By: T.R. Slyder, TRSlyder@yahoo.com
I had a friend in town this weekend and did some touristy stuff in Chicago, so I figured I'd pass it along.
On Saturday I took a tour of Frank Lloyd Wright's 1909 Prairie House, The Robie House. The house is in the Hyde Park neighborhood which was primarily known as the neighborhood that houses The University of Chicago, but is now better known as the neighborhood that Barack Obama lives in. It's an intellectually-funky neighborhood and is definitely worth the trip.
The tour of the house was well worth it, but oddly included only four rooms of the house. Due to Chicago fire codes, a business is not allowed to operate their business in any building that is 1) over two floors tall that, 2) has only one staircase. So if the tours were conducted on all three floors, they would be violating the Chicago firecode. Further truncating the tour was the restoration of the building that put a few rooms off limits to us. Despite the access limitations, I still thought the tour was worth it. They compensate for the lack of display availability with tour guides that are extremely knowledgable and pasisonate about their jobs, and also excessively friendly.
The tour consisted of the foyer, living room, dining room and kitchen. The foyer had 7-feet-high ceilings and felt rather cramped, which is a signature of a Wright house. I learned that he wants visitors to not be able to see any of the house upon the first step inside, so that when they arrive to the family room they see the entire space and have a eureka/awe-inspiring moment.
The living room and dining room were essentially the same room and were separated by a long, flat fireplace that doubled as a partition between the two rooms. The tour guide showed us all the smallest details, and how every conceivable detail about the house was designed by Wright. What struck me the most about the tour was how consumed with details Wright must have been. He designed not just an astounding house, he designed the "art-glass" (like stained-glass, but only with the majority of the window being transparent, and the colored glass serving only as embellishment) windows and every house he designed has it's own pattern, he designed the rugs that also have a pattern unique to each house, he designed the mouldings that go around each light fixture like a laurel wreath, he designed ALL of the furniture for the house and made the owners agree to never change the furniture and that they must leave the furniture in the house if they move, he even designed dresses for the lady of the house to wear to match the architecture and decor.
It sounded reminiscent of a "Bridezilla" only like a male, architect version. But the house was remarkable.
Sunday, January 4, 2009
Labels: Frank Lloyd Wright