Unity Temple, Oak Park by Frank Lloyd Wright | Design
Unity Temple is one of the most sacred buildings in the United States and is a Unitarian Universalist church. The Unity Temple which is located in 875 Lake Street, Oak Park, Illinois, United states was designed by the American architect Frank Lloyd Wright in the year 1905 for the Unitarian congregation. The Temple is said to be one of the most important works of the architect Frank Lloyd Wright. The Unity Temple was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1971.
The Unity Temple architect Wright described it as his “most important contribution to the modern architecture.” The congregation asked Frank Lloyd Wright to design the church’s new plan after it got struck by lightning and got burned down. Wright design for the building, with the use of reinforced concrete and modern architecture, broke all the convention rules of American religious architecture.
Wright planned the Unity Temple while keeping in mind to design two separate spaces, each for a different purpose; one for the worship of the God and other for the service of the humanity or mankind. The structure of the building is thereby divided into two different spaces, allowing his idea to be executed.
The idea of having two separate areas for each of the individual function enables to have a specific atmosphere in the church. The Unity Temple plan by Wright consists on uniting two buildings with the help of a common entrance. This entrance from the exterior looks as a single doorway and is not visible to the visitor from the outside.
The building is also very well known for its interior design. Wright explained it as, “Unity temple is where you will find the first real expression of my idea that the space within the building is the reality of that building.” With the repetitive use of decorative elements, the cubical geometry of the hall, and visual surfaces, architect Frank Lloyd Wright created a place which he described as “my little jewel box.”
The space designed for worship is four-storeyed with seating space on three sides of the room on each level so that each person is in a range of 40 feet from the main worship space. Wright designed the Unity Temple worship room as such that there are no windows on the wall facing towards the street, thus restricting noise from causing distractions during the worship. The transepts of the church consist of square stained glass which provides the building to have natural light.
The reinforced concrete used in the Unity Temple construction was poured on site, which made it the first of its kind. Also, the concrete gave the church look of a monument. Reinforced concrete also served as the material used for molding the exterior of Unity Temple.
The Unity Temple exterior has gone through extensive damage because of the water overflowing through the concrete structure, which was a result of undersized drainage system being installed by Wright in order to avoid gutters on the building’s roof. Now the Unity Temple Restoration Foundation keeps monitoring and restoring this structure.
The Unity Temple second room is often used for community events and various concerts, which fulfills the architect purpose of creating two different spaces.