Frank Lloyd Wright once called Oak Park's Unity Temple "my contribution to modern architecture," establishing it as one of the most notable structures he designed during his career. The home of Oak Park's Universalist congregation was completed in 1908, showcasing exposed concrete walls and striking interior design that were considered cutting edge at the time.
While Wright's design was forward-thinking, many of the materials he used to complete the structure were not up to modern standards, which has made preserving the leak-prone Unity Temple (which was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1970) a challenge. The Unity Temple Restoration Foundation began raising funds to restore the classic building to its former glory in 2013—a campaign that has resulted in a $25 million restoration of Wright's temple.
When the Unity Temple reopens for public tours in July, it will sport a long list of improvements including a strengthened (and leak proof) concrete structure and (for the first time ever) air conditioning. The restoration also focused on conservation of the building's existing features including the original art glass, skylights, pews, lighting and flooring.
If you want to take an early look at the Unity Temple, the Restoration Foundation will host a free neighborhood open house on Saturday, June 17 from 2 to 5pm. If you can't make it, take a peek at some photos of the restoration below.
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