Marion Mahony Griffin
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, finished
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.