Usonia (/jˈsniə/) is a word that was used by American architect Frank Lloyd Wright to refer to the United States in general (in preference to America), and more specifically to his vision for the landscape of the country, including the planning of cities and the architecture of buildings. Wright proposed the use of the adjective Usonian to describe the particular New World character of the American landscape as distinct and free of previous architectural conventions.

Usonian houses

"Usonian" usually refers to a group of approximately sixty middle-income family homes designed by Frank Lloyd Wright beginning in 1934 with the Willey House,[1] with most considering the Herbert and Katherine Jacobs First House, 1937, to be the first true "Usonian."[2] The "Usonian Homes" are typically small, single-story dwellings without a garage or much storage. They are often L-shaped to fit around a garden terrace on unusual and inexpensive sites. They are characterized by native materials; flat roofs and large cantilevered overhangs for passive solar heating and natural cooling; natural lighting with clerestory windows; and radiant-floor heating. Another distinctive feature is that they typically have little exposure to the front/'public' side, while the rear/'private' sides are completely open to the outside. A strong visual connection between the interior and exterior spaces is an important characteristic of all Usonian homes. The word carport was coined by Wright to describe an overhang for sheltering a parked vehicle.

The Usonia Historic District is a planned community in Pleasantville, New York built in the 1950s following this concept. Wright designed 3 of the 47 homes himself.

Variants of the Jacobs House design are still in existence today. The Usonian design is considered among the aesthetic origins of the ranch-style house popular in the American west of the 1950s.

In 2013, Florida Southern College constructed the 13th Wright building on their campus according to plans that he created in 1939. The 1,700 sq. ft. building includes textile-block construction, colored glass in perforated concrete blocks, Wright photographs, a documentary film about the architect's work at the school, and furniture designed by Wright. Named the "Usonian House", it was originally designed as one of twenty faculty housing units. The building is home to the Sharp Family Tourism and Education Center, a visitor center for guests visiting campus to see the collection of Frank Lloyd Wright buildings.[3]

Origin of the word

The word Usonian appears to have been coined by James Duff Law, an American writer born in 1865. In a miscellaneous collection entitled Here and There in Two Hemispheres (1903), Law quoted a letter of his own (dated June 18, 1903) that begins "We of the United States, in justice to Canadians and Mexicans, have no right to use the title 'Americans' when referring to matters pertaining exclusively to ourselves." He went on to acknowledge that some author had proposed "Usona", but that he preferred the form "Usonia".[4] Perhaps the earliest published use by Wright was in 1927:

But why this term "America" has become representative as the name of these United States at home and abroad is past recall. Samuel Butler fitted us with a good name. He called us Usonians, and our Nation of combined States, Usonia.

Frank Lloyd Wright on Architecture: Selected Writings 1894–1940, p. 100.

However, this seems to be a misattribution, as there is as yet no published evidence that Butler ever used the word.

Usono is the name for the United States in Esperanto.[5] The creator of Esperanto, L. L. Zamenhof, used the term in his speech at the 1910 World Congress of Esperanto in Washington, D.C., coincidentally the same year Wright was in Europe. But it was already well-established by 1908, when Joseph Rhodes, a fellow of the British Esperanto Association and a member of the Lingva Komitato, published The English-Esperanto Dictionary,[6] which was "based upon the 'Fundamento,' the Esperanto literature, and the national-Esperanto dictionaries bearing Dr. Zamenhof's 'aprobo'."

José F. Buscaglia-Salgado reclaims the term Usonian to refer to the peoples, national ideology and neo-imperial tradition of the United States of America.[7]

Miguel Torres-Castro uses the term Usonian to refer to the origin of the Atlantic Puffin bird used in the children's book Jupu the Puffin: A Usonian Story. The bird is a puffin from Maine, USA.[8]

Noted Usonian houses

Precursor to Usonians

(*Note: The Peters-Margedant house was not designed by Wright, but rather, one of his apprentices, William Wesley "Wes" Peters. Many of its features were later incorporated into the Usonians.[9])

Usonian Houses

See also


  1. "The Malcolm Willey House". thewilleyhouse. Retrieved May 12, 2019.
  2. "Herbert Jacobs House". Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. Retrieved May 12, 2019.
  3. Wright Stuff March 2014 Florida Trend page 36
  4. James D. Law, Here and There in Two Hemispheres (Lancaster: Home Publishing Co., 1903), pp. 111–12n.
  5. Wiktionary:Usono
  6. The English-Esperanto Dictionary
  7. Buscaglia-Salgado, José F. (2003). Undoing Empire, Race, and Nation in the Mulatto Caribbean. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. ISBN 0-8166-3574-9.
  8. Torres-Castro, Miguel (2014). Jupu the Puffin: A Usonian Story. New York City: Jupu Press. ISBN 0-6159-4073-0.
  9. "Peters-Margedant House - Archaeology and Art History - University of Evansville". Retrieved May 12, 2019.
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.