In a bitter diatribe published in the May 1914 issue of Architectural Record, Frank Lloyd Wright harshly criticized former employees for plagiarizing his architecture. While the accusation may have been justified in the cases of some of Wright's draftsmen, Barry Byrne and, later, John Howe stepped out of the master's shadow and successfully developed their own personal interpretations of organic architecture. Byrne worked in the Oak Park studio during the early days of Wright's independent practice. Howe, years later, became the “pencil in Wright's hand” at Taliesin. The positions of these two men in the story of midcentury modern architecture have remained largely overlooked until now.

While a generation separated Byrne and Howe, numerous parallels connect them. Both came from relatively poor families in the Chicago area and developed their interest in architecture as young boys, spending free time visiting modern buildings. Both talked their way into Wright's office...

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