Wright, born in Wisconsin and based in Chicago, is known for developing Prairie Style architecture, which is characterized by low, horizontal roofs, gently sloped gables, rows of continuous windows, wide overhanging eaves, a central hearth, an open plan, and undisguised building materials. The Dana House, one of Wright’s earliest projects, afforded him the opportunity to experiment with many design and construction techniques he would implement in his later works. Though many European modernists shunned exterior ornament, American practitioners like Wright used it liberally to accentuate structure, with a proclivity toward geometric abstractions of nature. Applied on the upper portions of the exterior, the decorative frieze wraps around the house, forming a richly patterned skin derived from the shape of sumac leaves—a thematic ornamental element applied throughout the house on windows, lamps, and decorative objects.
Gallery label from Shaping Modernity 1880–1980, March 28, 2012–September 8, 2013.