Frank Lloyd Wright produced four different sketches for the initial design. While one of the plans had a hexagonal shape and level floors for the galleries, all the others had circular schemes and used a ramp continuing around the building. He had experimented with the ramp design on the house he completed for his son in 1952, the David & Gladys Wright House in Arizona.Wright’s original concept was called an inverted ziggurat, because it resembled the steep steps on the ziggurats built in ancient Mesopotamia. His design dispensed with the conventional approach to museum layout, in which visitors are led through a series of interconnected rooms and forced to retrace their steps when exiting.
Wright’s plan was for the museum guests to ride to the top of the building by elevator, to descend at a leisurely pace along the gentle slope of the continuous ramp, and to view the atrium of the building as the last work of art. The open rotunda afforded viewers the unique possibility of seeing several bays of work on different levels simultaneously and even to interact with guests on other levels.