Friday, May 15, 2009

Wrighting Wrongs at the Robie

Don't miss the next installment of this year's series of speakers at the Martin House, as Karen Sweeney, AIA, Director of Restoration for the Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust, speaks on the topic of Restoration of the Robie House: A Work in Progress, this coming Thursday evening, 5/21 at 7 PM in the Greatbatch Pavilion [call (716) 856-3858 to make a reservation].

Sweeney has been o
n the staff of the Preservation Trust - the Chicago-area organization that preserves and interprets Frank Lloyd Wright's Oak Park Home and Studio and the Frederick C. Robie House - for over twenty years. During that time, she has served on the Home and Studio restoration committee, and more recently, coordinated restoration on the Robie House, often cited as the pinnacle of Wright's work in the Prairie period.

The Robie House was built for Frederick C. Robie and his family in the developing Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago in 1908-1910. Certain elements of the Robie House's plan are more akin to Buffalo's Heath House than they are to the Martin House - e.g., Robie is an adaptation of the Prairie design vocabulary to a long, narrow
city lot. But with its dramatically cantilevered planes, extensive horizontal bands of art glass and integrated, prism-like living / dining space, the house is a more refined manifestation of Wright's "dampfer" (or "ship-like") variation of the Prairie House.

The Robie House has faced many of the same restoration challenges as the Martin House, including procurement of appropriate reproduction building materials. For example, the Preservation Trust's search for replacement Roman brick led them to the same source as the Martin House: Belden Brick of Ohio, who produced a red Roman brick for Robie, and a golden variety for Martin. With many parallels of both design history and restoration, this should be an interesting presentation on the preservation of our si
ster site in Chicago.

For more information on the history and restoration of the Robie House, visit the Preservation Trust's web pages for the site.

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