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New Frank Lloyd Wright Buildings Opening To The Public

By Benjy Lipsman in Arts & Entertainment on May 2, 2014 4:00PM

Photo by Benjy Lipsman

We're big fans of Frank Lloyd Wright here at Chicagoist, so we're excited that even those of us who cannot afford to buy one of his designs can still experience some of his masterpieces not previously open to the public--all close enough for a day trip.

Right here in Chicago, the Emil Bach House has been turned into a luxury vacation rental and event space, allowing guests to stay overnight by renting out the entire three-bedroom home. Throughout the month of May, the cost is $750 a night, and then goes up to $1495 nightly. Tours are also available on Wednesdays through September, lasting 45 minutes for a cost of $12. Previously, this home has only been open to the public on a very limited basis during the Chicago Architecture Foundation's Open House Chicago.

In Racine, Wisconsin Wright's SC Johnson Wax Administration Building has been open to the public for free tours. But beginning today, his glass Research Tower will also be open to visitors (We've got our tour booked for tomorrow!). The tower was built in 1950, and is most famous for being clad in tubular glass meant to evoke test tubes used in the laboratories inside. In use until the 1980s, the building has sat dormant since. A restoration of parts of the tower were recently completed, allowing SC Johnson to open the facility to fans of Wright's architecture.

Finally Wright's only accessible home, located in Rockford, is opening for tours as of June 7. The Usonian ranch was designed for clients Kenneth and Phyllis Laurent to accommodate Mr. Laurent's wheel chair. The home was completed in 1952 for the couple, and Wright's design took into consideration the factors that could impact a paraplegic's ability to move around his home. For example, there are no thresholds in doorways and hallways were designed wide enough to allow for turning without backing a wheel chair up. The couple was happy enough with Wright's design that they lived in the home for 60 years. The couple sold the home to a preservation group a couple years ago, and after restoration The Laurent House will open for tours on the first and last weekend each month. Tours will cost $15 and advance reservations are required.