Frank Lloyd Wright: The Bogk House Drawings


In the last decade of his life, architect Frank Lloyd Wright described his Frederick C. Bogk House (1916-17) in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, as “a good house from a good period for a good client.”

The Bogk House was significant to Wright because it represented a synthesis of ideas he had employed in some of his most important projects up to that time. Echoes of commissions such as the Midway Gardens (1914) in Chicago, Ill., with its strategic use of sculpted decoration, and the Unity Temple (1905-1908) in Oak Park, Illinois, with its formal, respectful and monolithic street façade are clearly evident in the Bogk House design, which incorporates these strategies to establish a suitable public face separate from the private interior of a middle-class family home.

Designed for Frederick C. Bogk, a prominent Milwaukee businessman and city alderman, the house was the only custom-built, single-family residence Wright designed in Milwaukee. An admirer of Wright’s Avery Coonley House (1907) in Riverside, Illinois, Mrs. Bogk encouraged her husband to select Wright as the architect for a new home they wished to build in the Water Tower District north of the city.

The drawings of the Bogk House—cre-ated by Wright and his draftsmen in just a fewmonths prior to his departure for Japan in late 1917 to begin work on the Imperial Hotel (1923)—provide insight into the architect’s design process as demonstrated by several versions of Wright’s approach to the façade and to the first-floor plan. In the perspective drawing of the living room, one of the earlier and more fully rendered sketches for the Bogk House, one can easily see decorative elements in the fabrics and surfaces Wright employed in the interior and for the window designs of the Coonley House.

The decorative elements of the Bogk House façade, broad overhang, substantial lintel over the screen of windows facing the street, along with a small raised terrace flanked by temple urns cast from concrete and impressed with geometricized organic forms would be repeated in a variety of ways (including the green hipped roof) in his Imperial Hotel design.

Perhaps more significant in the Bogk design was Wright’s emphasis on a free-flowing, open design for the first floor, a design strategy that would become a hallmark and the heart of Wright’s domestic interiors and Usonian designs for the remainder of his career.

These details and others can be seen in the Figge’s unique collection of Bogk House drawings on display in Gallery 201.

This exhibition will be on view June 19-September 28, 2013.