The bustling metropolis of Chicago has long attracted visitors in search of unique and diverse cultural experiences.
In particular, the city’s architecture is recognized as both an inspiration and reflection of the USA’s architectural history, and no Chicago architecture tour would be complete without a look into Frank Lloyd Wright’s genius. To immerse yourself in his designs, look no further than Chicago and nearby Oak Park, where you’ll find the world’s largest collection of Wright-designed buildings. These are just a few of gorgeous examples of the architect’s desire to create structures “in harmony with humanity and its environment.”
Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio, Oak Park
First stop: Oak Park, Illinois, where the architect spent the first 20 years of his prolific career. This charming and historic village has long welcomed the LGBTQ+ community (it was one of the first to introduce a domestic partnership registry for same-sex couples and enact an ordinance barring employment and housing discrimination based on sexual orientation). Here, you can take a guided tour of the interiors of his National Historic Landmark home and studio. It was here that he perfected the Prairie Style, working diligently in the site’s studio, which was completed in 1898. Outside, spend some time examining the sculptures on the building’s exterior (designed by Wright’s friend and collaborator Richard Bock), then explore the surrounding historic district via self-guided audio tour. Before you leave, stop by the gift shop that carries Prairie and Arts & Crafts merchandise for a take-home memento.
Touring the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio
Unity Temple, Oak Park
Wright, who grew up a Unitarian, called Unity Temple his “contribution to Modern Architecture,” and it’s not hard to see why. The only remaining public building produced during his Prairie period, the Unity Temple was also one of the first houses of worship created with materials traditionally reserved for factories or warehouses; in particular, reinforced concrete. The choice proved to be enormously influential to the modern architects and designers who came after him. Also a National Historic Landmark, the building is still in use for a weekly service open to everyone, and it can also be toured. Inside and out, visitors will marvel at the temple’s simple yet bold design, which Wright intended to be reminiscent of an ancient temple.
A peek inside Unity Temple, built in the early 1900s and just a three-block walk from The Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio
Frederick C. Robie House, Chicago
This Prairie-style building is located on the scenic campus of University of Chicago, where it provides another kind of education altogether. Guided interior tours take guests through Wright’s vision of a family home, with the children’s playroom, entryway, living room, dining room and master bedroom, among others, on display. The house continues to evolve as it undergoes renovations, an effort to bring what is often considered the most architecturally-significant structure in the USA back to its original splendor. Catch the Private Spaces Tour for a behind-the-scenes look at areas not normally accessible to the public, including the servant’s wing and the third floor.
The Robie House, a U.S. National Landmark designed by Frank Lloyd Wright
Chicago serves as the Midwest’s major transportation hub, with two international airports offering worldwide service. Fly in to O’Hare (ORD) or Midway (MDW); both airports offer multiple transportation options into the city, including trains, shuttles and rental cars. Oak Park is located about 18 minutes outside of Chicago, accessible via Interstate 290 West or on the Chicago Transit Authority Green line train.