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Frank Lloyd Wright's Buffalo - Lines in the Glass: FLW's Light Screens Lesson Plan
ELA, Math/Technology, Art
6, 7, 8
ruler, paper, drawing implement(chalk, pen, pencil, marker, crayon)
photos of Frank Lloyd Wright homes and windows
Tree of Life image
Many of Frank Lloyd Wright’s window patterns tend to reflect natural forms in an abstract style.
On the first floor of the Martin house, he used glass designs that resembled the wisteria plant, which grew on the site. In the first floor reception room and in the second floor windows, he used what came to be known as the “Tree of Life” pattern.
The “Tree of Life” pattern was the most complex pattern ever designed by Wright and had over 750 pieces of glass in each window.
Other designs for the Martin complex were geometric patterns and did not reflect things found in nature. These were in the horizontal skylights and lay lights (skylights illuminated by electric lights). These may have been more of a reflection of the geometric lines of the house itself.
Frank Lloyd Wright designed more separate window patterns for the Martin complex than for any other of his commissions. The house has fifteen different designs and an astounding total of 394 Wright designed windows were installed in the whole complex.
Frank Lloyd Wright designed a WHOLE house. He even designed the patterns that would be in the art glass of the windows. Mr. Wright designed this window. It is one of his most famous designs. The name of this window is “The Tree of Life”. Look at the window and label the parts. The parts are:
pot or ground
Ask students "what is your favorite thing in nature?"
Frank Lloyd Wright designed his windows to look like nature, but he always used straight lines!
Ask students “what can you think of in nature that has straight lines?
Use this idea and draw a nature design for a Wright-style art glass window. Just as Mr. Wright did, you must only use straight lines.
Frank Lloyd Wright's Buffalo - Mapping the Connections Lesson Plan
Math/Technology, Social Studies, Career Development & Occupational Studies
map of the City of Buffalo - answer key (pdf)
Each of the Frank Lloyd Wright structures built in Buffalo between 1903 and 1926 had a connection to the Larkin Soap Company.
Darwin Martin was the chief financial officer for the Larkin Soap Company. Wright designed the Martin complex for Darwin D. Martin and his family beginning in 1903. In 1926, Graycliff, the Martin’s summer home, was built on the shores of lake Erie.
The Heath house, on the corner of Bird Avenue and Lincoln Parkway, was designed for W. R. Heath, a lawyer for the Larkin Company in 1905.
In 1908, a third home, the Davidson house on Tillinghast Place in the Parkside district of Buffalo, was designed for Walter V. Davidson and his family. Mr. Davidson was an accountant for the Larkin Company.
The headquarters of the Larkin Soap Company, called the Larkin Administration Building, was Wright’s first commercial building. It was built in 1906. The demolition of the building in 1950 is regarded as a great architectural loss to the world.
Frank Lloyd Wright visited Buffalo many times during the construction of these buildings. Even many years after Frank Lloyd Wright’s death in 1959, plans are under way to build even more Wright-designed structures in the city.
In 2003, a structure designed by Wright for the Martin family was finally built. It is called the Blue Sky Mausoleum and it is in Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo. Darwin Martin and his wife, Isabelle, are buried nearby, in another part of the cemetery.
Wright designed a gas station that was supposed to be built in Buffalo but never was. He also designed a boathouse for the University of Wisconsin Boat Club. There are plans to build both the boathouse and the gas station in Buffalo in the near future.
The influence of the great American architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, is ever-present in the rich architectural heritage of the city of Buffalo.
Mark each Frank Lloyd Wright structure on the map included with your guide. The map should be posted at the front of the classroom.
Mr. and Mrs. Martin are hosting a social event. Draw the paths that the Heath family and the Davidson family would each take to reach the Martin House.
Frank Lloyd Wright used new materials and technology in his design for the Darwin D. Martin complex. For example, he heard about a new kind of material that would be “germ-proof” and he used it to make the kitchen counters. It was called “Novus” glass. Mr. Wright also used more steel and concrete than any other architects of his time. What new materials or technology might Frank Lloyd Wright use in his designs today? What new material or technology could you imagine that would excite an architect like Frank Lloyd Wright.
Frank Lloyd Wright's Buffalo - Design it All Lesson Plan
ELA, Math/Tech., Social Studies, Art, Family and Consumer Sciences
Frank Lloyd Wright designed the entire house for Darwin and Isabelle Martin. He chose the colors for the walls and the carpets. He designed the style of furniture and even where it should be placed in each room. He decided which plants should be grown in their garden.
Ask students the following question:
Would you like the idea of having another person choose so many things about your house? (Remember, he was an excellent architect and very creative.)
Have students choose both or either side of the question and write arguments for each:
“Yes, he should have been given permission for making so many decisions because . . .”
“No, he shouldn’t have been given that much authority over the Martins’ house because . . .”
Have students debate the question in teams.
Frank Lloyd Wright's Buffalo - Extra! Extra! Martin Complex Newspaper Article Lesson Plan
ELA, Math/Technology, Sociology, History, Economics, Family and Consumer Sciences
Through the years, Darwin Martin invested most of his great wealth in the stock market and real estate and he lost his fortune in the disastrous stock market crash and subsequent economic depression of the early 1930s. The Martins could no longer afford to live in their house.
The Barton House and the gardener’s cottage were sold to new owners. Darwin became ill and died in 1935. Two years later, his wife Isabelle left the house and went to live two miles away in a lavish apartment building, which had been built by her son in 1929.
The house so loved by both owner and architect was left empty and abandoned, unheated and unsecured, for the next seventeen years. The deterioration of the house and property was sad to see.
In 1954, an architect named Sebastian Tauriello bought the property and moved his family into the main house but the carriage house, conservatory and pergola were too badly damaged to be saved. They were demolished and in 1960 the land was sold to a developer. Three large two-story apartment buildings were constructed between the main house and the Barton House.
In 1966, the University at Buffalo bought the Darwin Martin house as a residence for their president. Later years saw it used for offices and to house the growing archive collection of the University. With the construction of the new Amherst campus of the University at Buffalo and the relocation of the archives and offices to that facility, the future of the Darwin Martin house was once again uncertain.
In the 1990s a campaign began to save the landmark home and property with a partnership among the State University of New York at Buffalo, the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, and the Martin House Restoration Corporation. In 2001, ownership of the home was transferred to the Martin House Restoration Corporation, a community-based group of very concerned and energetic neighbors and friends of the complex.
Today, with major funding from many collaborative partners, the beloved home of Darwin Martin and design of Frank Lloyd Wright is being carefully and enthusiastically restored. The legacy of Frank Lloyd Wright in Buffalo is preserved and the Martin House is once again the talk of the town.
Have your students write an article:
Project yourself 20 years into the future. Write a newspaper article about the state of the Martin complex as you imagine it might be then. Think about the condition of the property, the funding, who lives there or who visits, why it is or isn’t still a landmark in the city of Buffalo.
Frank Lloyd Wright's Buffalo - The Shape of Things Lesson Plan
3, 4, 5
Frank Lloyd Wright’s mother hung pictures of famous European cathedrals in his room and bought him Froebel Blocks to play with. The blocks were developed by Friedrich Froebel in the 1830s for children to learn the elements of geometric form, mathematics and creative design. Froebel Blocks consisted of a set of colored strips of paper, two dimensional geometric grids and a set of wooden bricks comprising cubes, spheres and pyramids. In his work, Frank Lloyd Wright used examples of geometric shapes and forms other than the rectangle.
Have students identify these eight figures.
Precut construction paper rectangles, squares, circles, trapezoids, etc. Pretend you are a spider sitting on the ceiling. Create a map of your classroom using the precut shapes. Add details.
In groups of two, three or four and using 6-8 m of yarn, work together to make a square, rectangle, triangle, hexagon, pentagon, etc.
Go on a shape walk. Record the shapes you observe and where you find them.
Variation: Divide the class into groups. Give each group one shape and have them record things that have the shapes they are carrying.
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