In the Studio: Unity Grey


[Unity Grey (2012) /Image & Artwork: designslinger studio]

If you are a Frank Lloyd Wright fan, it's often hard to create a personal top 10 favorites
list. For a lot of us there are 20 top 10 buildings - not to mention furniture, art glass and fabric - constantly jockeying for those coveted top slots. Luckily as residents of the city of Chicago, many of our faves are just a hop, skip, jump and el-ride away. And one that always makes our top five, is the architect's 1909 Unity Temple in nearby Oak Park.


[Unity Temple (1909) Frank Lloyd Wright, architect /Image & Artwork: designslinger studio]

In an eventful and long-lived life, 1909 was a big year for Wright. He'd just finished designing a house for Frederick Robie, closed his Oak Park studio, and headed to Europe to oversee the publication of the now famous Wasmuth Portfolio, which modernists such as Walter Gropius and Mies van der Rohe credited with influencing their points-of-view on how a building could be built.


[Unity Grey - black key block /Image & Artwork: designslinger studio]

Wright didn't leave for Europe on his own, he was accompanied by Mamah Borthwick
Cheney, the wife of client Edwin Cheney, who became the architect's partner and muse until her horrific death at their Wisconsin home in 1914. Wright never returned to Oak Park as the master of Prairie School design, but some of his best work still resides on the streets of the west Chicago suburb.


[Unity Grey - print and lino plate /Image & Artwork: designslinger studio]

The poured concrete forms of the exterior of Unity Temple are such a beautiful study in mass and scale. And when you throw-in the dramatic display of light and shadow on the building's surface it was hard to do just one version. But this is where we started: one drawing, two blocks of color, and a brilliantly white sheet of thick French-made paper.

See this interpretation of Wright's inspirational temple at: Unity Grey.


 
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