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(The Unitarian Universalist congregation that owns and worships in Unity Temple was formed in 1871, and has no connection with Unity Church, a religious organization founded in 1889.) In 1905, after the original Unity Church burned down, the Universalist congregation of Oak Park, Illinois turned to architect Frank Lloyd Wright to design them a new structure. Wright was not only living in Oak Park, but also came from a family of Unitarians - which faith then had many beliefs in common with Universalism.
The January 22, 2008 press release from the National Park Service website announcing the nominations states that, "The preparation of a Tentative List is a necessary first step in the process of nominating a site to the World Heritage List." A drawback to the modern design of the Unity Temple is structural problems that have emerged over time.Chicago restoration architect Gunny Harboe is in charge of the restoration with CTLGroup providing the engineering and materials technology expertise.In April 2009, Unity Temple, due to water seepage, was added to the National Trust for Historic Preservation's 11 most endangered historic places The building has been a United States National Historic Landmark since 1971 and was chosen in a 1991 poll in the magazine, Architectural Record as one of the 100 most significant buildings in the United States of the previous 100 years (Unity Temple was #6). National Park Service submitted Unity Temple, along with nine other Frank Lloyd Wright properties, to a tentative list for World Heritage Status.A restoration plan was developed from 2000 to 2006, and beginning in April 2015, a million interior and exterior restoration began.The restoration focused on structural improvements such as replacing the majority of the building's 16 separate flat roofs.To accommodate the needs of the congregation, Wright divided the community space from the temple space through a low, middle loggia that could be approached from either side.
This was an efficient use of space and kept down on noise between the two main gathering areas: those coming for religious services would be separated via the loggia from those coming for community events.
This idea became of central importance to the modern architects who followed Wright, such as Mies Van Der Rohe, and even the post-modernists, such as Frank Gehry.
Unity Temple is located at 875 Lake Street, Oak Park Illinois.
But, unlike the Larkin Building, the Temple's plan produced a perfect square, as opposed to the double-square rectangle of the Larkin.
To reduce noise from the street, Wright eliminated street level windows in the temple.
Instead, natural light comes from stained glass windows in the roof and clerestories along the upper walls.