Unity Temple reemerges from its wrapping

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By Timothy Inklebarger

Staff Reporter

It's been about a year since Frank Lloyd Wright's Unity Temple was covered in plastic for a $23 million restoration of the historic building.

The scaffolding is still up at the temple but the plastic cover has started to come down this week, according to Heather Hutchison, Unity Temple Restoration Foundation executive director.

Plastic on the east side of the building has come down over the last few days, and Hutchison said the rest will come off sometime later this summer.

Hutchison said the 108-year-old structure is being treated with shotcrete, a spray-on concrete used to repair work done to the building in the 1970s.

She noted that one of the contractors working on the building has said, "We're going to take the wrapping off the building and people are going to say, 'What did they do?'"

That's the point, Hutchison said.

"We're not restoring all the shotcrete all the way around the building; we're just doing portions of it," she said.

She said the consistency of the shotcrete varies slightly on different areas of the building's exterior, so replacing it takes a high attention to detail.

"You can have a four-inch-wide panel and look right next to it and the shotcrete color and shade might be different," she said.

In addition to the exterior restoration, the restoration foundation is doing a complete overhaul of the building's interior from wood paneling to art glass to protection of the temple's skylights, Hutchison said.

She noted that the project is coming along on schedule and is still expected to be completed by November or December.

— Timothy Inklebarger

Email: tim@oakpark.com

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