Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Chicago footnote 3: Robie House

The Robie House is owned by the University of Chicago and is surrounded by university development. When it was built, it was at the edge of a prairie. The long lines of the house, more massive than I imagined, must have stood impressively against that vista.

Robie House

Now, where the prairie was is the Univeristy of Chicago's new Graduate School of Business, designed by Rafael Vinoly.

Robie House

The horizontal lines do a really nice job of relating to the icon across the street.

The Robie House is in the middle of an $8 million restoration (jump-started by Hillary Rodham Clinton's securing of a Pritzker Foundation award of $1 million). The exterior has been done; the interior has a ways to go. But they'll let you tour the work in progress, partly to encourage you to participate. The house was all that I expected, even down to the low ceilings that are supposed to make you feel suitably coccooned. But there was something you don't get in the picture books, as you mark faded carpets, crumbling foundation walls: "Time, which antiquates antiquities, and hath an art to make dust of all things, hath yet spared these minor monuments," wrote Sir Thomas Browne of some ancient urns that chance had preserved. Not even Frank Lloyd Wright's monumental structures are completely immune from the works of time and chance.

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