Bragdon was born in Oberlin, Ohio. He was raised in Watertown, Oswego, Dansville and Rochester, New York, where his father worked as a newspaper editor. Bragdon's principal work was in the Rochester area. He was well regarded for his ink rendering talent and his study of geometric ornament. He was most proud of his designs for Rochester's New York Central Railroad Station, the Rochester First Universalist Church, and the Rochester Italian Presbyterian Church, among many others. Unfortunately, in 1917, after a dispute with photography magnate George Eastman (of Eastman Kodak fame) over the design of the Rochester Chamber of Commerce Building, Bragdon's architectural practice waned. He incorporated his own design of the hypercube in the structure of the building. He moved to New York City in 1923 and became a stage designer, and remained in New York until his death in 1946. In his books on architectural theory, The Beautiful Necessity (1910), Architecture and Democracy (1918), and The Frozen Fountain (1938), he advocated a theosophical approach to building design, urging an "organic" Gothic style (which he thought of as reflective of the natural order) over the "arranged" modern abstract style that was coming into its own in the early 20th century. He had yet another overlapping career as an author of books on spiritual topics, including Eastern religions. These books include New Lamps for Old (1925), The Eternal Poles (1931), Four Dimensional Vistas (1930),and An Introduction to Yoga (1933). His autobiography More Lives Than One (1938) alludes to both his belief in reincarnation and his varied career paths.