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Photograph: James Caulfield

Frank Lloyd Wright for beginners

If you're just starting to explore the work of acclaimed architect, you've come to the right place

Zach Long
Written by
Zach Long

Acclaimed architect Frank Lloyd Wright began his career in Chicago, helping develop the Prairie style of design as he created beautiful buildings in the city as well as the neighborhood surrounding his studio and home in Oak Park. Inspired by the Midwestern landscape, Wright designed horizontal homes that are filled with carefully considered details, such as intricate art glass decorations and custom furniture. If you want to step inside some of Wright's most notable creations, there's no better place to start than in the Chicago area. Begin your architectural journey by visiting these five Wright-designed structures in Chicago and Oak Park—most of which offer tours led by the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust.

Frank Lloyd Wright homes in Chicago

  • Attractions
  • Historic buildings and sites
  • Hyde Park

Begin your FLW education in Hyde Park at what’s widely considered to be the greatest example of his signature Prairie-style architecture. When the Robie House was built in 1910, its windows looked over the flat Midwestern plains. Today, the landmark is surrounded by the University of Chicago’s campus. A guided tour will take you inside the classic structure, where you can admire the original art glass accents, restored furniture and a fireplace that divides the home's living and dining areas.

45-minute guided tours: Thu–Mon 10am–3pm; $20.

  • Attractions
  • Historic buildings and sites
  • Rogers Park

One of Wright’s final Chicago-area projects, the Bach House squeezes the architect’s elegant designs into a compact Rogers Park lot. The home was named after its commissioner: the president of Chicago’s Bach Brick Co. Wright completed the building in 1915, just before he moved to Japan to supervise the construction of the Imperial Hotel. If you're looking for more than a tour, you can actually rent out the entire house—just know that it will cost considerably more than booking an Airbnb.

The Emil Bach House is not offering tours at this time.

  • Attractions
  • Historic buildings and sites
  • Loop

The Rookery was built in 1888 by architects Daniel Burnham and John Root, but the pair tapped Wright to renovate the lobby of this early Loop high-rise. The designer brightened the entryway with white marble embellishments and custom light fixtures. “He didn't ignore what was done in the space. He found ways to incorporate [Burnham and Root's] elements, while modernizing them,” Frank Lloyd Wright Trust Director of Tour Operations Christina Ruscitti said. While the Light Court is open to the public, you’ll need to take a tour if you want to ascend its spiral staircase.

30-minute guided tours: Tue, Thu, Fri 11am–1pm; $12.

  • Museums
  • Art and design
  • Oak Park

Travel to nearby Oak Park to walk through Wright’s personal abode, where he created more than a quarter of his life’s work during the 20 years he lived in the house. “It was his own personal laboratory,” Ruscitti said. “You see the beginnings of ideas that he later carried out.” Most of the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust's tours of Oak Park originate from this building, sending guests out into a neighborhood that contains the highest concentration of residences designed by the architect.

45-minute guided tours: Mon–Sun 10am–4pm; $20.

  • Things to do
  • Literary events
  • Oak Park

The austere concrete exterior of this active Unitarian Universalist church may not immediately seem as impressive as the Wright-designed residences in Oak Park, but the Unity Temple is one of the architect's most notable masterpieces. Step inside and you'll find a sanctuary outfitted with stained-glass skylights and a grand altar, all of which was designed by Wright to evoke a sense of serenity and reduce the noise of the adjacent street. “Whether or not you’re a spiritual person, you get an idea of the calm and peace that Wright intended you to have when you walk into the main sanctuary space,” Ruscitti said.

The Unity Temple is not offering tours at this time.

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