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What is Parti Pris?

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Parti pris is the organizing idea behind an architect's design.

Big Idea

A parti pris can be described as a "big idea", organizing principle or design concept that captures the spirit of a building in a few words or sentences.


Fallingwater is a house designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright in rural southwestern Pennsylvania. It is well integrated into the environment and appears to be built into a small waterfall. Its parti pris is often described by the well known Frank Lloyd Wright quote "No house should ever be on a hill or on anything. It should be of the hill. Belonging to it."
The construction company that built Fallingwater was quite upset with Wright as they were expecting a basic design of a house overlooking the waterfall. The integration of the house into the falls was more of a technical challenge that the company claimed wasn't structurally sound. Nevertheless, Fallingwater was constructed in 1939 and stands to this day as a prime example of organic architecture.


Parti pris originates with the 15th century French meaning "decision taken." In modern French, the term parti pris typically means "bias" or "prejudice." As such, the term should be used with care.
Overview: Parti Pris
The organizing principle behind an architect's design.
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