CHICAGO, IL ( March 26, 2019 ) The Frank Lloyd Wright Trust announced the reopening of the Frederick C. Robie House on March 29, concluding the final phase of a comprehensive restoration at a total cost of $11 million. A masterpiece of the Prairie style and a precursor of modernism in architecture, now restored to its 1910 vision, the Robie House was designated by the American Institute of Architects as one of the 10 most significant structures of the twentieth century. With its bold horizontal lines, daring cantilevers, stretches of leaded glass windows and open floor plan, the Robie House inspired an architectural revolution.
John Rafkin, Chairman of the Robie House Restoration Committee and Vice-Chairman of the Trust Board of Directors, stated, "This restoration has brought back the magic of the house. As proud stewards of the Robie House, we welcome visitors from the neighborhood, city, region and around the world to share in a unique and profound architectural experience."
The restoration of the house interiors is a significant transformation of the entry ground floor and spectacular main floor. This phase of work includes the main entry hall and stairway, billiard room and children's playroom on the ground floor, and the living room, dining room and guest bedroom on the main floor.
The exacting interior restoration reflects Wright's original vision in coloration, wall textures, lighting, leaded-glass windows and doors, millwork and cabinetry. While retaining the original plaster as much as possible, a textured lime-putty plaster technique was applied to the walls, replicating the original process. The salmon, pale yellow and ochre palette of coloration has been applied in several layers of semi-transparent paint recreating Wright's unique autumnal palette. A magnesite floor throughout the ground level reproduces the original material, and a recreated leaded-glass front entry door to the house has been installed. The original door was destroyed in a student demonstration of the 1960s.
The original inglenook surrounding the living room fireplace has been reconstructed along with cabinetry in the dining room and children's playroom. Wall-mounted brass light scones, suspended glass globe lights, and semi-concealed lay lights in the ceiling combine original and recreated light fixtures resulting in a luminous mix of incandescent and natural light. Several items of original furniture, including the dining table and chairs, return to Robie House on loan from the Smart Museum of Art.
Celeste Adams, Trust President & CEO, observed, "Restoration is an ongoing process, a responsibility passed from one generation to the next, to preserve great monuments in perpetuity. With support from the Getty Foundation through its Keeping It Modern initiative, the Trust is completing a Conservation Management Plan for the Robie House. This comprehensive document will include policies that will guide preservation work for many decades to come."
Lead preservation architect for the Robie House restoration is Gunny Harboe of Harboe Architects and Bulley & Andrews is the general contractor.
Major funders of the restoration include: Alphawood Foundation Chicago, Pritzker Foundation, Hickory Foundation, Walton Family Foundation, Meijer Foundation, Tawani Foundation, John and Jeanne Rowe, Friends of Heritage Preservation, Richard and Mary L. Gray, and Viñoly Family Foundation.
TOURS AND PROGRAMS
Robie House: A Modern Home, an interior guided tour; Robie House Past and Present, a new self-guided walking audio tour in eight languages; and Robie House In-Depth, a tour of both public and private areas of the house with additional information about its history, restoration and significance.
Frank Lloyd Wright, The Art Institute, and Robie House 1900-1910, lecture by Kathryn Smith, April 5, 3 pm, at the Art Institute of Chicago. A partnership of the AIC Department of Architecture and Design and Frank Lloyd Wright Trust.
Renewing Wright's Vision: Restoring the Robie House, panel discussion, May 19, 3 pm at theUniversity of Chicago Laboratory School. Moderated by Trust curator David Bagnall, panelists include City of Chicago cultural historian Tim Samuelson, Robie House preservation architect Gunny Harboe, and Trust architect Karen Sweeney, followed by a cocktail reception at the Robie House.
Trust education programming is offered in public, charter and private schools throughout Chicago and the area surrounding Robie House, providing both on-site and in-classroom learning experiences. A 2019 grant from the Society of Architectural Historians ( SAH ) will support the Trust's ongoing work to connect a restored Robie House to neighborhood schools. Detailed information and tickets online at flwright.org .
From a Frank Lloyd Wright Trust press release
ABOUT ROBIE HOUSE AND THE FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT TRUST
The Frank Lloyd Wright Trust is preservation steward and sole operator of the Robie House, located at 5757 South Woodlawn Ave in Chicago ( Hyde Park ), Il. The building remained open to the public during most of the restoration work, welcoming national and international audiences. The Trust also works collaboratively with the University of Chicago, owner of the property, to provide university students and faculty access to the house for edification and enjoyment.
The Frank Lloyd Wright Trust seeks to engage, educate and inspire the public through interpretation of Frank Lloyd Wright's design legacy and preservation of his original sites in Chicago. Owner of Wright's Home and Studio, the Trust operates public tours and programs at five Chicago area historic sites: Wright's Home and Studio ( 1889/1898 ) and Unity Temple ( 1905-08 ) in Oak Park; the Frederick C. Robie House ( 1908-10 ) located on the campus of University of Chicago in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood; The Rookery Light Court ( 1905 ) in the Chicago Loop; and Emil Bach House ( 1915 ) in Chicago's Rogers Park neighborhood.