Following the completion of an $11-million renovation, the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Frederick C. Robie House in Chicago reopened to the public on March 29, 2019. Built in 1910, the rectangular residence, with its 20-foot-long cantilevered roof and leaded glass windows, came to epitomize the Prairie style. “This restoration has brought back the magic of the house,” said John Rafkin, Chairman of the Robie House Restoration Committee. “As proud stewards of the Robie House, we welcome visitors from the neighborhood, city, region, and around the world to share in a unique and profound architectural experience.”
Local firm Harboe Architects oversaw the restoration, which restored the building’s original colors, wall textures, lighting, windows, millwork, and cabinetry. Semi-transparent yellow and ochre paint were used to match Wright’s original vision for the interior, while the ground level’s floor was reproduced in magnesite. A replica of the house’s leaded-glass front entry door was also installed after the original was destroyed in a 1960s student demonstration. “Restoration is an ongoing process, a responsibility passed from one generation to the next, to preserve great monuments in perpetuity,” said Celeste Adams, the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust’s CEO. “With support from the Getty Foundation through its Keeping It Modern Initiative, the Trust is completing a Conservation Management Plan for the Robie House.”
The University of Chicago Laboratory School will host a panel discussion titled “Renewing Wright’s Vision: Restoring the Robie House” on May 19 for those interested in learning more about the renovation. Panelists include Harboe Architects founder Gunny Harboe, Frank Lloyd Wright Trust’s preservation architect Karen Sweeney, and Chicago’s official cultural historian Tim Samuelson.