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 RomanBTBbanner2Exploring creative nonconformity

Break the Box finds inspiration in the life and work of Frank Lloyd Wright and his example of bold exploration of the creative process. Break the Box speakers examine progressive ideas in the arts, culture and society, challenging audiences to engage in lively discussion and debate.

Programs will resume in 2018.  Examples of past programs are listed here.

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David Patterson :: The Music of William Carey Wright

The happiest moments in Frank Lloyd Wright’s Autobiography are his stories of a very musical childhood, revolving around his father, William Carey Wright, a musician and composer. Premiering his successful Kickstarter project, Patterson paints a portrait of Frank Lloyd Wright’s father in words and music, giving us a fresh perspective not only on the architect’s upbringing, but on the father whose musical mind was so essential to Frank’s architecture.

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Wiel Arets :: A Wonderful World

We live in an extremely exciting and complex world, in which the growth of technology has radically changed how we see ourselves in relation to an emerging global metropolis. It’s time, says internationally renowned Dutch architect Wiel Arets, to redefine our map of the world. Widely regarded for his sleek and minimalist geometries, Arets recently joined IIT’s College of Architecture as Dean, and splits his time between Chicago and his active design practice in the Netherlands.

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Roman Mars :: 99% Invisible :: Stories about the Built World

Design is everywhere. Sometimes we notice it; sometimes we don’t. With his tiny radio show about architecture and design, as Mars calls attention to the hidden elements and activities that shape our world — each of which tells a compelling story about who we are. In the perfect acoustical setting of Unity Temple, he will perform an extended version of his popular podcast, 99% Invisible, complete with previously unheard audio.


Summer Off-site Tours :: Waterworks: A Subterranean Tour of Buckingham Fountain

The ultimate hidden space! Join us for a tour of the centerpiece of Chicago’s Front Yard, Grant Park. Learn more about the Buckingham Fountain through a 30-minute tour that will include the underground pump works that lie beneath one of Chicago’s most iconic landmarks. Completed in 1927, the fountain has impressive displays that use as much as 1.5 million gallons of water per minute. The structure is currently undergoing restoration, with two phases out of three completed.


Summer Off-site Tours :: Garden Envy: A Tour of Rick Bayless’s Organic Garden

Owner of some of the most popular restaurants in Chicago, Chef Bayless has created an urban refuge that serves an outdoor kitchen and supplies fresh vegetables for his restaurants. Located on three adjacent city lots in Chicago’s Bucktown neighborhood, Bayless’ organic garden serves as a model for urban food production and demonstrates that gardens can be simultaneously functional and beautiful.

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Summer Off-site Tours :: Preservation on Tap: Two Brother’s Roundhouse

Buildings tell stories. Pull up a barstool. In 1856, the first roundhouse in America was built on the Fox River by the Chicago Burlington and Quincy Railroad to house and repair steam locomotives and railroad cars. In 1995 it was purchased for $10 by football Hall of Famer Walter Payton. Today, it operates as a brewpub, operated by Jim and Jason Ebel of the Two Brothers Brewing Company. Join us to learn about the restoration of this important structure, its varied usage (past and present), and the beer-making process.

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Geoffrey Baer :: The Ten Buildings that Changed America

America’s architecture is one of innovation – from the factory that housed Henry Ford’s first Model T moving assembly line to the original indoor regional shopping mall. Join architecture aficionado and history buff Geoffrey Baer on a journey as he recounts the making of the WTTW special, The Ten Buildings that Changed America and walks us through the selection process.

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Lloyd Natof :: Curious Furniture, Compelling Ideas

Within the very distinctive shapes of Frank Lloyd Wright’s furniture exists a world of remarkable ideas. S. Lloyd Natof, Frank Lloyd Wright’s great-grandson and studio furniture artist, brings unique perspective to Wright’s design principles. By comparing Wright’s furniture to other modern designs, Natof will illustrate the concepts that define (and energize!) Wright’s work.