Frank Lloyd Wright is possibly the most prolific and revered architect in all of American history. He pioneered revolutionary techniques and styles that are replicated countless times across the American architectural landscape. But did Wright build homes in location-efficient places? Today we will explore two of his most well-known works: The Fallingwater House in Stewart Township, Pennsylvania, and the Robie House in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago.
Today these structures are museums rather than anyone’s home, but we were still curious to see what a typical family living there would pay for transportation. We at Abogo wouldn’t mind living in what must feel like a tree house. But what happens when we eventually have to step outside to work, shop, or meet up with friends? What kind of transportation costs would a typical family living in Fallingwater encounter?
The Fallingwater House, finished in 1937, is a revolutionary piece of organic architecture that integrates the structure of a man-made building with the brilliant resonance of its natural surroundings.
Architectural lore is that Wright designed the house in one sitting of less than three hours, which is remarkable given the international accreditation it has since received. Let’s take a look at the current monthly transportation costs a resident could expect.
Given an average gas price in the region of $3.50/gallon, transportation costs would average nearly $1,250/month. That’s more than a 20 percent increase in the cost in 2000.
This high monthly average is due to a number of factors, stemming from its location. The Fallingwater House was built as a rural weekend retreat, and to this day it remains in a very rural area. Stewart Township has a population density of only about 15 people per square mile and does not have public transit for the region. Walking and biking are certainly pleasant given the spectacular scenery; however, the nearest grocery store is over six miles away. Residents of Fallingwater and their neighbors may want to invest in fuel-efficient cars to keep transportation costs as low as possible.
The Robie House is a similarly revered work, completed by Wright in 1910. Located right next to the University of Chicago, it is a prime example of the Prairie Style of architecture. However, the building has faced the threat of demolition multiple times. One was so serious that a 90-year-old Wright visited the site to protest. Thankfully it is now a Chicago Landmark, which protects the building from demolition, and the Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust maintains the building.
Let’s take a look at the transportation costs one could expect living in the Robie House.
Despite higher gas prices in Chicago, $794/month in transportation costs is markedly better than the cost of getting around if you lived in Fallingwater. The increase in transportation costs for Robie House over the past decade is a relatively modest 14 percent.
Chicago has a population density of 11,864 people per square mile, which provides both the resources and incentives for efficient public transit options. A 30-day pass on the CTA, which will take you anywhere in Chicago and even Evanston to the north, is only $86. Likewise, there are many businesses and amenities within a short distance, making walking and biking to destinations much more feasible. Having options other than the car makes average transportation costs less reliant on gas prices, keeping the average more stable over time.
What’s your favorite Frank Lloyd Wright home? Do you think transportation costs there are more similar to Fallingwater House or Robie House? Plug the address into Abogo and let us know what you find out!