By Richard Guy Wilson and Sidney K. Robinson
In 1903 Frank Lloyd Wright described his creative architectural designs as "saturated with the spirit of the prairie." The Prairie School of architecture, as it came to be known, encompassed designs by Wright, Louis Sullivan, and their followers. Their buildings were abstractions of midwestern landforms and nature, simple geometrical forms enlivened by special ornaments; "thistle flowers" on the flat prairie, with flat or gently pitched roofs. Environmentally appropriate, they were designed with elevations oriented for natural ventilation and heat with deep overhangs shielding against sun and snow. Materials ranged from brick and wood, terra-cotta and stucco, to steel and concrete, but characteristically these were used naturally. Inside, the interior was opened up an the number of compartments diminished and combined, thus creating a life-enhancing space. The Prairie School in Iowa begins with a discussion of the early Prairie School from 1900 to 1930; then the second Prairie School, with its own unique adaptations, its described from 1930 to the present. A catalog of photographs and floor plans of 63 Prairie Style buildings still to be seen in Iowa completes the fact-filled text.
The Iowa Heritage Collection is an ever-expanding collection of reasonably priced reprints of classic books about Iowa, selected for their insightful portrayal of the state and its people.
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