Frederick C. Robie House, University of Chicago (Frank Lloyd Wright, 1909)
Frederick C. Robie House
University of Chicago
5757 South Woodlawn Avenue
Frank Lloyd Wright, 1908–10
Completed in 1910, the house Wright designed for Frederick C. Robie was the last Prairie-style home and the start of his modernist period. Wright conceived this house as a unified whole—the site and structure, interior and exterior, furniture, ornament and architecture. The result is that the Robie House is the most innovative of Wright's domestic designs.
Bands of brick and limestone mark the exterior. The overhanging eaves and cantilevered roofs shelter the interior and appear almost to float above it. The low-slung horizontality of the house is reinforced by the roofline and the lines of the bricks and mortar. Wright's materials blend into a remarkable balance of tone and color. Broad balconies and terraces cause interior and exterior space to flow together.
The light-filled open plan of the living spaces is striking. A single room, comprising a living and dining space, is divided only by a central chimney. Doors and windows of leaded glass line the room, providing ample light. Iridescent, colored and clear glass in patterns of flattened diamond shapes and diagonal floral geometries distinguish the windows. In this design, Wright succeeded masterfully in blurring the boundaries between interior space and the external world beyond.