Architectural Masterworks of Frank Lloyd Wright

Celebrate legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright as you visit his greatest works in Wisconsin and Illinois, from his home and studio to the S.C. Johnson building.
Rating (4.92)
Program No. 22976RJ
7 days
Starts at

At a Glance

Frank Lloyd Wright revolutionized architecture, opening up new realms for designers and creating new challenges for builders and engineers. Of the 532 Frank Lloyd Wright structures in the U.S., over 150 of them were built in Illinois and Wisconsin. Celebrate the work of this legendary architect as you visit some of his greatest works in the Midwest. Through discussions and field trips with Wright experts, learn how his work continues to impact modern architecture, and discover some of that modern architecture on city explorations of Madison, Racine, Milwaukee, Oak Park and Chicago with local experts.
Activity Level
Keep the Pace
Walking up to three miles and standing for up to three hours.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 10 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you'll ...

  • In historic Oak Park, Illinois, discover Frank Lloyd Wright’s home and studio, designed by Wright and considered by many scholars to be the world’s first example of true modern architecture.
  • Experience the work of Frank Lloyd Wright in Racine through an exploration of the S.C. Johnson Wax Administration Building and Research Tower, considered one of the 25 most important buildings of the 20th Century.
  • Learn about the rich history and culture of architecture in Chicago on an architectural study of the city from the Chicago River.

General Notes

For the convenience of participants who wish to fly in and out of Chicago, or drive and park their cars for the entirety of the program, the motor coach will depart the hotel in Wisconsin at 9:00 am and return to the Club Quarters in Chicago in the early afternoon.
Featured Expert
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Marshall Jacobson
Born and raised in Chicago, Marshall Jacobson knows the Windy City! He graduated from South Shore High School and earned a bachelor’s degree in American history from the University of Illinois-Urbana and a master’s degree in social service administration at the University of Chicago. He is a Chicago Greeter and was a volunteer for five years for the Chicago Architecture Foundation as an award-winning docent. Marshall served as the vice president for development at the Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust, and is an active supporter and visitor to the Chicago History Museum, the Lincoln Park Zoo, the Art Institute of Chicago and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. In addition, Marshall actively participates in a variety of liberal arts classes, with favorites in art history and film, at Northwestern University. Besides being a bon vivant and Renaissance man, Marshall is an actor and has performed in several productions around Chicago.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

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Mary Ann Savage
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Marshall Jacobson
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Mark Hertzberg
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Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
Building Taliesin: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Home of Love and Loss
by Ron McCrea
Much has been written about, and made of, Wright’s love for Mamah Borthwick (Cheney) and their work in Europe in 1909-1910. This meticulously-researched book is the best read about their life together and of the building of Taliesin. It supersedes other accounts, including one popular non-fiction account of the fire at Taliesin which has notable errors.
Loving Frank
by Nancy Horan
I have been standing on the side of life, watching it float by. I want to swim in the river. I want to feel the current. So writes Mamah Borthwick Cheney in her diary as she struggles to justify her clandestine love affair with Frank Lloyd Wright. Four years earlier, in 1903, Mamah and her husband, Edwin, had commissioned the renowned architect to design a new home for them. During the construction of the house, a powerful attraction developed between Mamah and Frank, and in time the lovers, each married with children, embarked on a course that would shock Chicago society and forever change their lives. In this ambitious debut novel, fact and fiction blend together brilliantly. While scholars have largely relegated Mamah to a footnote in the life of America’s greatest architect, author Nancy Horan gives full weight to their dramatic love story and illuminates Cheney’s profound influence on Wright. Drawing on years of research, Horan weaves little-known facts into a compelling narrative, vividly portraying the conflicts and struggles of a woman forced to choose between the roles of mother, wife, lover, and intellectual. Horan’s Mamah is a woman seeking to find her own place, her own creative calling in the world. Mamah’s is an unforgettable journey marked by choices that reshape her notions of love and responsibility, leading inexorably ultimately lead to this novel’s stunning conclusion.
Chicago Architecture: 1885 to Today
by The Chicago Architecture Foundation,Edward Keegan, Lynn J. Osmond
Universally recognized as an architectural center, Chicago contains some of the world’s finest buildings by the most renowned architects of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Frank Lloyd Wright, Louis Sullivan, Mies van der Rohe, and many more left their stamp on the city’s skyline and, as a result, influenced the practice of architecture across the globe. This book, published in association with the Chicago Architecture Foundation, features an in-depth analysis of forty-two seminal works of Chicago architecture. This accessible and engaging volume is the latest addition to the successful Universe Architecture Series. Both a guide for those visiting the city and a valuable reference for architecture enthusiasts, Chicago Architecture includes residential icons such as Mies van der Rohe’s 860–880 Lake Shore Drive, skyscraper prototypes such as Sullivan’s Schlesinger and Mayer Store (Carson Pirie Scott & Co.), and engineering masterpieces such as Skidmore, Owings & Merrill’s Sears Tower.
Frank Lloyd Wright: An American Architecture
by Edited by Edgar Kaufmann
A collection of Wright’s writings about architecture.
Chicago: A Brief History
by Vook
"Chicago: A Brief History" presents a comprehensive look at the city’s transformation from a fur trade outpost to America’s Second City. This compact digital compendium helps you track the diverse forces that shaped the city as we know it. You’ll explore the exciting history behind the city’s cultural, economic, and architectural mainstays. You’ll also gain valuable insight into groundbreaking Chicago events and major figures down through history, including: The Birth of a Major Trade City The Great Fire of 1871 Construction of the Sears Tower Chicago’s “Public Enemies” The University of Chicago ...and more.
Frank Lloyd Wright on Architecture, Nature, and the Human Spirit, - A collection of quotations
by Edited by Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer
A slim volume of Wright quotations.
Wright in Racine
by Mark Hertzberg
This book covers Wright’s built and unbuilt work in Racine. The dozen commissions represent almost every aspect of his work after 1900.
Hometown Architect: The Complete Buildings of Frank Lloyd Wright in Oak Park And River Forest, Illinois
by Patrick F. Cannon
The book is a complete guide to the many homes Wright designed in his hometown of Oak Park and in the adjoining suburb of River Forest.
Frank Lloyd Wright’s SC Johnson Research Tower
by Mark Hertzberg
The Research Tower fascinated visitors to the adjoining landmark SC Johnson Administration Building because the Tower was not open for tours until a couple of years ago. Hertzberg was given rare access to the company archives for this richly illustrated history of the tower, which includes recollections from chemists who worked in the building before it closed 35 years ago. Frank Lloyd Wright and the Johnson Wax Buildings, by Jonathan Lipman Lipman extensively researched company archives for the first in-depth history and appraisal of the SC Johnson Administration Building, SC Johnson Research Tower, and Wingspread, concurrent with a national traveling museum exhibition.
Frank Lloyd Wright: An Autobiography
by Frank Lloyd Wright
Wright’s own story, albeit with some embellishment. An important book to gain an understanding of the architect and the context for his work.
Frank Lloyd Wright's Monona Terrace: The Enduring Power of a Civic Vision
by David V. Mollenhoff and Mary Jane Hamilton
The struggle to realize Wright’s Monona Terrace is the story of artistic vision being stymied by local civic and political opposition. Wright’s concept was finally recast as a convention and meeting center 60 years later.
Masterpieces of Chicago Architecture
by John Zukowsky, Martha Thorne,Stanley Tigerman
Chicago is universally recognized as the cradle of modern architecture. It is known worldwide for the development, beginning in the late 1800s, of the renowned "Chicago School" of commercial building. In the early 1900s, Chicago saw the birth of Wright's "Prairie School" of residential design, which gave rise to the modern, open-plan house we know today. Other world-renowned architects were also based in Chicago, such as Louis Sullivan, who designed the Chicago Stock Exchange, and Daniel Burnham, architect of the famous Rookery Building of the 1890s. The 1940s were to see the completion of Mies van der Rohe's revolutionary Illinois Institute of Technology and his astonishing Lake Shore Drive apartment buildings. Skidmore Owings & Merrill's landmark Inland Steel Building was finished in 1954, their John Hancock Center in 1970, and their Sears Tower in 1974. Philip Johnson and John Burgee's 190 South LaSalle Street office tower went up in 1987. The 200 illustrations in this volume all come from The Art Institute of Chicago's repository of 150,000 architectural drawings, vintage photographs, models, and building fragments, which comprise one of the most important such archives. These illustrations reveal interiors and details that give us a greater appreciation of Chicago in particular and architecture in general. With its definitive text, the book is a striking record of Chicago's great buildings and will be an important reference on the subject for years to come.
Years with Frank Lloyd Wright: Apprentice to Genius
by Edgar Tafel
Tafel was one of the original Taliesin Fellowship apprentices (1932-1941) and supervised construction of the SC Johnson Administration Building and of Wingspread, both in Racine, while in his mid-twenties. The book is filled with Tafel’s delightful anecdotes about Wright and Taliesin.
Travel Guides: There are two particularly popular books, The Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright and the Frank Lloyd Wright Field Guide
by William Allin Storrer and Tom Heinz. Storrer
Travel Guides: There are two particularly popular books, The Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright by William Allin Storrer and the Frank Lloyd Wright Field Guide by Tom Heinz. Storrer’s book has more complete information, albeit with some inaccuracies, but is hard to follow because he groups Wright’s work through his unique “S” numbering system (by types of buildings). Heinz’ book is very easy to use on a trip because he groups the buildings geographically. Participants on this trip can thus easily follow a thread from northern Illinois through southeastern Wisconsin, into Madison.
A View from the River: The Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise
by Jennifer Marjorie Bosch
To see what's up in Chicago, come down to the river. Float along the Main Branch for views of Lake Point Tower and Marina City, up the North Branch to the condo-converted Montgomery Ward Catalog House, then down the South Branch to take in the soaring Sears Tower. This book, a companion to the Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise, is your guide to the buildings that make downtown Chicago world famous for architecture and infrastructure. During the past two hundred years, engineers and architects designed twin engineering marvels, the Chicago skyline and the Chicago River. Dredged, straightened, its direction reversed, the river flowed a varied course through the city's history, as Chicagoans built factories, civic structures, waterside homes and parks, and the world's tallest steel-and-glass monuments to big business. The story of Chicago is the story of its river. A View from the River spotlights over fifty buildings, recounting an urban tale that continues to unfold.
At Taliesin: Newspaper Columns by Frank Lloyd Wright and the Taliesin Friendship, 1934 - 1937
by Randolph C. Henning
Wright and his apprentices wrote weekly newspaper columns about life at Taliesin.
Frank Lloyd Wright and Madison: Eight Decades of Artistic and Social Interaction
by Paul E. Sprague, Frank Lloyd Wright, Diane Filipowicz, Mary Jane Hamilton, and Russell Panczenko
We will be spending two nights in Madison. This book, which was the companion to a museum exhibition, is a scholarly look at his work in Madison.
Frank Lloyd Wright - A Life
by Alda Louise Huxtable
This is considered one of the best and most accurate of the many Wright biographies.

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