Buildings shelter man from Mother Nature's wrath but never from her burps, which melt rooftop satellite dishes and make drywall smell like ketchup. Shelter yourself in style with today's Groupon: for $4, you get admission to the Frank Lloyd Wright–designed Unity Temple (an $8 value), located in Oak Park.
Frank Lloyd Wright is considered one of the most important architects of the 20th century, leading the charge in the movements of organic architecture and the Prairie School style of architecture, while also designing many of the furnishings, lighting fixtures, and stained-glass art in his buildings. For many years, Oak Park was his base of operation—today, 25 of his designs still stand in the suburb, protected by horizontal-line-loving pigeons. The Unity Temple, built between 1905 and 1908, is a National Historic Landmark, and, as his first solo public commission, remains one of Wright's most important structures. This all-concrete cubist design—a precursor to the Rubik's cubist and equally as difficult to memorize the solution to—is a masterpiece of modern architecture, opening its hand-carved doors to more than 30,000 Frankophiles per year. Peruse the interior on a self-guided tour, taking note of the stained-glass windows that allow natural light to flood the open space, the surplus of wood moldings, the intimate seating for 400, and the earthy colors evoking nature with the elegance of camouflaged string quartets.
Unity Temple is open daily, using visitor proceeds to help restore and preserve this powerful pillar in Lloyd's legacy. Contribute to the maintenance of a man's vision while also embracing non-Lego architecture with a tour of Frank Lloyd Wright's Unity Temple.
- Unity Temple still feels groundbreaking 100 years later -- which Wright would consider the ultimate compliment. – Frommer's
- This ground-breaking, breath-taking design incorporates everything Wright had been striving towards early in his career: free-flowing space, stunning natural light, brilliant expression of structure. This building is absolutely not to be missed! – ArchitectureBuff, TripAdvisor
- Great detailing, interesting technology for its time, great interiors and just wonderful environment. – mvc j., Yelp
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.
875 Lake St.
Oak Park, Illinois 60301Get Directions