Unity Temple, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for his own Unitarian congregation in Oak Park, Illinois, remains an icon of early modern architecture, with its geometric design, strong massing, characteristic detailing, and use of exposed concrete.
But despite ongoing maintenance of this National Historic Landmark, the 1909 building has suffered extensive damage from years of water infiltration. Its precarious state prompted the National Trust for Historic Preservation to name Unity Temple one of “America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places” for 2009.
The annual list highlights architectural, cultural, and natural heritage sites at risk of destruction or irreparable damage. This year’s sites range from a single school building in Georgia to an entire mountain in New Mexico, from a 19th-century factory complex to such modern landmarks as Minoru Yamasaki’s 1966 Century Plaza Hotel.
Neglect, lack of funding, insensitive public policy, and natural forces — often working in combination — have put many of these buildings in jeopardy. Several of the listed sites are threatened with demolition to enable redevelopment.
Wright’s Hometown Masterwork
Reflecting on Unity Temple near the end of his life, Wright said, “That was my first expression of this eternal idea which is at the center and core of all true modern architecture. A sense of space, a new sense of space.”
Full article via Architecture Week
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