Marion Mahony Griffin

[Image: Marion Mahony Griffin, Concrete House for Ladies Home Journal, illustration, /Artwork: designslinger]

Marion Mahony was the first person Frank Lloyd Wright hired as he ramped up his

burgeoning new architectural practice in 1895. She was the second woman to graduate from MIT in 1894, and the first woman in the world to receive a license to practice architecture.

While with Wright, Mahony created some of the most recognized renderings of Wright's

groundbreaking Prairie style period. Her skills as a draftsperson and her ability to make a pencil create magic, have been heralded as the reason Wright's popularity grew in the early stages of his career. Her drawings captured the essence of the kind of building Wright was working so hard to create.

Her work was featured extensively in the 1910 Wasmuth Portfolio, a publication of 
lithographic plates of Wright's work up until that time. The book brought Wright much acclaim in Europe, and once again credit was given to Mahony's drawings for much of that success.

When Wright fled the country in 1909, Mahony, and the few remaining employees,
the projects remaining on the studio drafting boards. She eventually married co-worker Walter Burley Griffin and the two of them relocated to Australia when the Griffins won the competition to oversee the building of Australia's new capital city, Canberra. Mahony Griffin urged her husband to enter the contest and her renderings tilted the award in their favor.

Barry Byrne, one of the draftsmen in Wright's Studio in 1909, recalled that Marion,

"...was the most talented member of Frank Lloyd Wright's staff ... Mr. Wright
       would occasionally sit at Marion's board and work on her drawings, and I recall
       one hilarious occasion when his work ruined the drawing. On that occasion
       Andrew Willatzen, an outspoken member of the staff, loudly proclaimed that
       Marion Mahony was Wright's superior as a draftsman. As a matter of fact, she was.
       Wright took the statement of her superiority equably."

She died in 1961 at the age of 91.

[Image: Marion Mahony Griffin, Unity Temple, Oak Park, IL., illustration, /Artwork: designslinger]

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  • 4/4/2009 9:26 PM Marty Hackl wrote:
    Mahony did more than just draw pictures!

    Not only did Mahony do those fantastic drawings, she was probably responsible for much of the outstanding architectural design coming from FLW's office, and other decorative design work for which Wright became famous.

    If you look at the Dana house in Springfield, for example, you can see "Mahony" written all over it. And those windows and "butterfly" lamps are clearly hers!

    Wright's fame rests on her more than any other, and it was not as often the others that were doing the borrowing or stealing from Wright as he accused them all of doing. It was more often the other way around.

    Love your blog.
  • 11/27/2009 10:58 AM jean claude gerlier wrote:
    thank you, Marion Mahony being the first architect woman in the world to receive a licence is an important information for my knowledge.
    1. 11/28/2009 4:47 AM designslinger wrote:
      You're welcome.

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