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Frank Lloyd Wright's Coonley Playhouse

January 17, 2024

coonley playhouse

The Coonley Playhouse is an architectural landmark designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1912 for use as a kindergarten. Now used as a residence, its former school room now serves as both living and library space - as well as other iconic Frank Lloyd Wright design elements like detailed interior woodwork and art glass windows that would later make their debuts in his Usonia houses. The coonley Playhouse served as Wright's test-bed for many of his Usonia house concepts that he would eventually incorporate.

Coonley Playhouse features over thirty windows decorated with colorful geometric designs and vibrant hues, creating a lively clerestory filled with over thirty windows in lively combinations of geometric designs. One large triptych window depicting balloons, confetti and American flag motifs was specially created as its centerpiece; architect Frank Wright termed this pattern a "kinder-symphony."

Coonley Playhouse was constructed by Wright near Avery Coonley House, also designed by him in 1907, in Riverside Illinois. Queen Ferry Coonley founded it based on Froebel's Kindergarten Method which uses games and toys to teach children geometry, symmetry, aesthetics, spatial integration and color theory.

Wright's playful design of the Coonley playhouse captures its purpose of encouraging learning through fun and play, making it one of his most famous buildings and its windows can be found all around the world in museums. Additionally, this National Historic Landmark and Illinois State Monument has become one of the official landmarks for Illinois State Monument status.

Anna Petrova

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Anna Petrova is an esteemed lead editor, where she explores the nexus of modern design, urban living, and sustainability.
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