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Is There A Frank Lloyd Wright House In Toronto?

Is There A Frank Lloyd Wright House In Toronto?

Today, the name Frank Lloyd Wright is a name that is frequently used in a real estate office, university, architectural or interior design firm. It is also often mentioned in popular culture. Despite this, few people know who Wright was or exactly what he did.

Frank Lloyd Wright is widely known as the most famous modernist architect of all time. Wright designed over 1,000 structures and built over 500, all in his unique and modernist style.

Who Was Frank Lloyd Wright?

Frank Lloyd Wright was an American architect, designer, writer and teacher from the United States of America. He was born in Wisconsin in 1867, and his mother had great expectations for him. According to his biography written by Meryle Secrest, his nursery was decorated with cathedrals and buildings to encourage his love of architecture.

In 1886, Frank Lloyd was admitted to the University of Wisconsin-Madison to study under a professor of civil engineering. Rather than finishing his degree, he left in search of employment. In 1887, he arrived in Chicago and was hired as a draftsman with an architectural firm. Frank Lloyd Wright’s new life allowed him to familiarize himself with architectural design until he eventually established his own practice in 1893.

Over the course of his career, Frank Lloyd Wright designed over 1,000 buildings and built over 500, focusing predominantly on private homes, churches, towers, civic centers and hotels. While his influence extended around the world, he predominantly completed projects in the United States and Japan. Wright only completed two projects in Canada – a private residence and a now demolished park pavilion in Banff National Park, Alberta.

Frank Lloyd Wright In Toronto

While Wright’s influence stretches far north beyond the border, he never made it to a project in Toronto, Canada. Nevertheless, Frank Lloyd Wright’s influence can be seen in many houses in Toronto, including the famous Murdoch Home.

Visit The Murdoch Home

The Murdoch Home was designed specifically for the Murdoch Mysteries series, a television show which follows Detective William Murdoch as he solved mysteries in the 1890s. In Season 12 of the show, William Murdoch and Julia Ogden’s first house, the Murdoch Home, was designed personally by Frank Lloyd Wright.

Although this famous house was not actually designed by Wright himself, visitors can enjoy witnessing a take on his unique architectural style in Canada’s largest city.


Influences From Frank Lloyd Wright Houses

While the Murdoch Home is not an ‘authentic’ Frank Lloyd Wright house, it does a fantastic job at showcasing the famous architect’s style.

The home is Prairie-Style, meaning that it emphasizes the horizontal rather than the vertical. This was a popular style that is featured in many existing Frank Lloyd Wright homes of the period. For example, when comparing the Murdoch Mysteries residence to other Frank Lloyd Wright houses, you can see its design resembles that of the Martin House Complex in Buffalo, New York and the Robie House in Chicago, Illinois. All three Frank Lloyd Wright homes place an emphasis on horizontal orientation thanks to their short bricks that extend outwards and low and flat roofs. This allows each Frank Lloyd Wright home to give the perception that it is low to the ground.

Alongside the fabulous exterior, the interior designer took to designing the Murdoch Home with notions towards Frank Lloyd Wright and his personal style. Indoor filming of the Murdoch Mysteries reveals that the Prairie Style house featured many of Wright’s design principles.

A Design & Architectural Masterpiece

Over the course of his career, Frank Lloyd Wright developed various principles and design traits that became a registered trademark of his personal style. These traits can be admired when taking a walking tour by the Murdoch Home on Lamport Avenue in  Toronto, Ontario.

Harmony with its natural surroundings

One of Wright’s biggest goals was to have his designs work in harmony with their environment. A great way of doing this was embracing the transparency of glass, allowing the outside and the inside to merge together. This can be seen in his famous home, the Bachman-Wilson House, now held by the Crystal Bridges Museum of Modern Art.

A horizontal profile

As previously mentioned, Wright focused on horizontal orientation in most of his homes including the Rosenbaum House and the Dudley Spencer House, the latter being owned by private homeowners.

Natural forms

Wright notes that in any and every case, the character of the ground or the site that a building will be erected on influences the architecture. This is to show the kinship of the building to the ground. In Prairie Style homes, this can be evidenced by the low and horizontal form of the structures.


Frank Lloyd Wright sought to merge and unite ceilings, walls and floors to represent continuity, wholeness and tenuity in all of his homes. This goal allowed him to incorporate modern lines into almost every Wright house designed.


The modern master of architecture used a balanced mix of modern lines and often crisp white surfaces to create a modern and minimalistic appearance in his homes. The David and Gladys Wright House and Fallingwater, his most famous house, are wonderful examples.


Frank Lloyd’s Influence

While Frank Lloyd Wright did not complete many projects in Canada, his style has left a lasting impact on the field of architecture and other building officials. His designs were viewed as visionary, futuristic and a new direction for the field of architecture.

Over half a century after his death, many people still admire Wright’s work. While private homeowners generally own many of the homes that Frank Lloyd Wright designed, some have been opened to the public as museums. His designs have also influenced popular culture. Wright homes have been purposefully constructed for a variety of films and television shows including Murdoch Mysteries and Alfred Hitchcock’s classic film “North by Northwest.”

Other Things To Do In Toronto

While Toronto may not have as many Frank Lloyd homes as Oak Park in Chicago, there are many wonderful ways to enjoy art and architecture in the city.

After visiting the Murdoch home, we recommend visiting the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Royal Ontario Museum, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Toronto. If you have about a week in Southern Ontario, we also highly recommend visiting the Galt District to see other Murdoch Mysteries filming locations.

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What Is Bauhaus Design?

What Is Bauhaus Design?

While many people enjoy the abstract shapes, the bright colours and the industrial design of contemporary art, few know its origins. Today’s visual arts and graphic design have been greatly shaped and influenced by the Bauhaus movement.

Bauhaus was a modern design movement that resembled hope, modernity and a rejection of mass production. It brought us modern architecture and furniture design, as well as popular artists including Piet Mondrian, M.C. Escher, Gerrit Rietveld, El Lissitzky and more.

How Walter Gropius Started It All

German architect Walter Gropius was the mastermind behind the Bauhaus movement. In 1919, he established Staatliches Bauhaus, a school in Weimar, Germany that strictly offered art education. He did this by bridging two existing art schools – the old Academy of Fine Arts and the School of Applied Arts – together.

The Bauhaus’s translation, “construction house,” is the perfect example of what the school sought to do; to marry art and craft, artist and artisan, to create beautiful and functional modern art. After several years of operation, the school’s design philosophy morphed into the Bauhaus aesthetic.

What Is Bauhaus Style?

Bauhaus is commonly described as a combination of modernist style and the Arts and Crafts movement, which was a rejuvenation of fine art by architects, craftsmen and artisans during the 1880s. 

Bauhaus sought to bring art back into everyday life while prioritizing function. It wanted to rebel against the unspecialized methods of production in the Industrial Revolution while putting more power back into the hands of the artists and creators.  These values are very obviously represented in Bauhaus design principles. These principles were:

  • Structure and precision
  • Simplicity
  • Industry and technology
  • Union of the artist and artisan
  • Functionality
  • Innovation
  • Combining work, living and play

Influential Art

Bauhaus changed the course of art history. Its principles of simplicity and innovation pushed artists out of their comfort zones and into areas of play. Already established Avante-Garde art styles like Art Nouveau, Art Deco and Cubism were expanded on with abstract geometric art, new mediums and type fonts.

One fantastic example of the area is Yellow-Red-Blue, a famous Wassily Kandinsky artwork. It is known to represent the experimentation and principles of the Bauhaus movement thanks to its lines, movement, bright colours and has obvious notions towards functionality with its subtle depiction of modernist architecture.

Other Bauhaus artists like Paul Klee, Anni Albers and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy similarly utilized simple geometric shapes and bright colours in their famous abstract art.

Bauhaus Architecture

Not only did Bauhaus influence art, but it also greatly influenced architectural style during the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s. Many of the principles of Bauhaus design were translated to Bauhaus architecture with characteristics like:

  • Functional design over ornamentation
  • A focus on geometric forms
  • Use of modern materials (e.g., steel, glass, concrete, etc.)
  • Flat roofs
  • Smooth facades
  • Asymmetry
  • Glass curtain walls

The original Bauhaus Building is a wonderful example. It features concrete, large glass windows and an asymmetrical design. This design education building stands in stark contrast with other popular 1920s buildings like the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building. Both of these buildings feature symmetry, ornamental touches and influences of classical design, all of which go against Walter Gropius architecture.

Many famous Bauhaus architects arose out of this cultural movement. Hungarian designer Marcel Breuer designed the Doldertal Apartments in Zürich. While El Lissitsky’s architecture was visionary, his buildings were rarely possible to construct. For example, his horizontal skyscrapers or cloud-irons were impossible to build due to the lack of technology or advancements in engineering, physics and construction during the early 20th century.

Interior Design

While Bauhaus impacted the design and appearance of building structures, it also impacted buildings’ interiors.

Bauhaus reinvigorated craftsmanship and sparked a new interest in artfully designed furniture and household objects. As students and teachers attempted to harmonize art and craftsmanship, metalworking, cabinetmaking, textiles and more exploded in popularity. Thanks to many of the talented artists who attended the early Bauhaus schools, we now have:

  • The Wassily or the Tubular Chair
  • The Brno Chair
  • The MT8 Lamp
  • The Barcelona Chair
  • The Eileen Gray Side Table

The Bauhaus Archive

As tensions rose prior to World War II, Bauhaus shifted locations several times to avoid the pressure of the Nazi regime. There was first Bauhaus Weimar (1919-1925), then the Bauhaus Dessau (1925-1931) and finally the Berlin Bauhaus (1932-1933). The changing location of the school allowed the Bauhaus design and sacred geometry to spread while students and faculty could avoid the pressures of the Nazi party who deemed that its modernist styles were “un-German.”

Despite the disapproval of the Nazi regime, Bauhaus was an attractive and exciting new advancement in the art world. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York released a statement that it was going to open “what will probably be considered its most unusual exhibition—and certainly one of its largest” exhibitions. The Bauhaus exhibition ran from December 1938 to January 1939. Although the show was considered “unusual”, Bauhaus gained immense popularity.

In 1969, the 50 Years Bauhaus show arrived at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto. Canadians could view the comprehensive artwork, furniture and photographs of new Bauhaus buildings designed under the tutelage of the German painter and designer, Walter Gropius.