Frank Lloyd Wright in California

Visionary architect Frank Lloyd Wright invented the Prairie Style, an architectural expression of the American landscape, and American culture. In so doing, he turned the vertical (English) Victorian style on its side – – and gave us the modern horizontal picture window.

When he came to California, however, Frank Lloyd Wright left the prairie behind, making his buildings at home in the landscape and culture in which they were sited. Twenty-six Wright-designed buildings survive in California today and each is a deliberate interpretation of a specific place and time.

cast stone replacement john snowden house

Perhaps his best-known commission in California is the Hollyhock House, pictured left, a Hollywood mansion built in a dramatic neo-Mayan Deco-influenced style. Kaptive CP is proud to have played a role in the preservation of this impressive landmark. Since Hollyhock House was built, a century ago, we have gained a better understanding of the California building environment – – certainly with regard to seismic issues. 

That said, well-meaning misapplication of new technologies is frequently more damaging to historic fabric than the conditions they are intended to correct. For this reason, we always ask ourselves what the original builder would want us to do. 

Many times on this project, we had reason to wish that we had Frank Lloyd Wright, himself, on our team. How would he have advised us to proceed if he had access to the knowledge and materials that we have today? By posing such hypothetical questions, we are better able to make effective interventions while continuing to maintain the designer’s original vision. 

Addendum: We also worked on the John Sowden House, pictured right, an astonishing building designed by Frank Lloyd Wrights’ son, Frank Lloyd Wright, Jr., in a similar neo-Mayan Deco style.