Inside the Beautiful Home Frank Lloyd Wright Designed for His Son (1952)

Being Frank Lloyd Wright’s son sure­ly came with its down­sides. But one of the upsides — assum­ing you could stay in the mer­cu­r­ial mas­ter’s good graces — was the pos­si­bil­i­ty of his design­ing a house for you. Such was the for­tune of his fourth child David Samuel Wright, a Phoenix build­ing-prod­ucts rep­re­sen­ta­tive well into mid­dle age him­self when he got his own Wright house. It must have been worth the wait, giv­en that he and his wife lived there until their deaths at age 102 and 104, respec­tive­ly. Not long there­after, the sold-off David and Gladys Wright House faced the prospect of immi­nent demo­li­tion, but it ulti­mate­ly sur­vived long enough to be added to the Nation­al Reg­is­ter of His­toric Places in 2022.

Giv­en that its cur­rent own­ers include restora­tion-mind­ed for­mer archi­tec­tur­al appren­tices Tal­iesin West, the David and Gladys Wright House would now seem to have a secure future. To get a sense of what makes it worth pre­serv­ing, have a look at this new tour video from Archi­tec­tur­al Digest led — like the AD video on Wright’s Tir­ran­na pre­vi­ous­ly fea­tured here on Open Cul­ture — by Frank Lloyd Wright Foun­da­tion pres­i­dent and CEO Stu­art Graff. He first empha­sizes the house­’s most con­spic­u­ous fea­ture, its spi­ral shape that brings to mind (and actu­al­ly pre­dat­ed) Wright’s design for the Solomon R. Guggen­heim Muse­um.

Here, Graff explains, “the spi­ral real­ly takes on a unique sense of longevi­ty as it moves from one gen­er­a­tion, father, to the next gen­er­a­tion, son — and even today, as it moves between father and daugh­ter work­ing on this restora­tion.” That father and daugh­ter are Bing and Aman­da Hu, who have tak­en on the job of cor­rect­ing the years and years of less-than-opti­mal main­te­nance inflict­ed on this house on which Wright, char­ac­ter­is­ti­cal­ly, spared lit­tle expense or atten­tion to detail. Every­thing in it is cus­tom made, from the Philip­pine mahogany ceil­ings to the doors and trash cans to the con­crete blocks that make up the exte­ri­or walls.

“David Wright worked for the Bess­er Man­u­fac­tur­ing Com­pa­ny, and they made con­crete block molds,” says Graff. “David insist­ed that his com­pa­ny’s molds and con­crete block be used for the con­struc­tion and design of this house.” That was­n’t the only aspect on which the younger Wright had input; at one point, he even dared to ask, “Dad, can the house be only 90 per­cent Frank Lloyd Wright, and ten per­cent David and Gladys Wright?” Wright’s response: “You’re mak­ing your poor old father tired.” Yet he did, ulti­mate­ly, incor­po­rate his son’s requests into the design — under­stand­ing, as Bing Hu also must, that fil­ial piety is a two-way street.

Relat­ed con­tent:

12 Famous Frank Lloyd Wright Hous­es Offer Vir­tu­al Tours: Hol­ly­hock House, Tal­iesin West, Falling­wa­ter & More

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

130+ Pho­tographs of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Mas­ter­piece Falling­wa­ter

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

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

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.

by | Permalink | Comments (2) |

Sup­port Open Cul­ture

We’re hop­ing to rely on our loy­al read­ers rather than errat­ic ads. To sup­port Open Cul­ture’s edu­ca­tion­al mis­sion, please con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion. We accept Pay­Pal, Ven­mo (@openculture), Patre­on and Cryp­to! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Comments (2)
You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.
  • Mitch says:

    The very first thing I said to myself… Where’s the pool? Amaz­ing restora­tion, but would have been com­plete had the pool been restored as well.

  • Maximo Gomez says:

    The new Archi­tec­tur­al wave of designs should come with the clean ener­gy of hydro­electrics via Ver­ti­cal Water Dis­place­ment.

    The Bernoul­li equa­tion of kinet­ic and grav­i­ta­tion­al ener­gy pres­sures along tubes of dif­fer­ent diam­e­ters does not allow us to explain the effi­cien­cy of the human heart and the cir­cu­la­to­ry system…the Right Atri­um has a pres­sure below zero…In oth­er words, we are lit­er­al­ly dead every sec­ond and the great effi­cien­cy of our cir­cu­la­to­ry sys­tem lit­er­al­ly makes us “mag­i­cal­ly” raise the pres­sure on aver­age to 120/80 mm Hg in the Left Ven­tri­cle…
    Osmo­sis and Dif­fu­sion in Biol­o­gy (free trans­porta­tion with­out con­sum­ing ener­gy) brings us to

    A new con­cept:

    Total Bio­log­i­cal Hydroen­er­gy =
    Mechan­i­cal Hydro-Ener­gy of the one-com­part­ment sys­tem (HE1)
    Mechan­i­cal Hydro-Ener­gy Con­sump­tion (HE2)

    THE= HE1 — HE2..where HE1 > HE2.….there is an Ener­gy GAIN!!! Oth­er­wise LIFE would not exist!

    Gen­e­sis 1:07 con­cept of “sep­a­ra­tion of the waters above and below…
    Hydro­elec­tric Pow­er Plants by Ver­ti­cal Water Dis­place­ment.

    Sus­tain­able clean ener­gy for Archi­tec­ture every­where.
    Dr. Max­i­mo Gomez Nac­er, IV

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.