A few weeks ago, I visited the Robie House in Chicago, Illinois for the first time ever. It has been called one of the most important works of American residential architecture and was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. It is technically on the campus of the University of Chicago in the South Side of Chicago Hyde Park neighborhood.
Everything was designed by Wright, from the actual home to the carpets and furniture. The overhanging eaves, horizontal bands and sturdy structure are all what make this one of the best examples of Prairie style architecture. While much of this property is original, there are some replicas in place when the original gates and furniture had been destroyed.
Just like with the Darwin Martin House, the entryway to the house interior is purposefully unclear. The cement pots and much of the design for this property are repeated here just three years after Wright completed the Martin estate.
I've been on a few tours of Frank Lloyd Wright estates, including Graycliff, Falling Waters, and the Darwin Martin House, but this one had the most laid back mid-western Chicago Bears loving guide. Sometimes guides can be a bit prim and proper, so it was nice having this guy show us around, although he did confuse my brother for my husband.
One of my favorite parts of Wright's designs are his window panes. These were absolutely beautiful. The color only shows on the inside so that it would be more cost effective for the Robie's. The guide told us this was the only house that Wright completed under-budget.
Another reason why I love FLW is is incorporation of the outside, inside. Large windows are a faucet of every home with special attention taken to the way the sunlight coming in would affect those in the house during different times of day. It's a shame that the Robie family only lived here for a year.
The horizontal lines of the exterior were achieved by using these long bricks with gray cement under and on top of them. Brown cement was used between the bricks horizontally so that the horizontal look would be more dramatic. Again, more geometry is see in the gate. Unfortunately this is not an original, but I believe it is pretty exact to the original.
The more Frank Lloyd Wright estates I visit, the more I enjoy his work and the more difficult it is for me to articulate why. I love bringing the outside in, geometric shapes, and so much thought put into everything. Gold and brass accents also do not hurt. I like thinking about the time that these were constructed and the feeling of promise that these owners had. It was a time when so much as new and being done. This house had a three car garage when most people didn't own a car. It was 1900's version of opulent. And opulence at that time included a great deal of thought.
On our way walking back to the bus, we passed by this gem. It's the Isidore Heller House, for sale, a national historic landmark. The sign outside read:
Designed in 1896 by Frank Lloyd Wright, the Heller House is one of the most important surviving examples of his emerging Prairie Style. In a significant departure from the conventional fashion of the day, Wright fused his own geometric style with the rich decorative detail characteristic of his mentor, Louis Sullivan. A Beaux Arts Prieze on the third floor was executed by sculptor Richard Bock. The house possesses national significance in commemorating the architectural history of the United States of America. The master bathroom featured a separate shower stall and bathtub.
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