It's safe to say that Frank Lloyd Wright is a household name, partly because he put his name on so many houses. The sites overseen by the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust receive nearly 150,000 visitors a year?tangible proof that the visionary's impact on architecture, design, and culture remains alive and well. To ensure that legacy continues, the Chicago-based nonprofit runs tours at several of Wright's buildings and hosts various educational programs.
Home and Studio: Unity Temple. Robie House. The Rookery Light Court remodeling. All classic pieces of Modern architecture, and all designed inside the studio at 951 Chicago Avenue in Oak Park. From 1889 until 1909, Frank Lloyd Wright worked out of this residential space, eventually expanding the home to include a proper studio as demand for his services grew. Now an architectural destination in its own right, the Home and Studio welcomes guests seeking a look into the mind (and working conditions) of America's most famed architect. On tours, trained interpreters guide visitors through the space, sharing anecdotes and insights into Wright's work and home life.
Frederick C. Robie House: The crown jewel of Hyde Park's residential architecture, the Frederick C. Robie House was designed by Wright for the up-and-coming industrialist of the same name between 1908 and 1910. Widely hailed as one of the finest examples of the Prairie School of architectural design, the house has earned its share of accolades over the years, including a spot on the very first National Register of Historic Places in 1966. During tour, architectural experts guide groups through each of the house's significant features, from the cantilevered roof and prevalence of horizontal lines to the striking leaded glass windows that give the house its inner light. Tours also cover recent restoration efforts, giving guests an inside look at what it takes to preserve a historic home.
"You know, Unity Temple is my contribution to modern architecture"—bold, blunt, and revolutionary, Frank Lloyd Wright single-handedly forged the Prairie school of architecture, of which Unity Temple is perhaps the purest example. Built between 1905 and 1908, the church broke all of the traditional rules, replacing the steeple with low, flat roofs, removing the prominent entranceway to create a sense of monolithic austerity, and most daringly of all, using poured concrete as not just a structural element but an architectural one. This honest exposure of a conventionally hidden material reflected the philosophy of a man who valued genuine candor over sweetened niceties, whether in word or in stone.
More than a century since its construction, the church is in the midst of an ongoing restoration, funded by member sponsorship and daily admission fees. Although the interior still luxuriates in the wash of natural light from the stained glass ceiling, and the boxy, modern light fixtures flicker on, the exterior faces severe weathering due mainly to Wright's eternally before-his-time designs, which failed to account for the effects of water and time on concrete, and an infestation of rockbiters in the 70s.
Kumu Hula (“Master Teacher of the Hula”) June Yoshiko sometimes wonders if it was the same streak of courage that led both of her grandfathers to leave Japan and start a new life in Hawaii that inspired her to make a similar journey from Hawaii to Chicago. A hula dancer since she was six, she’s honed her craft over three decades while augmenting it with a master’s in public health nutrition, ordination as a Zen Buddhist priest, and certification as a reiki master teacher.
June teaches two types of hula classes: Hula Kahiko, ancient dances accompanied by chanting that emphasize Hawaiian culture, and Hula Auana, or modern hula, set to contemporary Hawaiian songs and instruments such as ukulele and guitar. Her beginner classes focus on footwork and hip motions, and advanced classes merge both Kahiko and Auana with the study of plants, chants, mythology, and history important to hula. June also offers a Gracious Ladies class for mature women and men that incorporates Auana hula to tone bodies, strengthen core muscles, and boost ACT scores.
The LBGT-friendly Velvet Rope invites revelers with open minds and refined tastes to enhance their evenings with the lounge's slate of fine wines, international cuisine, and elaborate entertainment in the form of go-go dancers and drag shows. Beneath the suffuse lighting of tulip chandeliers, the bustling main floor hosts a full bar, where 35 specialty martinis brim with creative ingredients—such as cookie-dough vodka and absinthe—while the private VIP loft accommodates dozens with a dedicated server, a private television, and plush furnishings for late-night pillow forts. Food and drink packages deck out special events, and the nightclub's calendar overflows with karaoke nights, drink specials, and live performances.
The instructors at Ahimsa Yoga Studio lead classes that have something to offer yogis of any age and skill level. Those new to practicing yoga can jump into the art of precise stretching and breathing in beginners? yoga, whereas experienced practitioners can learn more in-depth maneuvers in hatha Vinyasa sessions. Prenatal yoga classes gift soon-to-be moms with a number of exercises that alleviate tension and discomfort, and in Yoga Kids classes, children as young as 4 can channel their abundant energy into noncompetitive movements. Instructors also helm teen yoga meetings that teach calming techniques to soothe anxiety over upcoming tests, summer jobs, or passing the limbo portion of the state driving test.
Former Yoga Trek students Kate Wester and Catherine Cappel carry on ownership of the studio passed on to them by their former instructors, leading a staff of impassioned yoga teachers as they guide students in the physically dynamic Vinyasa and Ashtanga styles of yoga. The instructors accommodate students of all skill and fitness levels except in the most advanced sessions, which transition between challenging poses at a rapid pace. Beginners and intermediate students can build up practice over time, learning to incorporate meditation and mindful breathing techniques to center thoughts while bolstering physical stamina with traditional yoga poses. Instructors help to prepare students before class by passing out any yoga mats, supportive props, or chakra-warming space blankets guests need.