In one way, you could say the spirit of Frank Lloyd Wright lives on through his architecture. But more literally—and more importantly—the spirit of Wright lives on through his progeny—first through his son, Lloyd Wright, and now through his grandson, Eric Lloyd Wright. At 83 years old, Eric Lloyd Wright still operates both his architecture and planning firm, Eric Lloyd Wright & Associates, now in its 35th year, and the nonprofit project Wright Organic Resource Center from his 24-acre, Taliesin-like campus in the Santa Monica Mountains above Malibu, California.
“What I work with are the principles of architecture, which Frank Lloyd Wright evolved and called ‘organic architecture,’” Wright says. “It works and cooperates with nature. We want to site the building properly and understand how the site works with the weather, what the directions of the winds are, where the direction of the sun is, trying to preserve the trees and shrubbery on the property. My grandfather and my father practiced this as well.”
This “organic” concept not only predates the green-building trend of the past decade but also established the ideas that would come to be accepted as common sense concepts of smart design. Wright’s early education as his grandfather’s apprentice at Taliesin and Taliesin West from 1948 to 1956 allowed him to partake in iconic projects such as New York’s Guggenheim Museum and Monona Terrace in Madison, Wisconsin. Wright joined his father’s Hollywood-based firm in 1956 and became a licensed architect in 1967 before forming his own firm in 1978 after his father’s death. For the past 40 years, Wright has been involved in the restoration and revitalization of his father’s and his grandfather’s projects, such as Frank Lloyd Wright’s Auldbrass Plantation in South Carolina or Lloyd Wright’s Taggart House in California, but he has also built a diverse portfolio of his own with forms that are referential, idiosyncratic, and organically sustainable.
His firm presently employs a team of five with Kevin Parkhurst and Hannah Wear—a husband-and-wife team—serving as chief associates at the firm and cofounders and coordinators of the Wright Organic Resource Center, which provides social and environmental education programs at the firm’s rustic, picturesque location, originally purchased but never developed by Lloyd Wright.
“The site has a lot of things happening at any one time,” Parkhurst says. “The center has just about every book written on or about Frank Lloyd Wright and organic architecture. It houses Eric Lloyd Wright’s archives and a materials resource collection—recycled glass terrazzo, bamboo floors, and so forth. We also celebrate nature here, holding a solstice or equinox celebration every three months recognizing the changing of the seasons, and we do a lot of other social events and workshops on alternative energy and natural building as well.”
Eric Lloyd Wright’s work is thus not relegated to architecture but involves a respect for nature and the continuance of the Wright legacy. “If you’re going to do green architecture, it needs to be grown out of the environment, not separate from it,” Wright says. “If I follow the laws of nature and how nature operates, I will be designing on those principles.”