FL Wright’s home | Studio and Robie house
FRANK LLOYD ARCHITECT
Both of us being a fan of FL Wright’s work, we wanted to explore more of his designs around us. So this time we went to his home & studio at Oak creek and Robie house in Chicago, Illinois.
Booking for the Tour:
Advance booking is highly recommended for the interior guided tour. There are couple of other places also around here which are designed by him.
Interior photography is allowed inside Home & Studio for a small additional fee. But it is not allowed at Robie House.
WRIGHT’S HOME & STUDIO
LOCATION: 951 Chicago Ave, Oak Park, IL 60302
This residence was built by borrowing $5000 from Louis Sullivan in 1889. He lived here with his wife Catherine and six children. He was only twenty-two years old when he designed his own house and it was first of its style & unique design during that time. Later he added his studio block to the house where he experimented and developed his Prairie style. It is said that he never called his style to be prairie, his well-wishers and admirers named so! This house is not a prairie style though.
Our guide took us inside the house through the main entrance on the west side. In the exterior, you would immediately notice a big triangle (the gable) on the elevation. The house is placed far inside with ample front lawn & trees which frame the building with nature. Once you enter there is a small shielding space (Foyer) which leads to a spacious living room. The living area has two huge bay window areas with built in seating’s on two sides of the room. The heart of the house (as called by wright) is the fireplace. It carries their family motto “ Truth is life”
Then you pass through a small dining room. Later in 1895, Wright added a huge dining room on south side with his signature style high back wooden chairs & tables. He called this style of chair design as ‘creating room within a room ‘. He felt this brings the family closer & cozy in a huge dining room. In the same year, wright added a two storey extension in east side with children’s playroom in the first floor. Playroom room has a huge skylight & glass windows on north and south walls. This room also has a compact gallery above to watch over. Then you proceed to his children’s room which has gabled ceiling. Before Wright built his existing studio, he used this space as his work place. The house has undergone many changes and upgrades in decades according to their family needs and development of buildings around the property.
This annexure was completed in 1898. The entrance to the studio is from the North side. Also it was connected inside to his house for private use. Wright wanted his clients to know his style before they came to him. So he designed the façade and entrance to his office in such a way to depict his style. Once the clients are impressed with his style, they would be faced with the next challenge – finding the entrance door! You wouldnt find the door where it normally should be!
Once you do find it and enter the reception area, you will find a big table. This is where the drawings were discussed with the builders. Surprisingly, you can’t find any chairs around the table. Maybe he wanted the discussions to end crisp and quickly. 😛 . On the left is his remarkable two storey studio with octagonal ceiling & skylight. The space makes you feel wow considering the lighting it has and the ambiance provided for people who worked there for him. Still the drafting tables and some of the construction drawings are there. Wright’s cabin is placed in such a way to access directly from the reception and as well as from the studio. Every furniture, storages, window glass, hanging lights and lamps were designed by him. It was amazing to see the birth place of Prairie style!.
Visit here for interior photos by Cynthia Lynn.
BUILT : 1908-1909
LOCATION: 5757 South Woodlawn Avenue, Chicago, IL 60637
You can book your tour here. This is the first and best example for Wright’s Prairie style of architecture. This house stands out of all the other houses around the place.
The entire building is approximately 9,062 square feet (841.9 m2).
The entrance to the house on the Northwest side and is highly deceiving for a first time visitor. Wright made it purposefully to give some privacy to the family in the house. The house was designed with parking space available for three cars. Which is now being used as museum/store.
In the ground floor, there is a Billiards room (west), huge indoor children playroom(east), fireproof room, Reception area, a powder room and two staircases. One leads to the servant’s quarters and another is a main central stairway to the living room in First floor. The door from the playroom leads to the enclosed garden area. Even here in the reception room, you can’t see any furniture or a painting/art to stare at. This is just an shielding space before getting into the living area.
Once you climb the staircase, there is a passage with low ceiling that leads to the huge bright living area. Wright’s concept of moving from a narrow dark passage to a bright open room is well applied here. The rectangular living area has a veranda used for children to play on its shorter side and the lengthy side has series of twelve doors with full height art glass that leads to the covered passage from the verandah. Here, to my surprise he had designed continuous planter box instead of the handrail with inbuilt sprinkler system to water the plants – remember it was 1908!
On the other side of the living room is the dining area, which is separated from the living with a fire place and open staircase. The flooring is carpet with his own unique design of the house. From the dining room you can access the pantry area and kitchen. From kitchen, there is an access to the servant’s quarters which has two rooms. These rooms now serve as office space for the management authority.
This floor has the master bedroom, dressing area, bathroom and a balcony facing west. On north side are two more bedrooms and bathroom. As we took the general tour, we were not allowed to visit the second floor. So If you plan to visit, then choose the detailed interior tour to see these areas.
The entire house was built with a unique red brick to emphasize the horizontal, which helps to bring out wrights style. The vertical joints were filled with brick color mortar and less thick than the horizontal joint, which were filled with cream-color mortar. The doors and windows have art glass with abstract designs (30 – 60 angles) and color. Wright used similar abstract designs in ceilings, carpet, lights and furniture inside the house. Overall, his style of architecture is well portrayed through the elements like overhangs, planter urns, lintels, horizontal beams, masonry arrangement and copings.
One single day is not enough to visit all the places designed by Wright in and around Chicago. So book and plan your trip accordingly.