Unity Temple Restoration

Unity Temple, Historic American Building Survey, The Library of Congress,   http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/il0318.sheet.00004a/

Unity Temple, Historic American Building Survey, The Library of Congress,   http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/il0318.sheet.00004a/

This summer, Frank Lloyd Wright's Unity Temple will undergo a $23 million restoration that will include both exterior and interior work and a significant upgrade to the building's heating a cooling system. During the work, tours will be suspended and the congregation will hold services in another location.

Exterior repairs include repairs to the concrete and skylights. Wright's system of downspouts was inadequate, allowing water damage to mar the concrete and a lack of expansion joints has caused cracking. In 1973 the concrete was carefully repaired and this work preserved the original appearance of the exterior, but the following decades has seen further damage -- the restoration master plan included extensive research to allow the new repairs to blend seamlessly into the 1973 surface. The building's skylights will also be repaired.

The interior of Unity Temple has not fared as well as the exterior. Wright put considerable thought into the textures and appearance of the interior surfaces and the effect of decorative plaster was an important aspect of his design. But a century of repairs -- including some surfaces covered with latex paint (yikes!) -- has altered much of Wright's intended affect. The restoration will remove the repaired surfaces and finished and restore the original appearance with recreated finishes. The art glass -- original and largely still in good condition -- will also be examined and repaired as needed.

Also included in the work is a new geothermal system. This will not only dramatically increase the building's energy efficiency (heating the building has been a significant expense for the congregation) but will, for the first time, allow the church to be cooled in the summer months. The system will also provide a means of humidity control that will help to preserve both the interior and exterior surfaces. The geothermal system will have no exterior equipment and will operate silently.

The restoration master plan has been in development for nearly 15 years, and is the work Harboe Architects. Gunny Harboe and his firm have extensive experience with major, historically important restoration projects (including S. R. Crown Hall on the campus of IIT and the Marquette Building and the Sullivan Center), and the firm has extensive experience with Frank Lloyd Wright sites (including the Robie House, Bach House, Emmons House).

During the restoration, tours of Unity Temple will be suspended, the final tour will be May 30, with plans to resume in 2017. The last Sunday service will be held June 7 and future services will be held at the United Lutheran Church.

You can donate to the restoration efforts here.

Unity Temple, Historic American Building Survey, The Library of Congress,   http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/il0318.photos.061739p/

Unity Temple, Historic American Building Survey, The Library of Congress,   http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/il0318.photos.061739p/

Unity Temple, Historic american Building Survey, The Library of congress.  http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/il0318.photos.061740p/

Unity Temple, Historic american Building Survey, The Library of congress.  http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/il0318.photos.061740p/

SC Johnson: Awesomer

Each year, SC Johnson creates a special, limited run exhibition of items from the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation -- the fruits of a 2011 agreement. This year's "At Home with Frank Lloyd Wright" exhibit is built around 50 lithographs from the Wasmuth Portfolio along with artifacts from the Dana Thomas House and the Heath House (both houses were featured in the Wasmuth Portfollio).

SC Johnson also offers tours of its Wright-designed buildings -- including the Research Tower, which had been inaccessible for years but is now open for tours on a limited schedule.

Check Mark Hertzberg's site for photos, find more information here and schedule your tour (required) here.

Wisconsin -- Tuesday is My Birthday, Here's What You're Going to Do

Tueaday is also Election Day in Wisconsin -- so, you know, go vote.

In Wisconsin you can register up to and including election day (same-day registration -- it must be awesome, I'd never lose an election)

The races on the ballot are primarily local, but these are the important races. Some of Wednesday's newly-elected city councilmen/women may be future newly-elected state senators.

There is also a sprited contest for a state Supreme Court seat --about which I, of course, have an opinion:

Thanks to the State of Arizona, You can Give Me a Nice Birthday Present

April 7 is my birthday. It's also Arizona Gives Day, your chance to support Arizona non-profits. The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation is one of those organizations. Given that the Foundation's mandate is so broad -- preservation and education and extending Wright's legacy -- any donation will help them accomplish something significant for all of us.

You can donate here.

If you live in Wisconsin, you're going to do something else for my birthday, but since it won't cost anything, go ahead and do this too.

Ingalls House For Sale

UPDATE: The Ingalls House will be listed this week, with a listing price of $1.325 million.

The Prairie Style Ingalls House in River Forest, Illinois will soon be offered for sale. Owned for the last 38 years by an architect, the house has been thoughtfully updated (the house was expanded in 1920 by William Drummond).

When the asking price will be $1.7 million and it will be offered by Pamela Tilton, daughter of the current owners and the listing agent for the Winslow house, another Wright in River Forest.

Building Tall on Chicago's Sandy Soil

(Image courtesy Art Institute of Chicago archives)

(Image courtesy Art Institute of Chicago archives)

Chicago's WBZE and the Chicago Architecture Foundation partnered on an episode and lengthy article, part of the Curious City podcast, about the difficulties of building skyscrapers on Chicago's sandy soil. The city is actually an extraordinarily unlikely location for a tall building revolution (Manhattan is nearly ideal), and architects have been forced to find inventive solutions to keep soaring buildings standing upright.

The Adler & Sullivan masterpiece, the Auditorium Building was an early, though not unblemished, success. Dankmar Adler designed, tested and refined a new foundation system for the massively heavy building (a process that Frank LLoyd Wright had a front-row seat to). Burnham & Root's Monadnock Building, even heavier than the Auditorium Building, required its own engineering achievements.