Frank Lloyd Wright was one of most innovative and famous architects of the Twentieth Century. He was surely the most prolific architecht of the Prairie School. He is best known for the Guggenheim Museum in New York. But of approximately 362 known commissions that Frank Lloyd Wright completed in his own lifetime, about 99 of them survive in Illinois.
The Illinois works are mostly Prairie homes, organic residences, Usonian homes that foreshadowed suburban ranch houses, and a few public buildings such as the Unitarian Temple in Oak Park. Most were built during a 22-year period that Wright lived and worked in Chicago and Oak Park from 1887 to 1909. The earliest Wright Illinois home was his own, built in Oak Park in 1889. The last was built in Rockford in 1949. Illinois has far more examples of his work than any other state and they account for about 20 percent of all of his work that remains standing today.
The Wright works in Illinois include 27 homes and buildings in Chicago, 20 in Oak Park, 11 in Glencoe, 9 in River Forest, 4 in La Grange, 3 in Highland Park, 3 in Riverside, 2 in Springfield, 2 in Kankakee, 2 in Evanston, 2 in Wilmette, and one each in Hinsdale, Elmhurst, Kenilworth, Dwight, Belvidere, Flossmoor, Geneva, Batavia, Decatur, Aurora, Lake Bluff, Villa Park, Libertyville, and Rockford.
Frank Lloyd Wright was born in Richland Center, Wisconsin on June 8, 1867. When he 12 years old, Wright's family moved Madison, Wisconsin where he attended Madison High School but he did not finish. In 1885, he studied under the Dean of the University of Wisconsin's Engineering department but stayed only two semesters to study civil engineering before he moved to Chicago in 1887.
In Chicago, Wright worked for architect Joseph Lyman Silsbee. Wright first design to be built was variously called the Lloyd-Jones family chapel or Unity Chapel. In about 1888, he went to work for the firm of Adler and Sullivan, directly for the famous Louis Sullivan who designed many famous Chicago landmark buildings.
Wright modified Sullivan's idea that "Form Follows Function" to his own revised idea that "Form and Function Are One." Wright acknowledged Sullivan as a mentor.
According to a Wright biography sponsored on a web site sponsored by the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation,
"Sullivan's belief (was) that American Architecture should be based on American function, not European traditions, a theory which Wright later developed further. Throughout his life, Wright acknowledged very few influences but credits Sullivan as a primary influence on his career. While working for Sullivan, Wright met and fell in love with Catherine Tobin. The two moved to Oak Park, Illinois and built a home where they eventually raised their five children. In 1893, Sullivan and Wright ended their business relationship. Wright opened his own firm in Chicago, which he operated there for five years before transferring the practice to his home in Oak Park."
After his very productive and relatively stable years in Oak Park, Wright was often sidetracked by romantic misadventures and more work in Wisconsin and Arizona that was no longer as interesting as the early Illinois work was. Wright died on April 9, 1959 in Phoenix, Arizona at the age of 92. According to the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, he had made 1,141 designs of all different kinds of which 532 were eventually completed but many of those were after his death. I have not been able to reconcile conflicting numbers for his total works but I have researched and counted the Illinois works cited above and the Illinois numbers do agree.