A Beautiful Visual Tour of Tirranna, One of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Remarkable, Final Creations

“When I first encoun­tered Wright’s work as an eight-year-old boy, it was the space and the light that got me all excit­ed,” says Stu­art Graff in the Archi­tec­tur­al Digest video above. “I now under­stand why that gives us the feel­ing that it does, why we feel dif­fer­ent in a Frank Lloyd Wright house. That’s because he uses space and light to cre­ate this sense of inti­ma­cy with the world around us.” As luck would have it, Graff has grown up to become pres­i­dent and CEO of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foun­da­tion, and it is in that capac­i­ty that he leads us through one of the renowned Amer­i­can archi­tec­t’s last projects, a 1955 house along the Noro­ton Riv­er in New Canaan, Con­necti­cut called Tir­ran­na.

“While Tir­ran­na was being built, Wright was in New York City work­ing on his largest com­mis­sion, the Guggen­heim Muse­um,” says Graff. Also known as the Rayward–Shepherd House, Tir­ran­na is cer­tain­ly less wide­ly known than the Guggen­heim, and indeed, less wide­ly known than some of Wright’s oth­er res­i­den­tial work.

But as his pri­vate hous­es go, Tiran­na’s “set­ting rivals even per­haps Wright’s most famous work, Falling­wa­ter, in the way that house engages nature.” Built along a curve that “fol­lows the move­ment of the sun through the day” and tex­tured with con­trast­ing con­crete block and Philip­pine mahogany — not to men­tion plen­ty of glass through which to take in the land­scape out­side — it stands as a rich exam­ple of late Wright.

And rich is what you’d bet­ter be if you want to live it: accord­ing to a notice pub­lished in Archi­tec­tur­al Digest, Tir­ran­na went on the mar­ket last year for an ask­ing price of $8 mil­lion. Its 7,000 square feet make it one of Wright’s “largest and most expan­sive res­i­den­tial projects”; the “low-slung main home is designed in a hemi­cy­cle style — a unique­ly Wright shape — and fea­tures sev­en bed­rooms, eight bath­rooms, a rooftop obser­va­to­ry, and a wine cel­lar that has been con­vert­ed into a bomb shel­ter.” It even boasts the dis­tinc­tion of Wright him­self hav­ing stayed there, dur­ing the time he was still work­ing on the Guggen­heim. For a deep-pock­et­ed enthu­si­ast of twen­ti­eth-cen­tu­ry Amer­i­can archi­tec­ture, there could hard­ly be a more intrigu­ing prospect in New Canaan — as least since the Glass House isn’t for sale.

Relat­ed con­tent:

Take a 360° Vir­tu­al Tours of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Archi­tec­tur­al Mas­ter­pieces, Tal­iesin & Tal­iesin West

A Vir­tu­al Tour of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Lost Japan­ese Mas­ter­piece, the Impe­r­i­al Hotel in Tokyo

What Frank Lloyd Wright’s Unusu­al Win­dows Tell Us About His Archi­tec­tur­al Genius

130+ Pho­tographs of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Mas­ter­piece Falling­wa­ter

The Unre­al­ized Projects of Frank Lloyd Wright Get Brought to Life with 3D Dig­i­tal Recon­struc­tions

When Frank Lloyd Wright Designed a Dog­house, His Small­est Archi­tec­tur­al Cre­ation (1956)

Based in Seoul, Col­in Marshall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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Comments (10)
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  • sharp designs, llc says:

    I’ve nev­er seen this house before in a video pre­sen­ta­tion. Just mar­velous… thank you ever so much for shar­ing this. Excel­lent nar­ra­tion and expla­na­tion of FLW’s mind­set and enjoy­ment of this set­ting! Won­der­ful pre­sen­ta­tion!

  • Michaela Cajvan says:

    Loved the quo­ta­tion “nature is the only body of god we see”. L💗VE FLW.

    So much enjoyed the walk along.
    Thank you!

  • Alfred Kaiser says:

    Inter­est­ing pre­sen­ta­tion par­tic­u­lar­ly enjoyed expla­na­tion of small scale details.

  • Cheryl Huffman says:

    I’ve seen Falling­wa­ter, which is beau­ti­ful! This sur­pass­es it in beau­ty, func­tion­al­i­ty and depth of FLW’s design(s). Is it open to the pub­lic? I live in Cal­i­for­nia but would trav­el to CT if it were open.

  • Billie Levert Hill says:

    Iam very inter­est­ed in becom­ing a mem­ber of the Frank Lloyd wright foun­da­tion as I am any and all things frank Loyd wright I am present­ly look­ing for a builder that I feel has the vision to do the mas­ters vision the respect and jus­tice in my last per­son­al build I sim­ply love his vision
    Look­ing for­ward to see­ing more and learn­ing all there is to learn and know
    Warmest Regards
    Bil­lie Lev­ert Hill

  • Saundra Spinelli says:

    Won­der­ful video on Frank Lloyd Wright’s Tirana. I lived in West Hert­ford for many years but was unaware of this home that gives Falling­wa­ter a run for its mon­ey.

  • Saundra Spinelli says:

    Won­der­ful video on Frank Lloyd Wright’s Tir­ran­na. I lived in West Hert­ford for many years but was unaware of this home that gives Falling­wa­ter a run for its mon­ey.

  • Douglas Korves AIA says:

    Please send me infor­ma­tion on Join­ing the FLW foun­da­tion

  • CJ says:

    Thank you so much for this! The way the home cap­tures nature and becomes one with­in the sur­round­ing is astound­ing. I tru­ly wish more home builders would put FLW’s per­spec­tive into their build­ing. I won­der what he would think about the mass pro­duc­tion of homes nowa­days.

  • Kenneth Miller says:

    So long ago I wrote the admin­is­tra­tion build­ing, and I list­ed many issues I was hav­ing. Well here’s update turns out I was some­what of a fool not to just real­ize that cer­tain aspects of the book like the col­or threads run­ning threw the pages and hold­ing it hor­i­zon­tal­ly and ver­ti­cal­ly like frank him­self liked to look at design and details, the way the words would pop off the page and in some cas­es change to the eye gave me a false sense of visions or orders. When in real­i­ty I had true visions just out­side of a book, but I believe and I am thank­ful for hav­ing it and look­ing at it because of how it opened up my life at that moment and I began to see things dif­fer­ent, I am sad to say that because of unfor­tu­nate events and hor­ri­ble advise it end­ed up burn­ing and I lost it, along with items that were actu­al­ly per­son­al­ized for me,like the three blue let­ters describ­ing how they seen the house I drew at the art insti­tute of phoenix, and how he didn’t agree with some of my find­ings in anoth­er area,etc. I know that some of the actu­al pen­cil draw­ings were in fact real because when I looked threw light
    you could see the change in the dark­ness and stroke it just showed threw in the way only a real draw­ing would , run off prints don’t look that way at all if they even show threw. Any way prob­lems have got­ten bet­ter in some cas­es and thank you for read­ing this.
    Respect­ful­ly yours,
    Ken­neth Miller
    The ONE
    P.S. If you can track down those orig­i­nal sets of prints that belonged to me from that spe­cif­ic book as I do believe my book was dif­fer­ent and lake coun­ty sher­iffs along with judge Judy Cantrells office did some­thing with them, and they didn’t get flood­ed in a tank they set bombs off in. I know this because they read my let­ters and even said key things about my let­ters in court so there­fore they weren’t flood­ed.

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