Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Prairie School Style

I've had to learn all sorts of stuff about residential architectural styles recently.

The picture is the Robie House in Chicago which is a very well known example of Frank Lloyd Wright's Prairie School style.

Turns out I like this style very much. Also turns out I am not alone.

Then I ran across one of those quizzes about what is your house style so I answered the questions as best I could. Couldn't really answer them because they were multiple choice and on several there were no choices that I would have chosen but I had to in order to proceed. For instance on choosing my favorite color there was no choice for white which is my favorite color so I chose blue because that's probably my next favorite. I almost chose gray but blue won out.

Anyway that test said I was definitely a ranch style house kind of guy. And I really can't much argue with that because I really do like ranch style homes. But the quiz didn't include prairie style.

What I like about the prairie style is the emphasis of the horizontal, the low sloped hip roofs, the windows and details, the wonderfully huge overhang, and the natural exteriors. I was interested to learn that inside the homes are open and flowing. That was a big deal at the time because so many houses were comprised of little rooms.

Wright believed that the inside of the house defined the outside as I understand it. The prairie style name comes from a plan by Wright that appeared in the 1901 Ladies Home Journal titled "A Home In A Prairie Town."

He wanted the houses to blend in with the flatness of the prairie terrain. That definitely fits our land.

Now what I do not like is the McMansion style which is also known as the Neoeclectic style. Another form of Neoeclectic is the Dallas style which is so common now around our area.

The photo is from Wikipedia and is actually kind of a moderate example compared to some I've seen in real life.

I really dislike all those steep, gable roofs. And I dislike the mixing of the different styles of facade material as well as the mixing of architectural styles.

In 1936 Wright developed another style that was called Usonian in the 1950's. It grew out of the Prairie style. I was interested in this and think I may have posted something before about it because my Dad actually built several houses of that style right after he returned from World War II. The Usonian style also was very horizontal but was designed to be very affordable.

Have to decide now what I am doing with all this information.


Staci said...

I believe there's a couple of homes in Woodward and more in Enid that resemble the "prairie school" style. I myself like the old turn-of-the-century 2-3 story white houses. One of these days!

rilera said...

I love the prairie style of Frank Lloyd Wright too. We have a few gas stations designed by him here in MN. One of my friends is a FLW fanatic.

dave said...

We have to admire Wright, even if his building leaked and were more spendy to maintain than to build.

Prairie style and Wright prairie are not exactly the same, but we are united in dislike of the macmansions that are everywhere.

Another peeve is when a wonderful old house is "remodeled" and the latest materials and exteriors are applied. After a few years they look like a comedy routine.

Wright's biggest contribution, I think, is that the building should look like it belonged where it stands.

flintysooner said...

Staci I hope you get that stately Victorian then.

Robyn I saw images of those gas station on the web.

Dave I couldn't have said anything better than what you wrote. There is a certain impracticality to Wright's designs and one of the worst is roofing. I found it interesting that he did not anticipate his buildings outliving the owners.

I'm just wondering if I can pull off a small development of some kind of modernized prairie homes though.

Really anything I do ends up being pioneering here.

rilera said...

I so agree with you about the McMansions. I've not seen one that is actually stunning to look at. I think they all look the same.