Derived from the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright during his “Usonian” period, the Wrightian style can be found in limited quantities in the Pacific Northwest. While Wright himself only produced a handful of properties in Washington State, several of his students from the Taliesen Fellowship migrated to the Seattle area during the 1950s, bringing with them Wright’s unique style of architecture.
The purpose of Wright’s school was to train architects to work with what he called “organic architecture.” The idea was that the form of a building is not predetermined, but evolved from the requirements of function, circulation, structure, topography, and climate; as does the form of a living organism.
Some students were more successful than others. What was most transmitted was Wright’s personal style based on an emphasis on horizontality and an importance given to the roof as a character-giving feature, whether it is a series of flat slabs or pitched roofs. In many designs, the structure's plan is reflected in the elevations, which in-turn is incorporated into interior and exterior ornament.
Wrightian style buildings have dominant horizontal or vertical lines with cantilevered broad eaves. Flat or shallow pitched roofs often have dentillated or outward projecting fascia boards. Exterior sheathing can range from horizontal wood siding to brick, stone and/or concrete block. When concrete or stucco is applied, it usually has a smooth surface. Other common character-defining features include battered walls, piers which taper downward towards their base, and solid balcony railings that inclined outward.
The banding of windows is common, and many designs incorporated the use of mitered glass at exterior corners. Often walls extend beyond the interior to the outside, and large French doors and warm colors on the interior contributed to the feeling of bringing the outdoors inside. Many plans were developed with strong geometric shapes and are arranged in distinct zones. Built-in furniture is often incorporated, and for residential properties the fireplace serves as an important focal point. Commercial, residential, and religious examples of the style can be found.