Marion Mahony Griffin

Marion Mahony Griffin
Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin, in Sydney in 1930
Watercolor from the Canberra Design
Artist's Studio (Section). Watercolor and ink by Marion Griffin 1894

Marion Griffin (February 14, 1871 – August 10, 1961) was an American architect and artist. She was one of the first licenced female architects in the world, and is considered an original member of the Prairie School.[1]



Marion Mahony Griffin was born in Chicago, Illinois, the second child and eldest daughter of the five surviving children of Jeremiah Mahony, a journalist from Cork, Ireland, and Clara Hamilton, a schoolteacher. She graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.) in 1894, where she studied with Constant-Désiré Despradelle.[2] Mahony went to work the next year in the Chicago studio of Frank Lloyd Wright, designing buildings, furniture, stained glass windows and decorative panels.[3] She would be associated with Wright's studio for almost fifteen years and was an important contributor to his reputation, particularly for the influential Wasmuth Portfolio, for which Mahony created more than half of the numerous renderings. Architectural writer Reyner Banham called her the "greatest architectural delineator of her generation". Her rendering of the K. C. DeRhodes House in South Bend, Indiana was praised by Wright upon its completion and by many critics.[4]

Wright understated the contributions of others of the Prairie School, Mahony included. Unfortunately, the views of most architectural historians from the 1950s to 2000 follow Wright's lead. A clear understanding of Marion Mahony’s contribution to the architecture of the Oak Park Studio comes from Wright’s son, John Lloyd Wright, who says that William Drummond, Francis Barry Byrne, Walter Burley Griffin, Albert Chase McArthur, Marion Mahony, Isabel Roberts and George Willis were the draftsmen--the five men and two women who each made valuable contributions to Prairie style architecture for which Wright became famous.[5] During this time Mahony designed the Gerald Mahony Residence (1907) in Elkhart, Indiana for her brother and sister-in-law.[6]

When Wright eloped to Europe with Mamah Borthwick Cheney in 1909, he offered the Studio's work to Mahony. She declined. But after Wright had gone, Hermann V. von Holst, who had taken on Wright's commissions, hired Mahony with the stipulation that she would have control of design.[7] In this capacity, Mahony was the architect for a number of commissions Wright had abandoned. Two examples were the first (unbuilt) design for Henry Ford's Dearborn mansion, Fair Lane and the Amberg House in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Mahony recommended Griffin to von Holst to develop landscaping for the area surrounding the three houses commissioned from Wright in Decatur, Illinois. Mahony and Griffin worked on the Decatur project before their marriage. After their marriage, Mahony worked in Griffin's practice. A Walter Burley Griffin/Marion Mahony designed development that is home to an outstanding collection of Prairie School dwellings, Rock Crest Rock Glen in Mason City, Iowa, is seen as their most dramatic American design development of the decade. It is the largest collection of Prairie Style homes surrounding a natural setting.

Mahony and Walter Burley Griffin married in 1911, a partnership that lasted 28 years. Griffin was a fellow architect, a fellow ex-employee of Wright, and a leading member of the Prairie School of architecture. Marion's watercolor perspectives of Walter's design for Canberra, the new Australian capital, were instrumental in securing first prize in the international competition for the plan of the city. In 1914 the couple moved to Australia to oversee the building of Canberra. Marion managed the Sydney office and was responsible for the design of their private commissions.[8] They pioneered the Knitlock construction method, inexactly emulated by Wright in his California textile block houses of the 1920s.

Later the Griffins practiced in India and, in less than a year, Mahony oversaw the design of over one hundred Prairie School influenced buildings there.[9] Walter Griffin died in India in 1937 of peritonitis following a cholecystectomy. Mahony then completed their work and returned to the United States. Mahony and Griffin spread the Prairie Style to two continents, far from its origins. She credited Louis Sullivan as the impetus for the Prairie School philosophy. She considered Wright's habit of taking credit for the movement explained its early death, in the United States.[10]


Marion Mahony Griffin died in Chicago, aged 90. She is buried in Graceland Cemetery, Irving Park Road & Clark Street, Chicago, with other noted architects: David Adler, Louis Sullivan, Daniel H. Burnham, Bruce Goff, William Holabird, Howard Van Doren Shaw and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.

Architectural work attributable in part or in full to Marion Mahony Griffin (partial listing)


  1. ^ The First American Women Architects, by Sarah Allaback, p. 87
  2. ^ The American Midwest, by Richard Sisson, Christian K. Zacher, Andrew Robert Lee Cayton, Indiana University Press, 2007, p. 558
  3. ^ Walter Burley Griffin, by Paul Kruty University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  4. ^ Frank Lloyd Wright's Right-Hand Woman, by Lynn Becker, 2005
  5. ^ "My Father: Frank Lloyd Wright", by John Lloyd Wright; 1992; p. 35
  6. ^ website
  7. ^ Mahony Griffin, Marion, "The Magic of America"
  8. ^ Prairie Styles website
  9. ^ The First American Women Architects, by Sarah Allaback, p. 89
  10. ^ The Magic of America: Electronic Edition online version of Marion Mahony Griffin's unpublished manuscript, made available through The Art Institute of Chicago
  11. ^ website
  12. ^ Heritage Hills Tours website
  13. ^ Prairie School website
  14. ^ Prairie School website
  15. ^ website
  16. ^ Prairie School website
  17. ^ National Library of Australia
  18. ^ website
  19. ^ website
  20. ^ website
  21. ^ website
  22. ^ website
  23. ^ Beyond Architecture, (editors) Marion Mahony Griffin, Anne Watson, Walter Burley Griffin
  24. ^ website
  25. ^ website


  • Paul Kruty. "Griffin, Marion Lucy Mahony", American National Biography Online, February 2000.
  • Brooks, H. Allen, Frank Lloyd Wright and the Prairie School, Braziller (in association with the Cooper-Hewitt Museum), New York 1984; ISBN 0807610844
  • Brooks, H. Allen, The Prairie School, W.W. Norton, New York 2006; ISBN 039373191X
  • Brooks, H. Allen (editor), Prairie School Architecture: Studies from "The Western Architect", University of Toronto Press, Toronto & Buffalo 1975; ISBN 0802021387
  • Brooks, H. Allen, The Prairie School: Frank Lloyd Wright and his Midwest Contemporaries, University of Toronto Press, Toronto 1972; ISBN 0802052517
  • Waldheim, Charles, Katerina Rüedi, Katerina Ruedi Ray; Chicago Architecture: Histories, Revisions, Alternatives, University of Chicago Press, 2005; ISBN 0226870383, ISBN9780226870380
  • Wood, Debora (editor), Marion Mahony Griffin: Drawing the Form of Nature, Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art and Northwestern University Press, Evanston, Illinois 2005; ISBN 0-8101-2357-6

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Marion Mahony Griffin — junto a su marido. Marion Lucy Mahony Griffin (Chicago, 14 de febrero de 1871 10 de agosto de 1961) fue una arquitecta estadounidense, una de las primeras mujeres en graduarse en arquitectura en el prestigioso Instituto Tecnológico de… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Marion Mahony Griffin — und ihr Ehemann Walter Burley Griffin (Sydney 1930) Marion Lucy Mahony Griffin (* 14. Februar 1871 in Chicago, Illinois; † 10. August 1961, ebenda) war eine US amerikanische Künstlerin und eine der weltweit ersten lizenzierten Architektinnen. Sie …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Marion Mahony Griffin — Walter Burley Griffin et Marion Mahony Griffin, à Sydney en 1930 …   Wikipédia en Français

  • GRIFFIN, Marion Mahony — (1871 1961)    See WRIGHT, Frank Lloyd …   Historical Dictionary of Architecture

  • Mahony — may refer to : Bertha Mahony (1882–1969), children’s literature publisher Chris Mahony (born 1981) New Zealand rugby union player Dennis Mahony (1821–1879), Irish Aamerican journalist and politician Eoghan Mahony, American television writer… …   Wikipedia

  • Griffin (surname) — Griffin Family name Griffin coat of arms Meaning descendant of the Griffin like Footnotes …   Wikipedia

  • Griffin — ist der Familienname folgender Personen: Adrian Griffin (* 1974), US amerikanischer Basketballspieler Alan Griffin (* 1960), australischer Politiker Andy Griffin (* 1979), englischer Fußballspieler Angela Griffin (* 1976), englische… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Marion (Name) — Marion ist ein weiblicher und männlicher Vorname und Familienname. Inhaltsverzeichnis 1 Bekannte Namensträger 1.1 weiblicher Vorname 1.1.1 A 1.1.2 B …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Griffin — /ˈgrɪfən/ (say grifuhn) noun 1. Marion Lucy Mahoney, 1871–1963, US architect in Australia; co designer, with her husband Walter, of the plan for the city of Canberra. 2. Walter Burley, 1876–1937, US architect in Australia; designer of the… …   Australian English dictionary

  • Griffin, Walter Burley — ▪ American architect born Nov. 24, 1876, Maywood, Ill., U.S. died Feb. 13, 1937, Lucknow, India  American architect, landscape designer, and city planner whose most ambitious work is the Australian capital, Canberra.       After studying at the… …   Universalium