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  • Writer's pictureHolly

Pioneering Influence, you go girl!

I have always had a fascination with Frank Lloyd Wright and his contributions to architecture. This week I spent some time studying his legacy and ran across a tid-bit that I had never known. Of course the murders at Taliesin Studio in Spring Grove, Wisconsin are well known, along with the fact that he left his wife and brood of children to be with his mistress, but far fewer know of Marion Mahony Griffin, an architect in his office who was a key figure in developing his signature look. 

Her pioneering design work not only helped define the Prairie Style on three continents, but also proved in the early 20th Century that women could have a meaningful and impactful role in architecture and the related fields.  She was one of Wright's very first employees. In 1895, she joined Wright's Oak Park studio, closely collaborating with him for the next 14 years. A leader within the office, she was respected for her design and drafting, and completed several residences as independent commissions under her own name. Her most widely-recognized contributions, however, were her beautiful Japanese-inspired drawings for the Wasmuth Portfolio, a book of lithographs that made Frank Lloyd Wright a household name worldwide.

The famous "Falling Water" from the Wasmuth Portfolio

I think it's sadly ironic that not only was a woman hired on as an architectural leader in 1895, but so many of HER ideas and drawings elevated Wright's reputation in the field.

As a woman in this field, I appreciate that Marion Mahony Griffin and her work inspired successive generations of women who were passionate about architecture and design, opening the door for many to follow in her footsteps. 

Marion Mahony Griffin

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1 Comment

Nakia D. Sheppard
Nakia D. Sheppard
Sep 22, 2018

Great article! Kudos to her for her work in what was then a male dominated field. She was a true pioneer!

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