Elizabeth Wright Ingraham, architect, FAIA, died of congestive heart failure in San Antonio, Texas, on September 15, 2013. She was 91 years old.
Daughter of John Lloyd Wright and Hazel Lundin, and granddaughter of Frank Lloyd Wright, Elizabeth studied architecture with Mies van der Rohe at the Armour Institute (now Illinois Institute of Technology). She also attended University of California, Berkeley. In addition to working for sixty-five years as an architect, Elizabeth was an educator, scholar, and public figure. Elizabeth’s practice received numerous design awards from the American Institute of Architects. Her extensive work on behalf of women, energy conservation, and environmental awareness was honored with multiple awards throughout her life. She believed that architecture was capable of profoundly influencing culture. On National Public Radio in 1994, she remarked, “Architecture is the language of intervention…it intervenes in biologic, social, and political systems, and as such, architects become builders of ideas.”
Elizabeth was born in 1922 in Oak Park, Illinois. She became a licensed architect in 1947. In 1948, she moved from Chicago with her husband, Gordon Ingraham, who studied with Wright at Taliesin, to Colorado Springs, Colorado, where they opened a practice together. As Ingraham & Ingraham, Architects, they designed and built over 80 projects. In 1974, Elizabeth and Gordon divorced. Subsequently, Elizabeth opened her own practice, Elizabeth Wright Ingraham and Associates.
Dissatisfied with the narrowness of architectural work, Elizabeth founded an educational institute in 1970 for the comprehensive study of environmental and land use issues on the Front Range of Colorado. The Wright-Ingraham Institute thrived for twenty years under Elizabeth’s direction, attracting students and visiting faculty from schools across the nation. The Institute continues today as a non-profit dedicated to education and environmental research.
Elizabeth eventually returned to architectural practice, designing numerous residential and urban projects and became nationally and internationally known as a visionary educator and designer. Some of her most accomplished and experimental architectural projects were designed and built when she was in her 70s. She felt that this work, later in her life, reflected a departure from her grandfather’s principles and a coming to fruition of her own architectural ideas.
Elizabeth was an advocate for architecture and civic advancement throughout her life. She improved public access to her grandfather’s legacy and brought early attention to social and environmental issues in architecture through her writings, public lectures, and conferences.
Elizabeth started an international exchange program, Crossroads, in affiliation with Colorado College, was a co-founder of the Women’s Forum in Colorado, and served on multiple advisory boards and task forces. She sustained an avid interest in life, creative work, and the power of ideas to the very end of her life.