A Visit To The Robie House

A few years ago, I had the chance to take a tour of Frank Lloyd Wright's Robie House.  The Robie House is located in Chicago on the campus of the University of Chicago and was actually donated to the university in 1963. Design was begun in 1908 and the house was ultimately completed, including interior finishes and furnishings, in 1911. It is considered one of the definitive works of Wright's Prairie style period. It was also one of the last homes he designed in that style.

The Robie House as seen from the corner of S. Woodlawn Ave & E. 58th St. 

The house is noted for its exaggerated horizontals - expressed through continuous concrete caps & bases, light-colored mortar joints, and extreme roof overhangs. In this case the cantilevered overhangs are supported by steel beams concealed within the overall roof structure.

The motor court (off E. 58th St.) serves as the main entry for tours.  The garage now houses the front office and gift shop.

The main entrance of the home is actually tucked around the backside of the home off S. Woodlawn Avenue. 

In the late '90s, the university moved its operations out of the house and turned over the management of tours, fundraising, & restoration to the Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust.  At the time of my tour, an extensive exterior restoration had recently been completed.  A companion interior restoration is well underway, if not nearly complete or complete as well, that will return the home to the state it was in when it was initially completed.

Standing on the west porch looking back toward the "prow" of the living room. 

Standing on the west porch looking back (east) towards one of the living room doors.  To the right is E 58th St. 

The tour I went on was  the standard guided tour of the first two levels of the home and interior photography was not permitted.  I have collected a number of photos, both interior & exterior / new & historic, which you can view  on my Pinterest page.  The Preservation Trust also runs a Private Spaces Tour which gets you access to rooms not seen on the regular tour - including the third floor bedrooms.  It appears that personal photography is even allowed on that tour.  In addition to this, the Trust has a number of other tours, workshops, and events which can allow you to experience this unique home.

Looking back toward the entrance from the west porch. 

Along E 58th St., Wright had the contractor use a light colored mortar on the horizontal brick joints for emphasis. 

Despite its status as one of Frank Lloyd Wright's most iconic designs, I have found relatively few books about it.  To date, I have only found three concise (thin) softcover titles.

I also found these two activities which allow children to explore the house in three dimensions.

Of course, the Frank Lloyd Wright marketing machine can't simply let it go at that - not when the designs can be applied to a variety of products!   Here are a few...

And, if you have money to burn, you can even find replica light fixtures and garden urns