Unity Temple

This was Frank Lloyd Wright’s first major public building and is still considered one of his greatest achievements. 

Unity Temple is a church in Oak Park that Frank Lloyd Wright designed in 1905. He called it his “jewel” and it’s still considered to be one of his most significant buildings. At the time it was revolutionary, with an elegant cubist design. The building was made from poured concrete, unheard of at the time, and it had no real resemblance to other existing religious architecture.

The building is just a short walk from the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio in Oak Park (ten minutes west of the Loop). Take a self-guided tour, and then spend some time exploring the surrounding neighborhood. Wright designed many houses in the area, and there are nice restaurants and shops close by.

Wright himself was a Unitarian, although his mother got him the job to design the church after the congregation’s previous temple burnt down. It took nearly four years to build and was finished in 1909.

As you walk through the building, be sure to stop and admire the details. Wright designed everything, including the stained glass windows and furniture. To reduce noise, there are no windows at street level. Natural light flows in from stained glass windows along the tops of the walls and roof. The spaces were designed to be efficient, but visually large. His use of space was one of Wright’s trademarks.

This temple is still owned and used as a church by the Unitarian Universalist Congregation, and is open to the public daily, except when occasional restoration work is being done. Check the website before you visit for opening times.