Unity Temple Announces $25 Million Restoration And More
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In conjunction with the recent National Park Service announcement that 10 Frank Lloyd Wright sites across the country have been submitted to UNESCO as a World Heritage nomination, the Unity Temple Restoration Foundation (UTRF) has confirmed that one of them, Unity Temple in Oak Park, IL, will undergo a comprehensive $25 million restoration and that UTRF has launched a fundraising campaign of the same magnitude. More after the jump... From a recent press release: “We...
In conjunction with the recent National Park Service announcement that 10 Frank Lloyd Wright sites across the country have been submitted to UNESCO as a World Heritage nomination, the Unity Temple Restoration Foundation (UTRF) has confirmed that one of them, Unity Temple in Oak Park, IL, will undergo a comprehensive $25 million restoration and that UTRF has launched a fundraising campaign of the same magnitude. More after the jump...
From a recent press release:
“We are honored and celebrate the World Heritage nomination of Unity Temple,” said Daniel Cummins, President of Unity Temple Unitarian Universalist Congregation (UTUUC). “The building is unique in that it retains the integrity of its original design purpose: serving as an inspiring house of worship as well as a center for community gatherings and cultural events.”
“Almost half of the $25 million campaign goal has been committed,” said Heather Hutchison, executive director of UTRF. “The Alphawood Foundation has made a magnanimous gift of $10 million and the Unity Temple Unitarian Universalist Congregation has raised $1.5 million,” she added. “We are hopeful others in Chicagoland, across the country and even throughout the world will join in this phenomenal philanthropic endeavor.”
"The Alphawood Foundation is committed to the preservation of Chicago's architectural legacy. We are truly delighted that Unity Temple has been nominated for World Heritage distinction. We hope our seed gift to the restoration campaign will inspire others to help restore this Frank Lloyd Wright modern masterpiece," said Jim McDonough, executive director, Alphawood Foundation.
Designed for Wright’s own Unitarian congregation in Oak Park, Illinois and dedicated in 1909, the cubic, flat-roofed structure is one of the earliest public buildings in America to feature exposed concrete. Wright considered the building one of his greatest achievements, describing Unity Temple as “my contribution to modern architecture.”
Wright’s bold, experimental design for Unity Temple incorporated the use of poured-in-place reinforced concrete, used primarily at the time for industrial structures. In a radical departure from traditional Western religious architecture, Wright designed the building to house two distinct spaces – Unity Temple, a four-level cubic sanctuary for worship, and Unity House, for the congregation’s social and cultural gatherings. The two spaces, connected by a single-story central foyer, feature decorative art glass ceilings. The building is praised for its geometric massing, use of modern materials, and innovative configuration of space.
UTRF and UTUUC have agreed upon a proposed comprehensive restoration project for Unity Temple that will restore the architecture and interior design of Unity Temple to its original condition, as well as implement improvements such as a geothermal heating/cooling system to ensure its functional sustainability through the next century.
During 2015, UNESCO representatives will conduct an on-site review of Unity Temple. A final decision on World Heritage designation will be made in summer 2016. World Heritage designation is an honorary distinction that identifies sites around the world as having “outstanding universal value”. It does not provide protections but requires that the owners and stewards of the site have made a commitment to its preservation and protection in perpetuity.
Frederick C. Robie House on the campus of University of Chicago in Hyde Park is also a World Heritage nomination. The Trust operates public tours and educational programs at Unity Temple in partnership with UTUUC and works collaboratively on research, education, and outreach initiatives for Unity Temple. The Trust’s website www.flwright.org and the UTRF website www.utrf.org will feature updates about the restoration project.
Please contact Heather Hutchison at 773-892-2839 or HHutchison@utrf.org for additional information.
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