10 Influential Green Architects

Frank Lloyd Wright
Wright pioneered organic architecture, which still has adherents today.
Wright pioneered organic architecture, which still has adherents today.
Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust/Archive Photos/Getty Images

Frank Lloyd Wright is the architect most think of as the father of green, sustainable architecture. Working mainly in the first half of the 20th century, Wright pioneered the philosophy of organic architecture, beloved by Eric Corey Freed, which takes into account the nature of a site, needs of the client and nature of the materials before designing a building, rather than creating a design plan and then trying to make those three elements conform to the plan.

Because organic architecture is a philosophy and not a style, its principles allowed Wright to create diverse structures, such as the concrete Unity Temple in Illinois, his stucco-and-stone home and studio in Wisconsin, and Fallingwater, the famous house he built in Pennsylvania that was constructed from concrete, stone and glass and set over a waterfall [source: Taliesin Preservation]. While these buildings may not be considered green according to today's standards, whenever you build something in harmony with its surroundings -- that avoids bulldozing trees, for example, or filling in marshland -- that's a plus for the environment.

And Wright was definitely on to something; today more than one-third of his buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places or part of National Register Historic Districts; 24 are National Historic Landmarks; and, in 2008, Taliesin, his Wisconsin home, was one of 10 Wright-designed buildings submitted by the U.S. National Park Service for World Heritage Status [source: Taliesin Preservation]. In addition, many of today's prominent green architects, including Freed and Glenn Murcutt, were influenced by Wright's philosophy and designs.