Where should one turn to learn more about legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright? A Google search? The library? Perhaps visit one of Wright's iconic buildings?
East Ridge High School senior Taylor Bannink took his curiosity a step further when he decided to reach out to Wright's great-grandson, Lloyd Natof, a woodworker with a studio just west of Chicago.
Eighteen-year-old Bannink, a budding architect himself, left early for a Chicago soccer tournament to meet with Natof, a faculty member at Wright's School of Architecture at Taliesin. He said Natof showed him some of the projects his students were working on and told him more about Wright.
"Even though it wasn't exactly architecture, it got me into certain design stuff and (I learned) more about Frank Lloyd Wright, which was kind of sick," Bannink said.
An interest in architecture started when Bannink was young. Like many kids, he loved playing with Legos, and he discovered early on that he was skilled at drawing and design.
"I wanted to be an entrepreneur, I really liked Steve Jobs, so I designed weird electronic things that probably wouldn't even make sense," he said. "And then as I got older ... I started drawing houses and drawing buildings and thought, oh, this is kind of cool."
In high school, Bannink began to take his interest in architecture seriously. He began shadowing professional architects through a yearlong career mentoring class at East Ridge. Christine Albertsson, of Albertsson Hansen Architecture in Minneapolis, became his mentor. He helped with a variety of tasks at the firm ranging from filing to design work.
"I was doing as much work as I legally could do there," Bannink said with a laugh.
All of his planning and preparation culminated in acceptance to his dream school: California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo. The university has a competitive architecture department that includes both conceptual and hands-on programs that Bannink said appealed to him.
But Bannink won't head directly to California this fall. A member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Bannink recently received a call to spend two years as a missionary in Hong Kong, China, which will require him to learn Cantonese. He plans to defer his enrollment at the university until he finishes his mission.
Aside from his pursuit of architecture, Bannink was also a member of the East Ridge soccer team, playing on junior varsity his sophomore year and varsity during his junior and senior years. He also played club soccer during offseasons.
This year he was awarded a "Player of Excellence" award from varsity coach Tony Bidwell, which recognized Bannink as a player who had a positive attitude and encouraged other players to do their best during practices.
In May 2018, Bannink was one of five East Ridge students to be awarded the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest honor in Scouting. Just 6.5% of eligible Scouts achieved the rank in 2018, according to Scouting Magazine. Bannink's service project, a necessary part of achieving the rank, involved building two benches that were placed along Woodbury's Bailey Lake.
Throughout his 18 years, Bannink said his main support system has been his parents.
"If I was pursuing something that didn't seem realistic, they always supported me," he said. "They didn't always shoot me down - they kind of let me explore failure, if that makes sense. They were kind of like friends."