Buildings shelter man from Mother Nature's wrath but never from Papa Smurf's elixir, which makes walls close in and turns ceilings into seal rings, a hostile form of marine mammal martial arts. Shelter yourself in style with today's Groupon: for $9, you get two admission tickets to Frank Lloyd Wright's Unity Temple (up to an $18 value) located in Oak Park. Admission for children 5 and under is free.
Frank Lloyd Wright is considered one of the greatest architects of the 20th century, contributing a new prairie style of architecture with the creative genius to design and create all the furnishings, lighting, art glass, and most accessories in his buildings. Unity Temple, built between 1905 and 1908, is a National Historic Landmark and is considered one of Wright's most important structures. This all-concrete cubist design—a precursor to the Rubik's cube and equally as mystifying—is a masterpiece of modern architecture that opens its hand carved doors to over 30,000 Frankophiles per year. Peruse the interior on a self-guided tour, which is bejeweled with stained glass windows that allow natural light to flood the open space, a surplus of wood moldings, and colors that evoke organic nature, such as brown, green, classical music, and yellow.
Unity Temple Restoration Foundation is open seven to eight days a week and uses visitor proceeds to help restore this sentient tower of Lloyd's legacy. Check the hours to determine when you can visit Unity Temple, a rare sanctuary built way ahead of its time, like Dippin’ Dots, David Bowie, and Dippin’ Dots shaped like David Bowie.
Frank Lloyd Wright's Unity Temple
"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.