Winslow House, River Forest, Ill., by Frank Lloyd Wright
Courtesy Aaron Betsky Winslow House, River Forest, Ill., by Frank Lloyd Wright

Frank Lloyd Wright is one of the most famous and celebrated residential architects in America. But are the homes he designed a sustainable model for what an ideal suburban home should look like, or how it should work? One critic says no.

ARCHITECT contributor Aaron Betsky visited the architect's Winslow House in River Forest, Ill., which was designed in 1893. The home sits in a cul-de-sac in an Illinois suburb, and at the time it was built it was a symbol of opulence in suburbia. The home shows few signs of wear and tear because it is constructed on a steel frame. But how does the Winslow house fare on the market today? It has recently been listed for sale.

It is too large for most families, without having the amount of bathrooms or even air conditioning modern families would expect. Local taxes are exorbitant by any measure, and upkeep costs are equally large. In that sense, the Winslow House is a monument and marker of suburban ideals as much as it is a real house. With its larger-than-daily-life scale and dedication to an ideal of family that was both inward turned and social in presentation, it represents what Wright and other idealists at the end of the 19th century thought the suburban home could become. The type never quite did achieve that ideal.

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