“The good building is not one that hurts the landscape, but one which makes the
landscape more beautiful than it was before the building was built.”
— Frank Lloyd Wright
PRAIRIE STYLE IN RALEIGH
During the first decade of the 20th century, American architect Frank Lloyd Wright pioneered a bold new approach to domestic architecture: the Prairie Style. Inspired by the broad, flat landscape of America’s Midwest, the Prairie style was the first uniquely American architectural style and a reaction to the excesses of the Victorian era. Its primary features were horizontal lines, flat or low hipped roofs with broad eaves, horizontal bands of windows, solid construction, and decorative restraint.
Wright believed that rooms in Victorian era homes were boxed-in and confining, so he began to design houses with broad open interior spaces instead of strictly defined rooms.
In keeping with FLW’s principles, this three-story, custom-designed house, perched on a steeply sloping site in Raleigh, NC, pays homage to all of the original Prairie style’s features, beginning with the natural stone that forms tapered columns at the main entrances, fireplaces, deck supports, selective foundation locations, and retaining walls and walkways leading up to the house. We believe the stone conveys the same sense of permanence, and of belonging in the landscape, as a rock outcropping. And for the roof: cedar shake shingles.
Opening the interior to views of the forest behind the house was a key element in the development of this home design. So we oriented the front-to-rear axis on a northwest to southeast angle, which gives the homeowners expansive views of the wooded ravine. Bands of tall windows flood the interior with natural light. Skylights illuminate the most interior spaces.
Providing design continuity from the exterior to the interior was another key consideration. Along with the natural stone, we used natural wood – in this case, cherry – throughout the house, beginning with an arched cherry ceiling that continues from the front door to the tapered stone fireplace at the rear. Complementing the dramatic ceiling are cherry beams, brackets, tapered columns, and crown moulding in the dining, living, and great room spaces. Cherry and alder wood casework appears throughout the house. Alder is a light brown wood with subtle grain patterns that works beautifully with cherry wood’s rich reddish-brown color.
To provide visual and audible connectivity between the floors, interior balconies and other upper spaces overlook the main level.
Unlike FLW’s first Prairie style houses, this 21st-century, custom-designed home is grounded in energy-efficient building systems, including 2 x 6 exterior wall framing, radiant heat-barrier roof sheathing, variable speed high-efficiency HVAC systems, and Pella Low-E clad windows.