The Chicago-based John Ronan Architects has won a competition to design the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust’s new Visitor and Education Center in Oak Park, Illinois, just in time for the Trust’s 45th anniversary. The new visitor center will become the main entrance to Frank Lloyd Wright’s former home and studio, one of five sites the Trust maintains in Chicago, and will expand the Trust's footprint in Oak Park by 20,000 square feet, including an outdoor plaza. “This is the most important initiative since the Trust’s founding and restoration of the home and studio,” wrote the Trust’s board chairman Bob Miller. “It will ensure that Wright’s legacy remains vital to future generations. Ronan’s proposal was chosen for its design simplicity, quiet presence within the site, and use of materials referencing the site and surrounding neighborhood.” The center will contain a new reception hall with its own multimedia programming, a ticketing and information area, and a shop. Outside, the new landscaped plaza will connect the visitor center with the existing buildings and will be used to host lectures and other public gatherings. The education center component will include a design studio for student and family classes, a display area for student and professional work, and a conference room. More than just getting a new building, the Trust will also reorganize its existing facilities. The Trust’s offices, which currently reside in a building from the 1860s owned by Wright’s mother, will be converted into a library and center for curatorial research. Additionally, the home and studio garage will be converted into a gallery for the Trust’s permanent collection. John Ronan Architects beat out a shortlist of Chicagoan firms for the project, including Krueck + Sexton, Pappageorge Haymes, Perkins + Will, and Vinci Hamp Architects. The plan must first win approval from the Village of Oak Park, and no estimated completion date has been provided yet.
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Free and open to the public Click here to RSVP Lost, forgotten and saved — Chicago’s historic buildings encounter various fates in their lifetime and their stories are constantly evolving. This panel discussion, moderated by Anne Sullivan (School of the Art Institute Chair of Historic Preservation), revisits key moments of success and failure in the history of preservation activism, advocacy and architectural solutions to adaptive reuse. Hear from several prominent speakers as they bring what has been learned into conversation with preservation challenges of today. Through dialogue, panelists will share their experience and insight into some of the diverse kinds of efforts — legal, political, design, cultural — required to change perceptions, find new uses, and rally communities around saving their treasures. Speakers:
- Lee Bey – Writer, photographer, and architecture critic
- Lisa DiChiera – Director of Advocacy, Landmarks Illinois
- Eleanor Gorski – Bureau Chief, Planning, Historic Preservation and Sustainability at the Chicago Department of Planning and Development
- John Vinci, FAIA – Principal, Vinci Hamp Architects
Chicago architect John Vinci will receive this year’s lifetime achievement award from the AIA Chicago, the local chapter announced in June. Vinci’s work includes preservation activism—he helped reconstruct Louis Sullivan’s Chicago Stock Exchange Trading Room inside the Art Institute of Chicago—and original designs like the Arts Club of Chicago and the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame. He is a principal of the design firm Vinci Hamp Architects. “No one has moved so effortlessly from past to present to future as John Vinci,” AIA Chicago executive vice president Zurich Esposito said in a statement. “His designs are rooted in history and informed by his scholarship yet most certainly of our time.” Vinci will be feted at Designight, AIA Chicago’s 59th Annual Design Excellence Awards, at Navy Pier on October 24. Last year’s recipient was Stanley Tigerman. Read more about Vinci at the Art Institute of Chicago's website, where he talks to Betty J. Blum about his career, design philosophy, and discovering preservation while at the Illinois Institute of Technology:
If you believe in something and fight for it, it's a strong statement about the society. And certainly preservation has had a hold on the society. Cities are rethinking themselves."