If you aren’t familiar with the life and work of Frank Lloyd Wright, it’s time to find out more about the man that left a lasting impression on the world of architecture. To those that know him, he’s one of the greatest American architects of all time. If you’ve ever wondered where certain architectural styles come from, look no further than Frank Lloyd Wright. A remarkable career of over seven decades continuously lives on through his visionary lenses of creativity. Wright’s work can be found across the continental U.S., from California to New Jersey. Although he only completed four homes in the Garden State, these projects each uniquely capture everything that made Frank Lloyd Wright so revolutionary.
How Frank Lloyd Wright Changed Residential Architecture
Frank Lloyd Wright’s style of residential architecture is the basis for what many people consider to be modern homes. You can see the craftsmanship and futuristic design dating back to the Frank Lloyd Wright home and studio dating back to 1889. He is well-known for the Prairie Style homes that became popular between 1900 and 1920. Some of his popularity stems from the fact that his designs were in stark contrast to what was popular during that time, namely Victorian homes.
His non-conformist approach to home-building wasn’t immediately well received. One of the most vision-centered designs Frank Lloyd Wright brought to life was the concept of the connecting room, where rooms seamlessly integrated into each other. From designs that resembled Mayan architecture to introducing roof terraces, Frank set a standard for residential design we still embrace today.
Wright also introduced the open-concept blueprint that led to a rise in the popularity of homes with free-flowing rooms. While it was something different, new, and took some time to get accustomed to, the open concept is the hottest thing on the market centuries later.
The James B. Christie House
The James B. Christie House is a Frank Lloyd Wright legend. The oldest and largest dwelling he designed in New Jersey is a Usonian design built in 1940. The house is unique because it marries the outdoors and inside, relying on native materials. Interestingly, this home was designed in 1940, but today’s architecture is rooted in sustainability, using nature-based materials and outdoor kitchens and spaces.
An open-concept design with built-ins, the home has full-height glazed doors with natural light, another nod to bringing the outdoors in. In the original design, Wright had a primary bedroom suite extension, which the original owners did not want. In 2003, preservation specialists added the extension to an enclosed brick patio. Two thousand seven hundred square feet of fantastic design, complete with a two-car garage. This design, especially the interior, was a blueprint many custom home designers use today.
This home is located in Somerset County, New Jersey, and is a one-story home that sits on seven acres. Designed in an L-shape, it offers the best public and private space design options. Fun fact: James B. Christie was his very first New Jersey client. The home was sold for 1.45 million.
The Richardson House
The Richardson House is another Usonian home built in Glen Ridge, New Jersey, with a hexagonal floor plan. With three bedrooms and two bathrooms, the home was designed in 1941. One thousand eight hundred square feet, this design includes a heated in-ground pool. The uniqueness of this home speaks for itself, with all the rooms being 60 and 120-degree angles without right angles. Wright understood how much the owners loved music and nicknamed the property “Scherzo.”
The design looks like musical notations and features triangular recessed lighting, floor-to-ceiling windows, built-in cabinetry, and a triangular fireplace. It is one of three remaining homes designed by Wright in New Jersey. The home went up for sale in 2019 for $1.2 million. Located on a half-acre lot surrounded by woods, this property welcomes serenity.
The Sweeton House
This New Jersey property is in Cherry Hill of Camden County. The smallest of the four residential homes in the state is only 1,500 square feet. This is also a Usonian design constructed with redwood plywood and concrete blocks. One of the unique features of this home is the pitched roof that comes within four feet of the ground and the cantilevered carport that extends 20 feet.
In a horizontal plan, three bedrooms and one bathroom encapsulate a cathedral ceiling, with everything arranged on a linear axis. This private residence was purchased in 2008 by Dan Nichols, who is a huge fan of Wright’s work. He started restoring the property, which was inaccessible to the public. A few additional unique elements of the home include in-slab radiant heating in the red concrete floor and mitered glass corners in the window banks.
The Bachman-Wilson House
This Usonian design is the signature of Frank Lloyd Wright, who designed quality, affordable homes for middle-class families. This home was built in 1954 and ran along the Millstone River. Now a part of a museum, the house is open for tours to see the craftsmanship and design. The home’s original location was consistently threatened by flooding, so when it was acquired in 1988 by Lawrence and Sharon Tarantino, they relocated the house to preserve this example of iconic 1950s architecture.
This design is very mid-century modern, with Wright’s signature elongated design. The home has the perfect mix of art, nature, and design, encapsulating the outdoors. Traveling over 1,235 miles to its new location, the Bachman-Wilson home is now in Arkansas as of April 2014. Designed and built in New Jersey and now home in Arkansas, the beauty of this architectural design and integrity is shared with the general public. The new space has views overlooking native woods and springs.
To visit this museum for a self-guided experience, go to crystalbridges.org.
Design That Never Dies
Frank Lloyd Wright was a genius with an eye for modern design concepts. His work continues to build on the legacy of residential homebuilding, paying close attention to his innovative mindset. Today’s residential designs mirror the standard he set, whether it’s a condo, townhouse, luxury home, or community. It would not be easy to find a residential design that wasn’t influenced by the work of Frank Lloyd Wright in some way.
These New Jersey homes will forever be a testament to doing something different, even if it doesn’t align with the masses. Frank Lloyd Wright believed he could make an impact. In doing so, he revolutionized what we know as outstanding architectural design.