Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, Chicago’s Robie House “is renowned as the greatest example of the Prairie School style, the first architectural style considered uniquely American”. Inspired by the Great Plains, the Prairie style is “usually marked by horizontal lines, flat or hipped roofs with broad overhanging eaves, windows grouped in horizontal bands, integration with the landscape, solid construction, craftsmanship, and discipline in the use of ornament. Horizontal lines were thought to evoke and relate to the native prairie landscape.” Seen above, the Robie House has all this.
The Robie House is on a street corner. The long side of the house is on the right.
But the front door is hidden on the short end of the house. People waiting to enter the house on a tour are down the walkway on the left, partially hidden by the waving stalks. Our tour guide told us that the front door, which is vertical, was hidden like this in order to maintain the horizontal lines of the Prairie style. Steel beams support the protruding roof with no external columns.
The living room is one floor up, nestled under the long roof. Frank Lloyd Wright designed the interior of the house too.
The right-hand wall facing the street has repeated french doors with stained glass. To preserve the horizontal lines of the house, there are no curtains. The wall of glass provides little insulation against Chicago’s hot summers and cold winters, so heating was expensive.
The balcony and brick wall provide some privacy for this second-story living room, and the stained glass keeps attention inside.
Wright designed the wall sconces, which feature a globe within a square. The one in the foreground has a hemisphere globe within a square. Most have a full globe inside a square.
Cascading plants soften the horizontal lines of the Robie House.
We enjoyed the Robie House with its strict application of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie style; however, we’d feel more comfortable living our home than in the Robie House.