Viewing famous architecture can give one a true sense of anthropological history, much like visiting a natural history museum or scrutinizing a neighbor’s receipts. Study edifices past with today’s Groupon to Unity Temple in Oak Park. Choose between the following options:
- For $10, you get two adult tickets (up to a $20 value).
- For $18, you get four adult tickets (up to a $40 value).<p>
Considered to be the foremost architect of the 20th century, Frank Lloyd Wright designed Unity Temple toward the beginning of his career, outfitting it with all the lines, space, and geometry that have made the site a candidate for the World Heritage List and a National Historic Landmark flocked to by more than 30,000 people a year. Guests embark on a self-guided tour of the building to drink in the sharp lines of its outer columns, acute use of luminescence in its skylights, and Wright’s manipulation of space, which he called “the core of all true modern architecture.” All proceeds and spare buckets of Shellac go to the structure’s restoration effort, which aims to preserve Unity Temple so it can remain one of the 409 of 532 buildings devised by Wright that still stand today.
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.