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Building Conservation Associates

Frederick C. Robie House

Location: Chicago, Illinois
Original Architect: Frank Lloyd Wright
Year Built: 1909

The Frederick C. Robie House, located in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and built in 1908-09, a period of time in Wright’s career that is considered by many to have been the most creative and productive of his life. Since its completion in 1909, the Robie House has stood as emblematic of Wright’s Prairie School of Architecture and is often characterized as a defining moment in the architect’s varied career. The Robie House is currently owned by the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust.

BCA provided materials analysis of select building materials at the Robie House. Materials examined include: brick mortar, exterior stucco, interior plaster and paint finishes, metal coatings and wood coatings. The primary goal of the study was to document the composition of these historic building materials in order to guide recommendations for future restoration work. In addition, because the Robie House has been widely studied and its architectural materials analyzed multiple times over the past thirty years, a secondary goal of BCA’s analysis was to examine and consolidate all known materials investigations related the building into one comprehensive report. By consolidating all of the various materials analyses including BCA’s work into a single resource, the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust will be able to more easily access research related to the building’s materials and identify any inconsistencies or missing areas of information.

Through BCA's work, including instrumental analysis of select materials and drawing on BCA’s experience at other Frank Lloyd Wright buildings, BCA developed recommendations for appropriate restoration finishes and paint colors, as well as pointing mortars. BCA was also involved during the restoration project, advising on and reviewing paint removal techniques, mock-ups of interior painting, and plaster application. The current Robie House interior one sees today was largely informed by BCA's materials research, especially its unique paint finishes.