I have been privileged to have an inside view of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Cooke House in Virginia Beach, VA. Commissioned in 1951 and built in 1959 towards the end of FLW’s career, a family member has owned the home for more than 30 years. We have celebrated weddings, Thanksgiving and many other occasions there together. I never realized what a treasure this home was until they put it up for sale. I recently re-visited the house and came away with greater appreciation of its glories. Here are some of the remarkable aspects of the house that have been incorporated into modern homes and can be used in your own project.
FLW felt that the inside and outside of a home should merge. making it feel like part of the landscape. He took great pains to site his homes within their natural settings – and this one is perfect. It is hidden from the street and neighbors for privacy and takes full advantage of the views of Crystal Lake, near Chesapeake Bay. The home exudes a peaceful aura – you feel calm when you walk through the front door. Filled with light, there are banks of floor to ceiling windows in a semi-circle – hence the name: hemicycle architecture.
1. Radiant heat
2. Built-in furnishings like wall-length sofas
3. Full height doors and windows
4. Great room floor plan
5. Geometric patterns, especially horizontal and triangular lines
6. One level living
7. Corner windows without frames that meet glass-to-glass
8. Use of natural materials such as stone, tile, concrete, and wood
9. Merging of indoor and outdoor spacess
10. Siting homes within their natural setting with great views of surrounding landscape
A great home is a work of art. It can keep families together and allow for greater joy within our daily lives. Historic homes like the Cooke House reflect our American culture. Frank Lloyd Wright is one of our iconic architects. His work deserves to be studied and preserved. It is even more special when a landmark piece of architecture becomes a family home for decades. How fortunate I am to have had this insider’s view and access all of these years.