Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Donald Hoffmann  

Pen Name: None


Audience: Adult;

Born: 1933 in Springfield, Illinois

-- Donald Hoffmann on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

Hoffman was born and raised in Springfield, Illinois.

Biographical and Professional Information

Donald Hoffmann entered the University of Chicago in 1949. After working for the City News Bureau of Chicago and the ''Illinois State Register'' in Springfield, he joined ''The Star'' in 1956. In the early 1960s he began independent studies of the architecture of John Wellborn Root and of Frank Lloyd Wright. He served as Art and Architecture Critic for the Kansas City Star from 1965-1990 and as Assistant Editor of the ''Journal of The Society of Architectural Historians'' from 1970-1972.Hoffmann currently resides in Kansas City, Missouri.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater: The House and Its History
ISBN: 0486274306

Dover Publications. 1993

Organic form was Frank Lloyd Wright's credo, and its most splendid embodiment is Fallingwater, designed and built for the Pittsburgh merchant Edgar Kaufmann in the 1930s. The private dwelling, which juts directly over a waterfall at Bear Run in western Pennsylvania, is the boldest and most personal architectural statement of Wright's mature years.
This volume is a total revision — both in text and illustrations — of the standard document of Fallingwater. With the opening of the Frank Lloyd Wright Archives, valuable new material has come to light that has provided the basis for this completely rewritten and expanded account. The new material has enabled the author, Wright expert Donald Hoffmann, to tell a more comprehensive, vivid, and authentic story. This book is the complete record of the birth, growth, and maturity of an architectural masterpiece. It documents in special detail Fallingwater's architectural innovations: its cantilevered construction, its ingenious integration with a majestic waterfall, the cascading staircases, organic use of ornament, and the problematic but ultimately triumphant use of reinforced concrete.
Preliminary drawings, sketches, and plans show the early phases of the project. Over 100 photographs depict in both panoramic and intimate detail Fallingwater's site, every phase of its construction, and its distinctive interior and exterior detailing. The superb text tells the story in full, from the earliest notions of the project, through heated confrontations over issues of aesthetics and structure, to its completion. In every aspect, this carefully researched book offers readers an extremely rare insider's view of how a landmark of American architecture came into being. "Fascinating." — The New York Times.

Frank Lloyd Wright's Robie House: The Illustrated Story of an Architectural Masterpiece (Dover Architecture)
ISBN: 0486245829

Dover Publications. 1984

Frank Lloyd Wright firmly believed that "life could be formed anew if new form could be brought to its setting, architecture." His revolt against customary architectural design was shared by rugged individualist Fred C. Robie, who chose Wright to build his dream house in 1908. In this painstakingly researched and illuminating account of the design and construction of the Robie home, a noted architectural authority presents an in-depth study remarkable for clarity and thoroughness.
At age 28, Robie had become a highly successful businessman who conceived the idea of building a grand home in his native Chicago. He insisted on a design incorporating features that were innovative for the day: hallways and stairwells situated to conserve valuable space, rooms that suggested feelings of airiness, and narrow trimmings on doorways and windows, among others. Robie's wish to shape space as a means of personal expression meshed with Wright's own feelings and spirit. The two strong-willed men formed a perfect union: Robie had found his architect and Wright his ideal client.
Drawing on revealing family documents, including a 1958 interview with Robie, and a host of other sources, the author has compiled an authoritative photo-history, enabling the reader to witness each stage and various transformations of a landmark of modern architecture. The text is enhanced by 160 carefully selected illustrations, including perspectives and elevations, cross-sectional drawings, floor plans, designs for windows, carpets, lighting fixtures and other furnishings, plus recent and historic photographs. Now students, architects, any lover of fine buildings can watch an architectural masterpiece take shape in this profusely illustrated history of the house Wright himself labeled "a source of world-wide architectural inspiration."

Frank Lloyd Wright: Architecture and Nature, with 160 Illustrations (Dover Books on Architecture)
ISBN: 0486250989

Dover Publications. 1986

Profusely illustrated study of nature — especially the prairie — on Wright's designs for Fallingwater, Robie House, Guggenheim Museum, other masterpieces.

Understanding Frank Lloyd Wright's Architecture (Dover Architecture)
ISBN: 048628364X

Dover Publications. 1995

"May be the best book on Wright ever written, with the exception of the master's own incomparable autobiography." — New York Times Book Review
Despite the vast literature about Frank Lloyd Wright, noted Wright scholar Donald Hoffmann contends that observations about Wright commonly fail to reach any understanding of his art and few commentaries deal with the principles of his architecture. What inspired his work? How did his architecture mature? What are the dynamics of its characteristic expression? Why will the formative principles always be valid?
The answers to these and other questions about Wright's architectural philosophy, ideals and methods can be found in this superb treatment, enhanced with 127 photos, plans, and illustrations of a host of Wright masterworks. Among these are the Robie house, the Winslow house, Fallingwater, Hollyhock House, the Larkin Building, Unity Temple, Taliesin, the Guggenheim Museum, the Johnson Wax Building, and many more.
Expertly analyzing Wright's approach to siting, furnishing, landscaping, and other details, Mr. Hoffmann has written an insightful guide to the concepts that gave Wright's architecture "not only its extraordinary vigor of structure and form, expression and meaning, but its surprising continuity." The book will be essential reading for all Wright fans and anyone interested in the evolution of modern architecture.

Frank Lloyd Wright's Dana House: The Illustrated Story of an Architectural Masterpiece (Dover Architecture)
ISBN: 0486291200

Dover Publications. 2017

"Mr. Hoffmann's magisterial command of the vast Wright literature is matched by his gift for placing the architect in the broader cultural crosscurrents of his time … long a respected Wright authority, [he is in] the very forefront of his peers."—The New York Times
Built in Springfield, Illinois, in 1902–04 for socialite Susan Lawrence Dana, the lavish home known as the Dana House was designed for extensive entertaining and for housing the owner's art collection. The house was the largest and most ornamental residence Frank Lloyd Wright had constructed up to that time.
The lines, dynamic structure, decorative sculpture, and a thousand other felicities of this magnificent house are captured here in a handsome pictorial essay by noted architectural historian Donald Hoffmann. More than 160 rare photographs and line drawings—including interior and exterior views, plans, elevations, sketches, and studies—clearly document Wright's residential masterpiece. The informative and perceptive text discusses the history and background of the house its site, plans, and construction the elements and principles underlying its design, and many other aspects of the home's creation.

Frank Lloyd Wright, Louis Sullivan and the Skyscraper
ISBN: 0486402096

Dover Publications. 1998

This profusely illustrated work offers abundant insights into the early development of the skyscraper and the influence of two master builders who played key roles in its evolution. Rare photos, floor plans, and renderings document such influential structures as Sullivan's Wainwright Building in St. Louis, Wright's Larkin building in Buffalo and many others.

Frank Lloyd Wrights House on Kentuck Knob
ISBN: 0822941198

University of Pittsburgh Press. 2000

This is the first thorough guide to the design and history of “Kentuck,” a splendid mountain house in southwestern Pennsylvania designed in 1953–1954 by Frank Lloyd Wright. Inspired by Fallingwater, the famous house only seven miles away that Wright designed above the waterfalls of Bear Run, local businessman I. N. Hagan and his wife, Bernardine, commissioned the 86-year-old Wright to design this home.

Kentuck, constructed on an isolated knoll, or knob, is now owned by Lord Palumbo of London and is open for public tours. This vivid account tells the story of how the house came to be, detailing the many complexities faced by the Hagans—from the delights and difficulties in dealing with Wright to the problems with topography and architectual plans. In fulfilling Wright’s vision, the Hagans and their contractor managed to construct a building of great beauty, dignity, and serenity. More than fifty photographs, drawings, and diagrams accompany a detailed descriptive text to illustrate how the peculiarities of the plan, based on the equilateral triangle, resulted in a house that generates countless vistas, indoors and out, and spatial effects of great charm and intimacy.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s House on Kentuck Knob brings to life an unusual work of residential architecture. It is the perfect introduction to Kentuck, and for those who have visited there, a lovely reminder of this luminous but modest house.

Mark Twain in Paradise: His Voyages to Bermuda (Mark Twain and His Circle)
ISBN: 0826216420

University of Missouri. 2006

For Mark Twain, it was love at first landfall. Samuel Clemens first encountered the Bermuda Islands in 1867 on a return voyage from the Holy Land and found them much to his liking. One of the most isolated spots in the world, Bermuda offered the writer a refuge from his harried and sometimes sad existence on the mainland, and this island paradise called him back another seven times. Clemens found that Bermuda’s beauty, pace, weather, and company were just the medicine he needed, and its seafaring culture with few connections to the outside world appealed to his love of travel by water.

This book is the first comprehensive study of Clemens’s love affair with Bermuda, a vivid depiction of a celebrated author on recurring vacations. Donald Hoffmann has culled and clarified passages from Mark Twain’s travel pieces, letters, and unpublished autobiographical dictation—with cross-references to his fiction and infrequently cited short pieces—to create a little-known view of the author at leisure on his fantasy island.

Mark Twain in Paradise sheds light on both Clemens’s complex character and the topography and history of the islands. Hoffmann has plumbed the voluminous Mark Twain scholarship and Bermudian archives to faithfully re-create turn-of-the-century Bermuda, supplying historical and biographical background to give his narrative texture and depth. He offers insight into Bermuda’s natural environment, traditional stone houses, and romantic past, and he presents dozens of illustrations, both vintage and new, showing that much of what Mark Twain described can still be seen today.

Hoffmann also provides insight into the social circles Clemens moved in—and sometimes collected around himself. When visiting the islands, he rubbed shoulders with the likes of socialist Upton Sinclair and multimillionaire Henry H. Rogers with Woodrow Wilson and his lover, socialite Mary Peck as well as with the young girls to whom he enjoyed playing grandfather.

“You go to heaven if you want to,” Mark Twain wrote from Bermuda in 1910 during his long last visit. “I’d druther stay here.” And because much of what Clemens enjoyed in the islands is still available to experience today, visitors to Bermuda can now have America’s favorite author as their guide. Mark Twain in Paradise is an unexpected addition to the vast literature by and about Mark Twain and a work of travel literature unlike any other.



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