The mission of the Trust is to engage, educate and inspire the public through interpretation of Frank Lloyd Wright’s design legacy and preservation of his original sites for future generations.
Engaging a broad and diverse local, regional, national, and international audience through a dynamic cultural tourism program, a comprehensive and interactive website, and consistent marketing and communications initiatives.
Affirming the contemporary relevance of Wright’s design legacy by educating K-12 students through innovative design programs that nurture individual vision; by presenting quality adult enrichment programs, national/international travel programs; and by producing electronic/print publications.
Inspiring our audience through powerful aesthetic experiences of authentic Wright sites, preserved to Wright’s original design vision.
For Future Generations
Developing the Trust’s resources and maintaining the Trust’s financial stability in order to sustain Wright’s original sites for future generations and ensure a lasting and secure future for the Trust supported by strong community and business relationships and by dynamic Board engagement.
The Trust was established in 1974 as the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio Foundation, a not-for-profit organization, to acquire and preserve Wright's Home and Studio in Oak Park as the place where Wright formulated the architectural principles he retained throughout his career. In 1975, the Home and Studio became a co-stewardship property of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the Home and Studio Foundation embarked on its mission to restore and operate the building as a historic house museum.
In 1976, the Home and Studio was declared a National Historic Landmark. The ensuing $3+ million restoration was completed in 1987, at which time it received the American Institute of Architects' prestigious National Honor Award.
In February 1997, the Home and Studio Foundation, by invitation of University of Chicago entered into an agreement to assume sole responsibility for the management, operation and restoration of Wright's Robie House, located on the University of Chicago campus. In 2000, the Home and Studio Foundation changed its name to the Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust to better reflect the dual stewardship of the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio and Wright’s Robie House.
In December 2010, the Trust realized a long-standing dream of a downtown location by opening central offices at The Rookery, a Chicago landmark building. The Rookery contains one of Wright's most dramatic interior compositions in its luminous central light court.
In May 2012, the Trust acquired sole ownership of the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio from the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The transfer of ownership marked a new chapter in the history of the Trust.
In 2012, the Trust began operation of tours at the Emil Bach House, a Chicago landmark on Chicago’s north side shoreline neighborhood of Rogers Park, and in September 2013, the Trust assumed responsibility for the operation of tours and programs at Unity Temple, three blocks from Wright’s Home and Studio in Oak Park.
In December 2013, the organization's name became Frank Lloyd Wright Trust, while the mission remains unchanged.
The Trust Organization
Today the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust has 65 employees and 650 volunteers who serve an audience of 150,000 site visitors and 1 million virtual visitors from around the world each year. Trust activities include tours, workshops, teacher training, student internships, school outreach, family activities, multi-media programs, a restoration resource center, library/archive, a membership program, a travel program, and multi-channel merchandising operated by the Trust and the Trust in alliance with its Chicago area partner organizations. The Trust is governed by a Board of Directors to whom the President and CEO reports. The Trust receives donations and grants from local, national and international individuals, foundations and corporations.
UNESCO World Heritage Nomination
In January 2015, Robie House and Unity Temple were nominated to the UNESCO World Heritage List, along with eight other Frank Lloyd Wright sites, by the U. S. Department of the Interior. World Heritage designation is an honorary distinction that identifies sites of outstanding universal value around the world. It does not provide protections but requires that the owners and stewards of the site have made a commitment to its preservation and protection in perpetuity. Robie House is Wright’s definitive expression of the Prairie style and the most forward thinking of all his Prairie houses. Unity Temple's bold design and unconventional materials make it one of Wright's most sophisticated accomplishments. During 2015 UNESCO representatives will conduct an on-site review and a final decision on World Heritage designation will be made in summer 2016.
Trust Sites and Locations
The Trust conducts ongoing historic preservation and operates public tours, programs and events at major Wright sites in five Chicago area locations:
Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio (1889/1898), 951 Chicago Avenue, Oak Park, IL 60302
The Rookery Light Court (1905-07), 209 South LaSalle Street, Chicago, IL 60604
Unity Temple (1905-08), 875 Lake Street, Oak Park, IL 60301
Frederick C. Robie House (1908-10), 5757 South Woodlawn Avenue, Chicago, IL 60637
Emil Bach House (1915), 7415 North Sheridan Road, Chicago, IL 60626
Designed in 1922 and released in 1926, Erbar was the first geometric sans-serif typeface ever created, predating both Paul Renner’s Futura and Rudolf Koch’s Kabel. Jakob Erbar (1878 – 1935) was a German professor of graphic design and a type designer. Erbar trained as a typesetter for the Dumont-Schauberg Printing Works. He went on to teach in 1908 at the Städtischen Berufsschule and from 1919 to his death at the Kölner Werkschule.
Erbar’s aim with this seminal typeface was to design a printing type that would be free of all individual characteristics, possess thoroughly legible letter forms, and be a purely typographic creation. His conclusion was that this could only work if the type form was developed from a fundamental element, the circle. Wright used geometry as the means of ordering design, and the new Trust logo is inspired by this idea.
The Trust extends its gratitude to the talented team at Ogilvy Chicago for a refreshed and updated identity that is historically close to the dates of our sites and aligned with Wright’s philosophy.
Oriel staircase, The Rookery.
Photograph: Joanna Arnold.