taliesin® are registered trademarks of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation.

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Guggenheim Reception Drawing by Frank Lloyd Wright

Guggenheim Reception Drawing by Frank Lloyd Wright
From the Guggenheim Museum 50th Anniversary Frank Lloyd Wright Exhibition "The Reception" is one of many drawings Frank Lloyd Wright made while designing the Guggenheim Museum in New York. Graphite pencil and colored pencil on paper. 29 1/8 x 38 3/4 inches. FLLW FDN # 4305.092 © 2009 The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, Scottsdale, Arizona

Drawings and architectural renderings by Frank Lloyd Wright reveal his pioneering concepts of space. This drawing, made with graphite pencil and colored pencil, illustrates Frank Lloyd Wright's plan for spiraling ramps inside the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. Wright wanted visitors to discover artwork gradually as they slowly moved up the ramps.

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Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum by Frank Lloyd Wright

The Masterpiece, a Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum drawing by Frank Lloyd Wright
From the Guggenheim Museum 50th Anniversary Frank Lloyd Wright Exhibition The Masterpiece, a Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum drawing by Frank Lloyd Wright. Graphite pencil and color pencil on paper. 35 x 40 3/8 inches (88.9 x 102.6 cm). FLLW FDN #4305.010 © The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, Scottsdale, Arizona

Through his sketches and drawings, Frank Lloyd Wright illustrated how the new Guggenheim Museum in New York would transform the way visitors experienced art.

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Marin County Civic Center by Frank Lloyd Wright

Marin County Civic Center in San Rafael, California by Frank Lloyd Wright
From the Guggenheim Museum 50th Anniversary Frank Lloyd Wright Exhibition The Marin County Civic Center in San Rafael, California was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1957–62. This photo of the main entrance of the administration building was part of a 2009 exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum. Photograph by Ezra Stoller © Esto

Designed at the same time as the Guggenheim Museum, the curving Marin County Civic buildings echo the surrounding landscape.

The Marin County Civic Center in San Rafael, California, was the last commission for Frank Lloyd Wright, and it was not completed until after his death.

Frank Lloyd Wright Wrote:
"We will never have a culture of our own until we have an architecture of our own. An architecture of our own does not mean something that is ours by the way of our own tastes. It is something that we have knowledge concerning. We will have it only when we know what constitutes a good building and when we know that the good building is not one that hurts the landscape, but is one that makes the landscape more beautiful than it was before that building was built. In Marin County you have one of the most beautiful landscapes I have seen, and I am proud to make the buildings of this County characteristic of the beauty of the County.

Here is a crucial opportunity to open the eyes not of Marin County alone, but of the entire country, to what officials gathering together might themselves do to broaden and beautify human lives."

— From Frank Lloyd Wright: The Guggenheim Correspondence, Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer, editor

Learn More About the Marin County Civic Center:

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Fair Pavilion for the Marin County Civic Center by Frank Lloyd Wright

Fair Pavilion for the Marin County Civic Center
From the Guggenheim Museum 50th Anniversary Frank Lloyd Wright Exhibition Frank Lloyd Wright's design for a Fair Pavilion at the Marin County Civic Center in San Rafael, California, 1957. This perspective was part of the 2009 exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum. Colored pencil and ink on paper. 36 x 53 3/8 inches. FLLW FDN # 5754.004 © 2009 The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, Scottsdale, Arizona

Frank Lloyd Wright's original plans for the Marin County Civic Center included an open air pavilion for special events.

Wright's vision was never realized, but in 2005 the Marin Center Renaissance Partnership (MCRP) published a master plan for Marin County that provided for constructing the pavilion.

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Gordon Strong Automobile Objective and Planetarium by Frank Lloyd Wright

Gordon Strong Automobile Objective and Planetarium in Sugarloaf Mountain, Maryland
From the Guggenheim Museum 50th Anniversary Frank Lloyd Wright Exhibition Gordon Strong Automobile Objective and Planetarium in Sugarloaf Mountain, Maryland was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1924–25. This perspective was part of a 2009 exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum. Colored pencil on tracing paper, 20 x 31 inches. FLLW FDN # 2505.039 © 2009 The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, Scottsdale, Arizona

In 1924, wealthy businessman Gordon Strong met with Frank Lloyd Wright to propose an ambitious scheme: On the top of Sugar Loaf Mountain in Maryland, build a scenic overlook that would "serve as an objective for short motor trips," especially from nearby Washington DC and Baltimore.

Gordon Strong wanted the building to be an impressive monument that would enhance visitors' enjoyment of the natural landscape. He even suggested that Wright place a dance hall at the center of the structure.

Frank Lloyd Wright began to sketch a spiralling roadway that mimicked the shape of the mountain. Instead of a dance hall, he placed a theater at the center. As plans progressed, the Automobile Objective turned into a great dome with a planetarium, surrounded by a ring-shaped natural history museum.

Gordon Strong rejected Frank Lloyd Wright's plans and the Automobile Objective was never built. However, Frank Lloyd Wright continued to work with hemicycle forms, which inspired the design of the Guggenheim Museum and other projects.

See more plans and sketches at the Library of Congress:
Gordon Strong Automobile Objective

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Gordon Strong Automobile Objective and Planetarium by Frank Lloyd Wright

Gordon Strong Automobile Objective and Planetarium
From the Guggenheim Museum 50th Anniversary Frank Lloyd Wright Exhibition Gordon Strong Automobile Objective and Planetarium in Sugarloaf Mountain, Maryland was a scenic overlook designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1924–25. This ink drawing was part of a 2009 exhibit at the Guggenheim Museum. 17 x 35 7/8 inches. FLLW FDN # 2505.067 © 2009 The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, Scottsdale, Arizona

Although wealthy businessman Gordon Strong eventually rejected Frank Lloyd Wright's plans for his Automobile Objective, the project inspired Wright to explore complex circular forms. The structure was intended to serve as a tourist destination on the peak of Sugarloaf Mountain in Maryland.

Wright envisioned a spiralling road that formed the shell of a dome-shaped building. In this version of the project, the dome housed a planetarium surrounded by exhibit space for natural history displays.

See more plans and sketches at the Library of Congress:
Gordon Strong Automobile Objective

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First Herbert Jacobs House by Frank Lloyd Wright

Frank Lloyd Wright designed two homes for Herbert and Katherine Jacobs. The the First Jacobs House was built in 1936-1937 and introduced Wright's concept of Usonian architecture. The brick and wood construction and glass curtain walls suggested simplicity and harmony with nature.

Frank Lloyd Wright's later Usonian houses became more complex, but the First Jacobs House is considered Wright's most pure example of Usonian ideas.

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First Herbert Jacobs House by Frank Lloyd Wright

Herbert Jacobs House in Madison, Wisconsin, interior view
From the Guggenheim Museum 50th Anniversary Frank Lloyd Wright Exhibition The Herbert Jacobs House in Madison, Wisconsin was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1936–37. This interior photo was part of a 2009 exhibition at the Guggenheim. FLLW FDN # 3702.0027. Photo by Larry Cuneo © 2009 The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, Scottsdale, AZ

The first of two houses that Frank Lloyd Wright designed for Herbert and Katherine Jacobs has an open, L-shaped floor plan with connecting living and dining areas. Wright designed and built the First Jacobs house in 1936-1937, but he designed the dining room tables much earlier, in about 1920. The long oak dining table and the built-in bench were especially designed for this house.

The First Jacobs house was Frank Lloyd Wright's first, and possibly most pure, example of Usonian architecture.

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Steel Cathedral by Frank Lloyd Wright

Steel Cathedral for a Million People by Frank Lloyd Wright - Elevation Drawing
From the Guggenheim Museum 50th Anniversary Frank Lloyd Wright Exhibition The Steel Cathedral for a Million People was one of Frank Lloyd Wright's great unbuilt projects. This 1926 drawing was featured in the 2009 exhibit at the Guggenheim Museum. Graphite pencil and colored pencil on paper. 22 5/8 x 30 inches. FLLW FDN # 2602.003 © 2009 The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, Scottsdale, Arizona

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Steel Cathedral by Frank Lloyd Wright

Steel Cathedral Plan by Frank Lloyd Wright
From the Guggenheim Museum 50th Anniversary Frank Lloyd Wright Exhibition The Steel Cathedral for a Million People was one of Frank Lloyd Wright's great unbuilt projects. This 1926 plan was featured in the 2009 exhibit at the Guggenheim Museum. Graphite pencil and colored pencil on paper. 23 7/16 x 31 inches. FLLW FDN # 2602.002 © 2009 The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, Scottsdale, Arizona

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Cloverleaf Quadruple Housing by Frank Lloyd Wright

Cloverleaf Quadruple Housing in Pittsfield, Massachusetts was a 1942 project by Frank Lloyd Wright.
From the Guggenheim Museum 50th Anniversary Frank Lloyd Wright Exhibition Cloverleaf Quadruple Housing in Pittsfield, Massachusetts was a 1942 project by Frank Lloyd Wright. This interior perspective was part of a 2009 exhibition at the Guggenheim. 28 1/8 x 34 3/4 inches, pencil, colored pencil, and ink on paper. FLLW FDN # 4203.008 © 2009 The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, Scottsdale, Arizona

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Cloverleaf Quadruple Housing by Frank Lloyd Wright

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Larkin Company Administration Building by Frank Lloyd Wright

Larkin Company Administration Building in Buffalo, NY
From the Guggenheim Museum 50th Anniversary Frank Lloyd Wright Exhibition This exterior view of the Larkin Company Administration Building in Buffalo, NY was part of a 2009 exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum. Frank Lloyd Wright worked on the building between 1902 and 1906. It is was demolished in 1950. 18 x 26 inches. FLLW FDN # 0403.0030 © 2009 The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, Scottsdale, Arizona

Built in the early 1900s, the Larkin Administration Building in Buffalo, New York was one of the few large public buildings designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. The Larkin Building was modern for its time with conveniences like air conditioning.

Tragically, the Larkin Company struggled financially and the building fell into disrepair. For awhile the office building was used as a store for Larkin products. Then, in 1950 when Frank Lloyd Wright was 83, the Larkin Building was demolished.

See a Frank Lloyd Wright rendering for the Larkin Building: Larkin Building Interior Courtyard

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The Larkin Building by Frank Lloyd Wright

Frank Lloyd Wright worked on the Larkin Building between 1902 and 1906.
From the Guggenheim Museum 50th Anniversary Frank Lloyd Wright Exhibition This print of the interior court of the Larkin Company Administration Building in Buffalo, NY was part of a 2009 exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum. Frank Lloyd Wright worked on the building from 1902 to 1906. It was demolished in 1950. 18 x 26 inches. FLLW FDN # 0403.164 © 2009 The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, Scottsdale, Arizona

When Frank Lloyd Wright designed the Larkin Company Administration Building, his contemporaries in Europe were laying the foundation for the Bauhaus movement with stark, boxlike buildings. Wright took a different approach, opening up corners and using walls merely as screens to enclose interior spaces.

See an exterior view of the Larkin Building

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Mile High Illinois by Frank Lloyd Wright

Mile High Illinois by Frank Lloyd Wright
From the Guggenheim Museum 50th Anniversary Frank Lloyd Wright Exhibition In 1956, Frank Lloyd Wright proposed a Chicago project called Mile High Illinois, Illinois Sky-City, or The Illinois. This rendering was presented at the 2009 Frank Lloyd Wright exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum. Courtesy Harvard University Graduate School of Design, Allen Sayegh, with Justin Chen and John Pugh

Frank Lloyd Wright's utopian vision for urban living was never realized. This rendering of Mile High Illinois was designed by a team of students from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design Interactive Spaces course taught by Allen Sayegh. In this view, an open terrace overlooks Lake Michigan.

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Mile High Illinois Landing Pad by Frank Lloyd Wright

Mile High Illinois Landing Pad by Frank Lloyd Wright
From the Guggenheim Museum 50th Anniversary Frank Lloyd Wright Exhibition In 1956, Frank Lloyd Wright proposed a Chicago project called Mile High Illinois, Illinois Sky-City, or The Illinois. This rendering of the taxi-copters landing pads was created for the 2009 Frank Lloyd Wright exhibit at the Guggenheim Museum. Courtesy Harvard University Graduate School of Design, Allen Sayegh, with Justin Chen and John Pugh

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Unity Temple by Frank Lloyd Wright

Unity Temple Drawing by Frank Lloyd Wright
From the Guggenheim Museum 50th Anniversary Frank Lloyd Wright Exhibition Frank Lloyd Wright experimented with concrete construction for Unity Temple in Oak Park, Illinois, built 1905–08. This drawing was featured in a 2009 exhibit at the Guggenheim Museum. Ink and watercolor on art paper. 11 1/2 x 25 inches. FLLW FDN # 0611.003 © 2009 The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, Scottsdale, Arizona

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Unity Temple by Frank Lloyd Wright

Unity Temple Interior by Frank Lloyd Wright
From the Guggenheim Museum 50th Anniversary Frank Lloyd Wright Exhibition Built in 1905–08, Unity Temple in Oak Park, Illinois shows Frank Lloyd Wright's early use of open space. This photo of the church interior was featured in a 2009 exhibit at the Guggenheim Museum. Photograph by David Heald © The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York

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Imperial Hotel by Frank Lloyd Wright

Exterior View of Frank Lloyd Wright's Imperial Hotel in Tokyo
From the Guggenheim Museum 50th Anniversary Frank Lloyd Wright Exhibition Frank Lloyd Wright designed the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo between 1913–22. The hotel was later demolished. This exterior view was part of a 2009 exhibition at the Guggenheim. Photograph © Hulton Archive/Stringer/Getty Images

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Imperial Hotel by Frank Lloyd Wright

Frank Lloyd Wright designed the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo between 1913–22
From the Guggenheim Museum 50th Anniversary Frank Lloyd Wright Exhibition Frank Lloyd Wright designed the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo between 1913–22. The hotel was later demolished. This view of the promenade was part of a 2009 exhibition at the Guggenheim. FLLW FDN # 1509.0101 © 2009 The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, Scottsdale, Arizona

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Huntington Hartford Resort by Frank Lloyd Wright

Frank Lloyd Wright designed the Huntington Hartford Sports Club and Play Resort in 1947
From the Guggenheim Museum 50th Anniversary Frank Lloyd Wright Exhibition Frank Lloyd Wright designed the Huntington Hartford Sports Club and Play Resort in 1947, but it was never built. This model was part of a 2009 exhibition at the Guggenheim. Model designed and fabricated by Situ Studio, Brooklyn, 2009. Photo: David Heald

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Arizona State Capitol by Frank Lloyd Wright

Arizona State Capitol,
From the Guggenheim Museum 50th Anniversary Frank Lloyd Wright Exhibition Arizona State Capitol, "Oasis," is an unbuilt project by Frank Lloyd Wright, 1957. The drawing was featured at the Guggenheim during their 2009 exhibition, Frank Lloyd Wright: From Within Outward. Courtesy Harvard University Graduate School of Design, Allen Sayegh with Shelby Doyle and Vivien Liu