The Robie House, designed by legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright, is widely considered one of the most significant buildings in the history of 20th Century architectural design. Located on the campus of the University of Chicago, in the heart of Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood, Robie House stands today as one of the best examples of the essence of Wright’s landmark “Prairie School”-style of architecture. Whether you’re a longtime admirer of Frank Lloyd Wright’s work, or brand-new to his ideas about residential forms, the Robie House remains a tremendous accomplishment.
Robie House History and Background Information
Frederick C. Robie, a graduate of the University of Chicago and a local businessman, commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to design a home for his family in 1908. It was completed in 1910. For all its modern-day acclaim, the Robie House has experienced a rather tumultuous history. Personal and financial troubles would drive Frederick C. Robie to sell the house just two years after its construction; from that point on, the home would exchange hands several times, with the last family to actually live in the house departing in 1926.
For the next seventy years, the house would alternately serve as an office, dormitory, classroom, and more. In 1963, Robie House was named a National Historic Landmark, while in 1966 it was an original selection for the very first list of the National Register of Historic Places. In 1997 the Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust took over control of Robie House; they continue to work today to completely restore the building to its original appearance.
What’s at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House
Robie House is one of the finest examples of legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s artistic vision. Wright designed not just the building itself, but every detail contained within the building—including everything from the home’s windows and lighting fixtures to its rugs, furniture, and more. This holistic design was emblematic of Wright’s belief that the best buildings weren’t just a foundation, walls, roof, and a layout, but rather a cohesive experience.
True to Wright’s style, Robie House is a largely horizontal structure full of seamlessly integrated spaces flowing one into the other unimpeded. The color scheme is relatively muted, with a heavy dose of natural wood and stone tones dominating; however, this is off-set by the copious amount of natural light that floods the interior through the house’s many large windows.
Multiple different kinds of tours of the Robie House are regularly available. The standard tour of the home is a guided affair that lasts approximately 50 minutes. There is also a special, even more in-depth 90-minute guided tour offered on Saturdays and Sundays. A 30-minute-long, self-guided audio tour is available as well. This option is available in 9 languages, including English, Spanish, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Portuguese, and French.
Food and drink are not permitted in the home, and there are no dining options on the grounds. However, as Robie House is situated directly next to the campus of the University of Chicago in the Hyde Park neighborhood, you’ll find a wide variety of dining, shopping, and lodging choices not far away. The campus of the University of Chicago is also home to a number of museums, and Robie House is only one mile from beautiful Jackson Park and the ever-popular Museum of Science and Industry.
Tips for Visiting Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House
- The Robie House is only open for tours on Thursdays through Mondays. The Robie House is closed every Tuesday and Wednesday.
- If you are visiting the other attractions in the Chicago area consider a Go Chicago Card to save some money. For one price it gives admission to many places including the nearby Museum of Science and Industry as well as Frank Lloyd Wright’s Home and Studio.
- Given the popularity of the Robie House, its relatively compact size, and the fact that tour-group sizes are strictly limited by the Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust, guests are strongly encouraged to reserve tour tickets in advance of their visit. More details about this suggested policy can be found on the Robie House website.
- If you’re planning to visit as part of a family or group with small children, you should be aware that the Robie House is not recommended for kids under the age of 8 years old. Along those same lines, no strollers are allowed inside Robie House.
- Given the Robie House’s location on a college campus in a dense urban area, parking here is very difficult; it’s pretty much street parking or nothing. As a result, you’ll want to arrive for your tour very early and give yourself a really healthy amount of time beforehand to make sure you find a parking spot. Otherwise, take public transportation. Robie House is near a handful of bus routes, and just about one half-mile’s walk from the Metra train’s 55th-56th-57th Street stop.
- For those with accessibility concerns, please be advised that only the first floor of the Robie House is wheelchair-accessible. Unfortunately, the second floor of the home is not.