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73 of 75 people found the following review helpful
I have been a fan of Frank Lloyd Wright's architecture for over 30 years, and have seen many of his finest buildings. No book that I have seen in those years is as good as this one for explaining his life, the development of his architectural style, providing the details of his best work, and showing stunning photographs of exteriors, interiors, and views. If you only buy one book about Mr. Wright, I suggest this one. I have it with me tonight as I begin a one week pilgrimage to his finest work in the midwest. Each night, I will reread the sections about the works that I will be seeing the next day.
The book would be worth buying, just for the photography alone. For those buildings that still exist, brand new color images were made. These are so magnificently reproduced that they actually exceed the appearances of the originals! I don't know of another book of architectural photography where I could make the same statement. It is as though you are seeing the scenes in Wright's eye, as the pure forms that he was seeking to reproduce. Also, you get lots of images. For example, the home and studio in Oak Park, Illinois section displays 10 large color photographs. Naturally, for the buildings that do not still exist, you have only historical photographs, some in black and white. But these are very fine, as well.
Most books with wonderful photographs usually have limited essays. Masterworks is the happy exception. The essays are clear, thoughtful, and extensive. Yet they tie together to tell the story of Mr. Wright's development. So, they are more like chapters in a book rather than stand-alone essays that such books usually inspire. I was particularly pleased with the information about the materials and building methods that Mr. Wright experimented with and used at various stages of his career.
As wonderful as the photographs and essays are, what made the book special for me were the many draft sketches and conceptual diagrams in Mr. Wright's own hand. To see the transition from first sketch to final details was wonderful.
If you know Mr. Wright's work, you will be aware that he often designed his own furniture and sculptures for the buildings, and had craftsmen execute them. You will see many fine examples in the book of these details presented in their most dramatic ways.
The book also has good balance. Many books about Mr. Wright favor his homes, or his famous works, or his public buildings. This one creates a balance over his entire career of all his work. So you get a decent amount about his Usonia period as well as his Prairie years.
Here are the works that are covered in the book: Home and studio in Oak Park, Illinois; William H. Winslow House, River Forest, Illinois; Susan Lawrence Dana House, Springfield, Illinois; Arthur Heurtley House, Oak Park, Illinois; Ward W. Willits House, Highland Park, Illinois; Larkin Company Administrative Buidling, Buffalo, New York; Unity Temple, Oak Park, Illinois; E.E. Boynton House, Rochester, New York; Avery Coonley House, Riverside, Illinois; Meyer May House, Grand Rapids, Michigan; Frederick C. Robie House, Chicago, Illinois; Midway Gardens, Chicago, Illinois; Imperial Hotel, Tokyo, Japan; F.C. Bogk House, Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Aline Barnsdall House, Los Angeles, California; John Storer House, Hollywood, California; Paul R. and Jean S. Hanna House, Stanford, California; Fallingwater, Mill Run, Pennsylvania; Herbert Jacobs House, Madison, Wisconsin; S.C. Johnson & Son Administrative Building, Racine, Wisconsin; Herbert F. Johnson House, Wind Point, Wisconsin; C. Leigh Stevens House, Yemassee, South Carolina; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York City; Arnold Friedman House, Pecos, New Mexico; Herman T. Mossberg House, South Bend, Indiana; Kenneth Laurent House, Rockford, Illinois; Unitarian Church, Shorewood Hills, Wisconsin; David Wright House, Phoenix, Arizona; William Palmer House, Ann Arbor, Michigan; Isadore J. Zimmerman House, Manchester, New Hampshire; H.C. Price Company Tower, Bartlesville, Oklahoma; Harold Price, Sr. House, Paradise Valley, Arizona; Gerald B. Tonkens House, Amberley Village, Ohio; Beth Sholom Synagogue, Elkins Park, Pennsylvania; Don M. Stromquist House, Bountiful, Utah; Marin County Civic Center, San Rafael, California; Taliesin III, Spring Green, Wisconsin; and Taliesin West, Scottsdale, Arizona.
After you finish enjoying this book the first time, ask yourself what has been Mr. Wright's lasting impact on America. How has his work affected your life? How will it affect your grandchildren's lives?
Turn an optimistic view of people living in natural harmony into reality!
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37 of 37 people found the following review helpful
on January 18, 2002
The primary appeal in this book is the photo collection. While the accompanying text throughout is quite interesting, I think most people will buy it for the pictures. And excellent pictures they are.
For buildings that still exist, the authors/editors took brand new photographs specifically for this book. You would be hard pressed to find similar quality photographs anywhere else.
However, if you are interested in an introductory reading on Wright's work, you won't be disappointed. The reading level seems to be geared towards someone who already knows who Wright is, but is not familiar with his lesser known works, or with the details of his life and of architecture. The authors did a splendid job of placing Wright's work in the context of the time and place, and highlighting that which is fundamentally American about both. From the insight on Wrights life and works, you will learn not only about some of the foremost icons of American architecture, but also about American culture itself. The passion the authors have for Wrights work really shows through in every page, both through photographs and text.
I read every single word and closely examined every single photo. I can promise that if you're honestly interested in learning about Wright's work, as well as his place in history and culture, you will not be sorry you bought this book.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on April 1, 2007
Thirty-eight of his buildings are presented mainly with large color photos along with around a dozen architectural drawings. About a fifth of the book is text. The dust jacket has a striking photo of the exterior of Fallingwater with the lights on inside at night. Maybe half the color photos fill the page. There are about nine black and white photos, mainly in the front of the book as well as a page of eight other black and white photos showing the construction of one of the buildings.

If you want a high quality overview of his work, this is the book to get. Enough buildings are shown to give you a broad view of his work and the book is long enough to go into some detail on each building. The text provides lots of information and reads less like a textbook and more like someone revealing the work of a master, in this case, America's finest architect.

You're not likely to be able to find this for much of a discounted price. It's certainly a well done book and does not fall in the catagory of discounted books. Some things are worth paying for and this could be one of them. I gotta admit, I was more willing to pay full price for Fallingwater by Kaufman. The big difference was that his book had far more full page color photographs. That's one of my few small complaints about this book. If only. But the quality of presentation, the consistently high quality of the photos and, of course, the buildings they focus on, really makes this a book deserving of a full 5 star rating. There are no bad or weak or slightly out of focus photos in this book. Many of the photos are particularly beautiful. This is the finest collection of his drawings I have seen in one book. If you only plan to own two FLW books I would definitely say make it this one and the Fallingwater book.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
I've seen a lot of books on Wright over the years, and read a number of them, but for sheer enjoyment and the celebration of his work, this work is the best I've seen. It strikes the best balance between the photos and text, but the photos are truly magnificent and worth the price of the book by themselves. Much of the information, as another reviewer has commented, is available in other books on Wright, so there might not be that much new here for the Wright expert, but for those not steeped in Wright scholarship, this book is as good as any to learn about his architecture, philosophy, and life. Thirty-eight of Wright's most important buildings are covered, equally divided between his private and public buildings. Overall, probably the best single book out there on Wright to gain an understanding and appreciation of his work for the general reader.

By the way, just today we toured Taliesen, in Phoenix, AZ. It's a great tour if you ever get to the area and are a fan of Wright's buildings. Perhaps that's why I was inspired to write the review. :-)
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on September 8, 2007
No one book could capture the full range of Frank Lloyd Wright's brilliance and versatility, but this one comes close! If you're a fan of the man who was arguably the 20th century's greatest architect, this book is a must-have. It covers his design philosophy, and shows how that philosophy was manifested, from Wright's preliminary sketches to great photos of the finished structures. A visual treat and an invaluable reference work.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
This is a good book for someone who is intersted in FLW and wants to see most of his Masterworks. However, I wouldn't call much of anything he did after the late 1940's a Masterwork but never the less the book gives a nice overview of his entire career. The guy lived to be 92! Lots of just gorgeous photos. Not many floor plans and the ones included are too small to read. Lots of original colored renderings, sections, elevations & some floor plans. The ratio of text to pictures is 20:80. The book goes quick.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 12, 2010
This is an extraordinary book of penciled-in and other structural and architecture diagrams, as well as outlines of all of Wright's masterworks. But much more importantly, it also includes nearly 100 exquisite professional quality color photographs and plates of his major creations. These photographs, as we discovered, are almost as good as actually seeing these magnificent works of creative architecture in the flesh.

Pages 150 -164 include the Edgar Kaufmann House, referred to as "Fallingwater," (completed in 1935) and which we make a pilgrimage to at least every five years or so. Although, the actual structure now suffers water erosion and mildew damage, these photos restores this monument to the original status we always wanted to remember it by.

Anyone who wants more than just a bird's eye view of Wright's genius cannot do better than this magnificent book. It is complete with an introduction that gives a brief biography of Wright's life that follows his path from southwest Wisconsin, through his early training in "the ways" of the German educator Freidrich Frobel, to a year of engineering at the University of Wisconsin, and then on to Chicago where he "made his architecture bones." The book ends with an appraisal of Wright's enormous contribution to the field of architecture. Another Five Star Xmas present.
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on February 5, 1999
for this price you can not find a book of this quality, it has perfect images, drawings, and a deep information about his life and work.
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This book put together by Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer and David Larkin catches the essence of one of the world's most accomplished architects. This book is designed very much like an art catalog and shows the most important oeuvre of the works, accomplishments and architectural breakthroughs brought forth by the hand of Frank Lloyd Wright.
From Wright's earliest works of designing homes from Oak Park Illinois to Springfield Illinois we see his advanced modern concepts of the prairie home onward to his concepts of designing a modern workplace building such as the Larkin Building in Buffalo New York.
This book goes pretty much in timeline order and shows that Wright's work portfolio was as diverse as it was eclectic, and always on the cusp of extreme modernity. His works spanned from the late 19th century to well past the mid-20th with his last work being the ultra-modern Guggenheim Museum.
Some of the most classic of Wright's work are very artistically displayed, such as the famous S C Johnson complex in Racine Wisconsin and Fallingwater in western Pennsylvania. This book's photography is as artistic as the architecture it is depicting. The layout of the book is shown to advance aesthetic appeal for the reader. The photographs are professional grade, and all of them are taken at the correct angles and during the best times of day to depict the true works that Frank Lloyd Wright was undoubtedly trying to convey to those viewing his works.
Intermixed with much of the photographic depictions are Wright's architectural drawings showing the original artistic concepts going right into the photographic showings of this most modern and advent-garde architecture. In trying to explain the legend of Frank Lloyd Wright, this book is a must in the study of true American architecture.
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on January 31, 2015
My favorite FLW book. It goes through his career chronologically and divides the book into the different periods FLW went through. All the major homes are presented with a few pages of text on each and good pictures. It's just enough text for me. Not too in depth to be boring but all the essential info. They even cover a few concepts FLW had but were never constructed. A great overview for anyone- beginner or expert.
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