Tuesday, October 24, 2017, 7:00PM at the Riverside Public Library (Illinois), Gunny Harboe, the renowned head of Harboe Architects, will give an inside view of the processes used in the restoration of two of Frank Lloyd Wright’s gems: the recently completed Unity Temple in Oak Park and the soon-to-begin Robie House in Chicago. He will focus on the interiors of these early masterworks of Wright’s Prairie School period. Harboe will discuss how, through a detailed and disciplined process of forensic investigation and the development of full-scale mockups, the subtle beauty of these spaces is being brought to life once again. Read more.
The Frank Lloyd Wright Trust is opening the Robie House in Hyde Park to the public for drinks and live music every Friday in October. Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and completed in 1910, the Prairie style home is a Chicago Landmark, a U.S. National Historic Landmark, and is a home that Wright himself considered to be one of his greatest works. The after hours events take place every Friday this month, running between 5-8pm. Tickets are $30 for Frank Lloyd Wright Trust members and $35 for non-members. Advance tickets are available on the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust site. Read more.
Just a reminder: As part of the Chicago Architecture Biennial, SC Johnson is offering free bus trips to its corporate headquarters in Racine, Wisconsin—where visitors can tour Wright-designed buildings on its campus. The bus trips are being offered on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays (holidays excluded) through January 8, 2018, with buses departing at 9am on Thursdays; 9 and 10:30am on Fridays; and 8am and noon on Saturdays and Sundays.
After stopping for lunch at the O&H Danish Bakery in Racine, visitors will take a tour of SC Johnson Administration Building, which opened in 1939. The building's "Great Workroom" is populated with a series of towering white columns as well as office furniture that was specially designed by Wright to complement the space. Nearby, guests will see inside the Research Tower, which Wright completed in 1950 and is one of only two existing high-rise structures designed by the architect. On Saturdays and Sundays, visitors have the opportunity to see Wingspread, a 14,000-square-foot private residence that SC Johnson leader H.F. Johnson Jr. commissioned Wright to build while he was completing the Administration Building. Whether you're a FLW fanatic or just want to take in some sights during a weekend excursion to Madison, you shouldn't pass up a free bus trip to Wisconsin (and back!). All tours depart from the Chicago Cultural Center and reservations can be made through via SC Johnson's website. Read more.
During the height of WWII, an ambitious developer named Roy Thurman proposed building a Rockefeller Center-style Super Block just above Dupont Circle in Washington D.C. He knew the architect would be Frank Lloyd Wright, and the development, which Wright called "Crystal City," would be a masterpiece. Alas, it would never come to be.
Describing the design to a gathering of journalists, Wright said, “Concrete pillars will rise like the branches of trees ... Screens of marble, glass, and bronze will be suspended from the steel—like the leaves,” according to an October 1939 article of the Washington Times-Herald.
A conglomerate of 21 buildings comprised a structure where “two walls of every room [would be] made entirely of glass.” High rise apartments floated above shops and a movie theater. A surrounding courtyard of marble stretched outward. It served as the top for a massive underground parking garage with “tunnels from the uphill street level of Connecticut Avenue so that eight miles of automobiles can be parked in the garage, an integral part of the structure, within 20 minutes,” the Washington Times-Herald reported. Read more.
Audrey Gorden of the Chicago Tribune tells us for a fun outing, stop by the Chicago Architecture Foundation’s Atrium Gallery to check out their 320 square-foot model of the city. The model, which took 1,600 hours to 3D print in its entirety, represents 400 blocks of the city and over 1,000 buildings, so you can admire all the architecture without all the walking. Then, get a lesson in design at Fulton Market’s new cocktail bar. Prairie School is inspired by the designs of architect Frank Lloyd Wright, who contributed numerous architectural treasures to the city of Chicago. Leading mixologist of the bar is James Beard Award winner Jim Meehan, and bar snacks are made by former Longman and Eagle chef, Jared Wentworth. Let the Midwestern hospitality of this bar bring the date home. Thanks for the tip, Audrey! Read more.
On His Own: Walter Burley Griffin’s First Two Houses
The latest book published by the Walter Burley Griffin Society of America, On His Own: Walter Burley Griffin’s First Two Houses; The Gables, Diamonds and Flowing Spaces of 1906 and 1907, is now available. The book includes essays by Paul Kruty, Paul E. Sprague, Richard H. Berry, and Tannys Langdon. With over seventy illustrations, and a dozen color plates, it presents detailed histories of the Harry V. Peters house, built in 1906-07 in Chicago’s Mayfair neighborhood, and the Ralph D. Griffin house, designed in 1906 and constructed in 1910 in Edwardsville, Illinois. Forays into the stories of the clients, social and aesthetic contexts for the houses, and close analysis of historical photographs, contribute to a clearer understanding of two of Griffin’s most important buildings.
By focusing on Griffin’s first two years of independent practice, Kruty reveals Griffin’s initial experimentation with the gabled roof, a form that was to preoccupy him, despite his precocious use of flat roofs, for the rest of his life: “The two buildings are part of an initial creative endeavor that flowed from Griffin’s imagination, pent-up as it was during the last year of his fraught relationship with Frank Lloyd Wright.” As Kruty elaborates, “Two other designs, which remained unbuilt projects, complete a quartet of compositions comprising Griffin’s first foray into a completely self-controlled design vocabulary” which “show the young architect striving to develop a new vocabulary of form employing symmetrical designs composed of two rectangular masses crossed at right angles, covered with gabled roofs producing raised ceilings and diamond windows, and an inventive used of open, flowing interior space.”
In addition to Kruty’s essays on each house, architect Tannys Langdon presents an engaging look into modern life in the Peters house, while homeowner Richard Berry reveals the travails and successes of living with the architectural masterpiece that is the Ralph Griffin house. Paul Sprague provides a careful analysis of the landscape plan for the Griffin house. All in all, a worthy addition to library of all lovers of Griffin, Wright, the Prairie School, Chicago and Illinois history, and the glory of American architecture. Order here.
John Vinci is one of Chicago's most acclaimed architects and preservationists. His pioneering restoration projects include Frank Lloyd Wright's Home and Studio, Sullivan's Chicago Stock Exchange Trading Room, the Carson Pirie Scott Building and Root's Monadnock Building. Long awaited by scholars as well as by architecture aficionados, John Vinci: Life and Landmarks, is the first authoritative survey of his life and work. Author Robert Sharoff will interview John Vinci at Unity Temple in Oak Park, Illinois on November 2, 2017 from 7-8pm. Book signing after the presentation. Read more.
Wade House Historic Site in Greenbush, Wisconsin will celebrate the 150th birthday of Frank Lloyd Wright with a presentation titled "What Taliesin Looked Like, 1911-1912" by Jack Holzhueter, Wright expert and retired Wisconsin Historical Society staff member, from 7-8:30pm on Thursday, October 12, at the Wade House Visitor Center. Read more.
Mike Lunsford recently visited Wisconsin's Taliesin on a sweltering July afternoon as part of an effort to see Frank Lloyd Wright's architecture in person instead of only in films and books. Experiencing the real thing, as Lunsford puts it, "is a revelation." Read more.