Even as he was engaged in projects of unprecedented magnitude and complexity Frank Lloyd Wright’s practice experienced myriad challenges. During the 1930s he had re-entered the international limelight with works of extraordinary originality and daring—aesthetically and technically. During the post-World War II period, however, his output began to be overshadowed by that of a slightly younger generation, especially Mies van der Rohe, and, at the decade’s close, also by a galaxy of young architects who entered the field when Wright was in his 70s or 80s.
The U.S. had emerged as the world leader in Modern architecture, unmatched in its programmatic and technical innovations and in the diversity of its expression. Wright was the acknowledged founder of this sweeping movement, but the relevancy of current work was increasingly called into question. That he practiced in rural isolation and with a staff of acolytes under communal circumstances furthered critical skepticism.
Recent scholarship has shown the late 1940s and 1950s to be a period of ongoing creativity for Wright—not just for work long in gestation, such as Price Tower (1952-56) and the Guggenheim Museum (1943, 1956-59), but also for new projects, including Beth Sholom Synagogue (1955-59) and the Marin County Civic Center (1957, 1960-69). His propensity for experimentation with new, alternative forms of urbanism was exemplified by such unrealized projects as the Civic Center in Pittsburgh (1947-48) and the Plan for Greater Baghdad (1957-58). During the postwar years, too, Wright designed a stunning array of residences, including those for Albert Adelman, Sol Friedman (both 1948), Gladys and David Wright (1950), Harold Price (Bartlesville, 1953; Paradise Valley, 1954), Gerald Tonkens (1954) and Maximilian Hoffman (1955).