Restoration Master Plan

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The Restoration Master Plan for Unity Temple was prepared by renowned restoration architect T. Gunny Harboe, FAIA, who, over a period of six years, worked with Unity Temple Restoration Foundation to develop innovative solutions to the design and technical challenges of restoring and conserving Frank Lloyd Wright’s icon of modern architecture. The 190-page report includes extensive conditions assessments of the building exterior and interior, as well as a recommended scope of work.

For the past 15 years, a team of restoration architects, structural engineers, mechanical, electrical and plumbing engineers, materials conservators, and climate and moisture consultants have conducted studies on the building, which contributed to the preparation of the preservation Master Plan completed in 2006. More recently, a construction manager and Harboe Architects, aided by other experts who conducted extensive material analysis of the concrete, plaster, and historic finishes, prepared a scope of work and identified associated costs, finalized in 2014. The cost of the restoration is estimated at $25 million.

The plan encompasses three phases of restoration:

Phase I: Strengthening the Structure

Phase II: Achieving Climate Control / Upgrading MEP Systems

Phase III: Restoring the Interior


Phase I – Strengthening the Structure

Phase I, which will be conducted between April and November 2015, will restore the concrete walls, chimney, and roof slabs of Unity Temple, Unity House, and the Entrance Hall, as well as the art glass laylights and skylights in Unity House. The elevated terraces, east retaining wall, and ornamental planters will also be restored during Phase I.

Phase II – Achieving Climate Control / Upgrading MEP Systems

During Phase II, from June through August 2015, a new geothermal system will be installed to stabilize, year round, the temperature and humidity in Unity Temple. For the first time in its history, Unity Temple will be air-conditioned during warm summer months.

In addition to installing a new energy efficient geothermal system, described in detail in the Geothermal section, Phase II plans encompass updates to the building’s mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and life safety systems. MEP system upgrades will be performed between July and November 2015.

Phase III – Restoring the Interior

Phase III of the restoration, to be conducted from May 2015 through July 2016, will restore and conserve all interior art glass, plasterwork, paint finishes, concrete and Magnesite floors, art glass lighting fixtures and oak trim.

Interior surfaces will be restored to their original texture, color, and translucence, as described in detail in the Paint and Plaster page.