Revolutionary Design

Wright
Wright
Jun 11 · 3 min read

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Price Tower

Frank Lloyd Wright designed many radical buildings that changed the course of architectural history, and the Price Tower in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, one of only three skyscrapers completed by Wright, remains one his greatest masterworks. The organic references in the bold angular geometry and the dialogue of the materials of the Price Tower, re-interpret the earlier principles of Wright’s Arts and Crafts structures.

Presentation drawing for Price Tower, Bartlesville, Oklahoma by Frank Lloyd Wright, 1952. This work comes from the collection of Roy K. Varenhorst, an architect who apprenticed with Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin Studios in the 1950s.

Designed to “transcend function and be touched with poetic imagination,” Price Tower stands as Wright’s unique answer to tall building architecture and interior design.

Revolutionary moments in the history of architecture are often credited to artistic partnerships between forward-thinking clients and architects. As the Price family begun to envision a modern corporate headquarters, Harold Price, Sr. first contacted Cliff May, the California based architect of his residence in Bartlesville. The family also reached out to noted modernist architect Bruce Goff, who recommended “if you really wanted the best architect, get Frank Lloyd Wright.” Goff knew the family and their modern spirit would find a kinship in Wright’s designs.

Furnishings from Price Tower, Bartlesville, Oklahoma. The above items come from the collection of Mrs. Harold Charles Price, Jr.

As early as 1912, the concept of the skyscrapers emerged in Wright’s sketches, and Price Tower gave the architect the opportunity to revisit the Utopian designs begun for the towers at St. Mark’s-in-the-Bouwerie in 1927. Completed in 1956, the Price Tower epitomizes Frank Lloyd Wright’s deconstructed Prairie aesthetic and the stylized organic elements he championed. The floor plates are rotated on axis to provide the building with strict geometric structure, yet unexpected foundation. In writing about the tower in its planning stages, Wright states,” its upper floors will command an unbroken view of all directions over eight hundred square miles of prairie and foothills.” Not only the sighting, but the richly patinated copper panels that dominate the exterior construction, synthesize the built environment with the natural surroundings.

collection of Price Tower ephemera, circa 1956

Designed to “transcend function and be touched with poetic imagination,” Price Tower stands as Wright’s unique answer to tall building architecture and interior design. The radical rhythmic linear motifs in the paneling and dramatic exterior louvers were further reflected in the bespoke furniture designed for the interior and, in typical Wright fashion, transcend any particular style. They are purely the unique artistic vision of their maker.


On June 5th, 2019, Wright sold a selection of rare works and related ephemera directly from the Price family collection alongside original architectural renderings of the Price Tower from the collection of architect, Roy K. Varenhorst who apprenticed with Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin Studios in the 1950s. View the collection.

Wright

Stories of art and design from an industry leading auction house.

Wright

Written by

Wright

An industry leading auction house dedicated to 20th and 21st century art and design. Wright brings fresh works to the market in innovative ways.

Wright

Wright

Stories of art and design from an industry leading auction house.