WBEZ | Unity Temple http://www.wbez.org/tags/unity-temple Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Congregation mulls yielding ownership of Frank Lloyd Wright-designed church http://www.wbez.org/blogs/lee-bey/2013-05/congregation-mulls-yielding-ownership-frank-lloyd-wright-designed-church <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/571160cr.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 479px;" title="" /></p><p><em>Updated at 11:06am</em></p><p>Ownership of Oak Park&#39;s Unity Temple could be transferred from its long-time congregation to an organization that would be responsible for maintaining the church, according to a $10 million deal aimed at restoring the internationally-recognized Frank Lloyd Wright structure.</p><p>According to an email sent to the congregation Tuesday evening by the Unitarian Universalist congregation&#39;s board of Trustees, Chicago&#39;s Alphawood Foundation would donate $10 million toward the restoration of the 105-year-old building, 875 Lake St. In addition, Alphawood would work to help restructure the 40-year-old Unity Temple Restoration Foundation or &quot;create a new preservation organization to manage fundraising, restoration, and preservation of Unity Temple as well as public programming and tours,&quot; according to the email, a copy of which was obtained by this &nbsp;blog late Tuesday.</p><p>But the plan is conditional. In order for the ownership transfer to be enacted, the church&#39;s current restoration campaign must raise 80% of the total funding needs, plus an endowment to maintain the building. The Alphawood funds would count toward the total. In the email, church leaders said the full restoration costs were still being analyzed but added the amount &quot;is likely to be substantially more than the combined total of the proposed Alphawood gift and any contribution the Congregation makes.&quot;</p><p>The congregation would continue using the building under the plan but the deal &quot;may help free us from the demands and expense of managing and caring for our historic building thus allowing us to focus on the Congregation&#39;s mission and long-term space needs,&quot; the email said. In a statement issued Wednesday morning, Alphawood Executive Director Jim McDonough said his organization is &quot;delighted that our gift will be an important first step toward the restoration and preservation of this international landmark.&quot;</p><p>&quot;For over 100 years we have made this wonderful building our spiritual home, gathering for worship, major life events, and community activities.&quot; Ian Morrison, president of the congregation&#39;s board of trustees, said in the joint statement with Alphawood. &quot;Wright designed the building for us and it embodies many of our values.We are proud to continue using it for its intended purposes.&rdquo;</p><p>The founder and chairman of Alphawood Foundation is Chicago businessman Fred Eychaner, CEO of <a href="http://newswebchicago.com/">Newsweb Corporation</a>&nbsp;and owner of AM radio station WCPT. Eychaner is also an architecture aficionado who lives in a sleek North Side home designed by Japanese architect Tadao Ando.</p><p>Built in 1908, the blocky reinforced concrete church is National Historic Landmark and is one of Wright&#39;s best-known buildings.The architect himself called it &quot;my contribution to modern architecture.&quot; But Unity Temple&#39;s 16 separate flat roofs and a gutterless drainage system designed by Wright has made the building historically susceptible to water damage. The National Trust for Historic Preservation put the church on its 11 Most Endangered Historic Places list in 2008. The building is one of 25 structures Wright designed in Oak Park.</p><p>The congregation was invited to discuss the plan at a church meeting Sunday.</p></p> Wed, 15 May 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/lee-bey/2013-05/congregation-mulls-yielding-ownership-frank-lloyd-wright-designed-church Roman Mars: Stories About the Built World http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/roman-mars-stories-about-built-world-107129 <p><p>He&#39;s been called &quot;the Ira Glass of design.&quot; His radio show, <em>99% Invisible</em> &ndash; &quot;a tiny show about architecture and design&quot; &ndash; focuses on the invisible activity that shapes our world. In August 2012, <em>99% Invisible</em> became the highest-funded journalism project in Kickstarter history, raising over $170,000 from 5,661 backers. In 2012, with over 4 million downloads online, <em>99% Invisible</em> peaked at #2 in iTunes ranking for all podcasts in the US.</p><div>As host and producer of <em>99% Invisible</em>, <strong>Roman Mars</strong> has explored everything from the Purple Hotel &ndash; Lincolnwood, IL&#39;s most famous building &ndash; to poetically-named structures in Santiago, Chile.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Here Mars brings his eye for design, his talent for storytelling, and his rich layers of music and sound effects to Unity Temple, where he performs an extended version of <em>99% Invisible</em>.</div><p>Roman Mars presentation, &quot;Stories about the Built World,&quot; is a part of Unity Temple Restoration Foundation&#39;s Break the Box program series. Break the Box is made possible by generous grants from the MacArthur Fund for Arts and Culture at The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, and the Illinois Arts Council, an Agency of the State of Illinois.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/UTRF-webstory.jpg" style="float: left;" title="" /></div><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><br />Recorded live Thursday, May 10, 2013 at Frank Lloyd Wright&#39;s Unity Temple.</p></p> Thu, 09 May 2013 12:57:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/roman-mars-stories-about-built-world-107129 Wiel Arets: A Wonderful World with Robert McCarter http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/wiel-arets-wonderful-world-robert-mccarter-106586 <p><p>We live in an extremely exciting and complex world, in which the growth of technology has radically changed how we see ourselves in relation to an emerging global metropolis.</p><p>It&#39;s time, says internationally renowned Dutch architect <strong>Wiel Arets</strong>, to redefine our map of the world. Widely regarded for his sleek and minimalist geometries, Arets recently joined IIT&#39;s College of Architecture as Dean, and splits his time between Chicago and his active design practice in the Netherlands.</p><p>Author, editor, professor, and practicing architect <strong>Robert McCarter</strong> joins Arets in a discussion of their new book, <em>Autobiographical References</em>, published by Birkhäuser in 2012.</p><p>Wiel Arets&#39;s &quot;A Wonderful World&quot; is a part of Unity Temple Restoration Foundation&#39;s Break the Box program series. Break the Box is made possible by generous grants from the MacArthur Fund for Arts and Culture at The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, and the Illinois Arts Council, an Agency of the State of Illinois.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/UTRF-webstory.jpg" style="float: left;" title="" /></div><p><br />&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Recorded live Monday, March 11, 2013 at&nbsp;Frank Lloyd Wright&#39;s Unity Temple.</p></p> Wed, 10 Apr 2013 13:05:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/wiel-arets-wonderful-world-robert-mccarter-106586 While in Chicago, Springsteen drummer honors Frank Lloyd Wright http://www.wbez.org/blogs/lee-bey/2012-09/while-chicago-springsteen-drummer-honors-frank-lloyd-wright-102288 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/P9068043-2.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 615px; " title="" /></div></div><p>A day before sitting behind the drumkit for two of Bruce Springsteen&#39;s sold-out concerts at Wrigley Field last weekend, E Street Band drummer Max Weinberg entertained a small audience at Oak Park&#39;s Unity Temple.</p><p>&quot;Besides being my generation&#39;s biggest Beatles fan, I happen to be a true Frank Lloyd Wright nerd &mdash; I mean &#39;aficionado,&#39;&quot; Weinberg told a group of about 150 people assembled in the auditorium of the Wright-designed church at 875 Lake St. last Thursday.</p><p>Weinberg&#39;s lecture was part of the &quot;Break the Box&quot; series of distinguished speakers, sponsored by the Unity Temple Restoration Foundation.</p><p>The New Jersey native said he has been a devotee of the architect since childhood, when a relative allowed him to visit the Wright-designed Guggenheim Museum in New York while the modernist masterpiece was still under construction. As a teenager, he&#39;d search out Prairie School architecture with his high school buddy and future film producer (and fellow Wright devotee), Joel Silver.</p><p>Weinberg said traveling with the E Street Band allowed him to visit Wright homes in buildings across the country. When the band came to Chicago in 1977 to play the Auditorium Theater, Weinberg said he arrived equipped with a map he annotated with the location of Wright buildings.</p><p>&quot;Back in the 1970s when the E Street Band was starting out, my recreation was to seek out &mdash; some might say &#39;stalk&#39; &mdash; owners with homes designed by Mr. Wright,&quot; he said. &quot;I would knock on the door and introduce myself: &#39;My name is Max Weinberg and I&#39;m with the E Street Band.&#39; And I could tell by these folks, they&#39;d never heard of the E Street Band.&quot;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/P9067969.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 515px;" title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">Weinberg said he is active in the Wright preservation movement and talked about the need to restore Wright&#39;s famed Unity Temple, a blocky, 103-year-old structure that is among the first public buildings in the world made of exposed concrete. Though a functioning and nicely-maintained Unitarian church since it opened in 1909, the building has been damaged by water seepage, wear and time. In 2009, the National Trust for Historic Preservation named Unity Temple to its 11 Most Endangered Historic Places list.</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/P9068028-2.jpg" title="" /></div></div><p>During his talk, Weinberg also shared some good non-architecture stories, such as playing on Meat Loaf&#39;s landmark 1977 album <em>Bat Out of Hell </em>along with E Street keyboard man, &quot;Professor&quot; Roy Bittan. Weinberg said he played on three of the album&#39;s songs, including <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9hLcRU5wE4">the title track</a> and &quot;<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GMQzfncqOQc">Paradise by the Dashboard Light</a>&quot;&nbsp;&mdash; then was fired from the project by producer (and friend) Todd Rundgren.</p><p>&quot;He didn&#39;t like my drumming,&quot; Weinberg said.</p></p> Mon, 10 Sep 2012 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/lee-bey/2012-09/while-chicago-springsteen-drummer-honors-frank-lloyd-wright-102288 Can cultural resources help spur a different future for the Chicago River? http://www.wbez.org/blog/alison-cuddy/2012-03-21/can-cultural-resources-help-spur-different-future-chicago-river-97515 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2012-March/2012-03-21/Lost Panoramas Big Boats.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-March/2012-03-21/Lost Panoramas Big Boats.jpg" style="width: 500px; height: 324px;" title="Big Boats (Rich Cahan/Lost Panoramas)"></p><p>A couple of days ago, I was inspired by a string of sultry summery days to do one of my favorite things: take a water taxi along the Chicago River.</p><p>My trip was a short jaunt to the DuSable Bridge – at this stage they’re only running full routes on weekends. And it's no surprise why – at 2 p.m. on a weekday, I was the only passenger, along with the captain and one deck hand, who extolled the many virtues of his summer job. Otherwise, all was quiet along the water, which still carried a slight hint of its annual turn to green.</p><p>Back on dry land we’ve seen a big flurry of activity around our waterways. Just shy of a year ago, <a href="http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/0/d25839bbae91c1388525788e0036da49?OpenDocument">the Federal Environmental Protection Agency made it official</a>: We need to make the Chicago River clean enough to recreate on and <em>in</em>, activities still considered hazardous to our health.</p><p>This month the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, which after years of costly balking <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-06-07/news/ct-met-chicago-river-vote-20110607_1_cleaner-river-chicago-river-water-district-backs">finally agreed to the new regime</a> last June, <a href="http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=203321">laid out a plan to disinfect wastewater going into the river</a>, which they claim will make it safe for swimming by 2016.</p><p>That’s quite the sea change for the river – from Chicago’s backyard outhouse to its backyard pool in just a few short years – ah, the miracles of chlorine! And while change is driven by a concern for the overall habitat of the river, it also reflects our continuing people-centric view of how to make use of this (once) natural resource.</p><p>Our evolving relationship with the river isn’t just a matter of legislative and policy shifts. There’s been a spate of cultural interest as well. In <a href="http://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/distributed/M/bo13291307.html"><em>MidStream: The Chicago River, 1999-2010</em></a>, native Chicagoan and photographer Richard Wasserman explores the entire length of the Chicago River and documents our changing perception of the water, from place for poop to site of pleasure.</p><p>Most of his photographs are devoid of actual humans, but he finds our leavings all over the place, from the crumbling remnants of once active factories, to graffiti on bridge braces, to that remarkable man-made endeavor known as the <a href="http://www.chicagobarproject.com/Memoriam/SlowDown/SlowDown.htm"><em>Slow Down Life’s Too Short </em>bar</a> (an all-too-ironic title now that it’s closed). By getting up close and personal with the Chicago River, Wasserman has managed to open up an imaginative space, one that captures both the industrial age of the river and its emerging recreational future.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-March/2012-03-21/reverse-effect-jeanne-gang-537x342.jpg" style="width: 300px; height: 191px; float: left; margin: 10px;" title="Bubbly Creek, Reverse Effect (Studio Gang)">That future is also the subject of Jeanne Gang’s utopian <a href="http://www.studiogang.net/news/updates/2011/10/reverseeffect"><em>Reverse Effect: Renewing Chicago's Waterways</em></a>, a project inspired by the Natural Resources Defense Council’s (NRDC) move to <em>re-reverse</em> the river by installing a dam (proper name: hydrological barrier) at the notorious Bubbly Creek (speaking of cultural resources check out local Andrew Malo’s ode to the notorious stew, the<a href="http://andrewmalo.bandcamp.com/"> 2012 EP </a><em><a href="http://andrewmalo.bandcamp.com/">Songs from Bubbly Creek</a>).</em></p><p>The dam would literally de-couple the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins. But Gang takes the NRDC’s vision, combines it with the river’s “continually reinvented” history and runs wild. She imagines a river freed from its natural and artificial constraints, spilling into the cityscape via a series of freshwater inland lagoons. In these public watery spaces, we could loll about watching movies or listening to music while wetland habitats clean up our … mess.</p><p>Gang also led a group of Harvard students to design creative community-based uses of the barrier. One I particularly like imagines an art space that would combine the character of two Chicago neighborhoods: Pilsen (art, muralists) and Bridgeport (politics, speechifying). The low-lying structure's (think futuristic Frank Lloyd Wright) spine is a giant mural wall, that both bisects the space and leads to an outdoor performance theater. With one elegant journey, two communities historically separated by a variety of barriers, from cultural to geographic, might come together.</p><p>How Gang’s truly 21<sup>st</sup> century river will come to pass remains to be seen. But she's not alone in rethinking our water ecosystem. I've long been a fan of <a href="http://www.urbanlab.com/h2o/">Growing Water</a>, a project by the local architect/urban design firm Urban Lab. And hey, if Chicago can take a dirty, seemingly intractable train yard and turn it into a <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Millennium_Park">gorgeous park full of music, dance and public art</a>, then anything is&nbsp; possible, right?</p><p>Ok, the money for projects like these doesn't grow on trees. But a great way to figure out how to get to the future is by exploring how we arrived at our own current moment. Thanks to Richard Cahan and Michael Williams, we can do a little river time traveling. <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Lost-Panoramas-Chicago-Changed-Beyond/dp/0978545001"><em>The Lost Panoramas: When Chicago Changed its River and the Land Beyond </em></a>is a collection of long-lost photographs documenting the original reversal of the river – the digging of a 28-mile canal between the Chicago and DesPlaines Rivers, and the impact of this feat (folly?) of engineering.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-March/2012-03-21/Lost Panoramas State Street.jpg" style="width: 300px; height: 192px; margin: 10px; float: left;" title="State Street (Rich Cahan/Lost Panoramas)">The glass negatives span the years 1894-1928 and were taken for the Sanitary District of Chicago. Like Wasserman’s photos, the images capture the energy of man (the emerging industrial behemoth Chicago) and the energy of nature (the gorgeous flow of a river with its own agenda and logic). And to learn more about Isham Randolph, the man whose energy was instrumental in reversing the flow of the river, check out Chris McAvoy's <a href="http://weblog.lonelylion.com/2011/07/14/isham-has-a-wikipedia-entry/">wonderful work on the subject.</a></p><p>Cahan (and maybe Williams) will talk about this history Thursday night, at the <a href="http://www.unitytemple.org/">Unity Temple</a> in Oak Park. Admission is 10 bucks, and their event is part of the Break the Box series presented by the Unity Temple Restoration Foundation. The Temple could use your support as well – <a href="http://triblocal.com/oak-park-river-forest/2011/10/11/stolen-unity-letters-expected-to-be-replaced-by-spring/">they’re still working to restore the bronze letters stolen from the façade a few years ago.</a></p><p><em>The Lost Panoramas, </em><em>March 22, 7:30 p.m., </em><em>Unity Temple, 875 Lake Street, Oak Park. </em></p></p> Wed, 21 Mar 2012 20:31:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/alison-cuddy/2012-03-21/can-cultural-resources-help-spur-different-future-chicago-river-97515