Oak Park residents and visitors might have recently noticed that Unity Temple, one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpieces and the crown jewel of Oak Park architecture, almost completely wrapped in plastic over the last few weeks.
That’s because the church, built in 1905 of reinforced concrete, is undergoing a multi-million renovation that will close keep its doors closed to tourists and the church’s congregation until fall of 2016.
Bob Score, project architect with Harboe Architects, said the plastic scaffold wrap was installed “to contain all the dust and debris from the work we’re doing.”
The $25-million renovation project will, among other things, replace loose and cracked “shotcrete” — the concrete version of the synthetic stucco, Dryvit — that was sprayed to the exterior of the building in the 1970s. That work, along with replacement of the roofing and skylights is expected to be completed by this winter, Score said.
Installation of a new HVAC system, a geothermal heating and cooling system, interior light fixtures, cracked and broken art glass and other finishes will be completed by fall of next year.
“We’ll be touching just about every surface [of the building] between now and then,” he said.
Score said Harboe has spent the last year and a half doing preliminary investigations into the building to ensure that there are “no surprises along the way.”