The Restoration Master Plan for Unity Temple was prepared by renowned restoration architect T. Gunny Harboe, FAIA, over a period of six years. Harboe Architects 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 over 15 years, a team of restoration architects, structural engineers, mechanical, electrical and plumbing engineers, materials conservators, and climate and moisture consultants conducted studies on the building, which contributed to the preparation of the preservation Master Plan completed in 2006. Beginning in 2013, 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 was $25 million.
The plan encompassed:
I: Strengthening the Structure
II: Achieving Climate Control / Upgrading MEP Systems
III: Restoring the Interior
Strengthening the Structure
Between April and November 2015, and restored 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 were also restored during Phase I.
Achieving Climate Control / Upgrading MEP Systems
From June through August 2015, a new geothermal system was installed to stabilize, year round, the temperature and humidity in Unity Temple. For the first time in its history, Unity Temple has air-conditioning during warm summer months.
In addition to installing a new energy efficient geothermal system, described in detail in the Geothermal section the plans included updates to the building’s mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and life safety systems. MEP system upgrades were performed between July and November 2015.
Restoring the Interior
From May 2015 through May 2017, all interior art glass, plasterwork, paint finishes, concrete and Magnesite floors, art glass lighting fixtures and oak trim were restored.
Interior surfaces were restored to their original texture, color, and translucence, as described in detail in the Paint and Plaster page.