Category Archives: architecture

Windy city: cafe zinc, studio gang show at art institute

Blustery day in Chicago, with the winds especially fierce along Michigan avenue so after a pleasant lunch at cafe zinc ( cream of mushroom soup, egg salad sandwich) I got a bus pass and some ear muffs at Walgreens and hopped onto the 151 bus to the art institute where I caught what I believe is one of the last days of an exhibit about studio gang, the architecture firm of Jeanne Gang, which designed the fabulous Aqua building in downtown Chicago and lots of other buildings as I learned from the exhibit. Well worth a visit. I also popped to see the small collection of folk art at the institute. I didn’t have enough time or energy to go to the Picasso in Chicago show that just opened.

20130221-232530.jpg this is a cool building in Iowa, near grinnell.


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Filed under architecture, chicago, Dining

Good deal on tix to tour FLWright’s home and Studio in Oak Park or Chicago’s Robie house

I don’t want to know HOW Amazon knows that I’m going to Chicago soon – and probably to Oak Park as well. It’s all a little too Big Brotherish for me. But I guess it’s nice to be offered a good deal – as Amazon has done – on tickets to tour Frank Lloyd Wright’s home and studio in Oak Park (although I’ve done at least two times and probably won’t do again – at least during my next trip to Chicago in February.) But thought I’d pass it along in case anyone else is interested. The offer is also good for the Robie House on the South Side, which I also toured a few years ago.

Two Tickets for a Guided Interior House Tour

Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust
Sold by LivingSocial
The Details

Get a glimpse inside one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s most famous works with this offer from the Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust:

  • $15 ($30 value) for two adult tickets for a guided interior tour beginning February 2
  • Explore Wright’s Home and Studio in Oak Park or Robie House in Hyde Park
  • Tours last about 45 to 60 minutes
  • Both locations are National Historic Landmarks
What You Need to Know
  • Limit 2 per customer, up to 2 additional as gifts
  • Limit 1 per couple per visit
  • Each voucher valid for 2 people at choice of Chicago or Oak Park location
  • Advance reservations highly recommended
  • Without advance reservations, guests will be placed on the next available tour upon arrival; space on each tour is limited and is filled on a first-come, first served basis
  • Availability is greater on weekdays; morning arrival is recommended
  • Please note that the museums have limited access for those with mobility restrictions
  • Entire value must be used in a single visit
  • Valid for all published guided interior tour dates beginning February 2, 2013 through November 17, 2013
  • Available for use beginning February 2, 2013

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Filed under architecture, chicago, Illinois

Attention teachers: cool learning opportunity at Mason City’s Frank Lloyd Wright-designed hotel!

Mason City Iowa’s  Park Inn Hotel  – the last remaining hotel designed by Frank Lloyd Wright – is offering a good excuse for teachers to visit the recently restored hotel next year. Wish I could go! More details below…

Front of the Park Inn Hotel (right) and side of the City National Bank Building (left)


Wright on the Park Inc., in Mason City, Iowa, will be hosting a national Endowment for the Humanities Landmarks of America Workshop in the summer of 2013. The topic: Frank Lloyd Wright and the Prairie School in the Midwest.  This is an amazing opportunity to let teachers see how architecture is significant to a study of American history, culture and art.

“Frank Lloyd Wright and the Prairie School in the Midwest” is the subject of a National Endowment for the Humanities Landmarks of American History Workshop for Teachers in the summer of 2013. To be held in Mason City, Iowa, at The Historic Park Inn Hotel – the last standing hotel in the world designed by Frank Lloyd Wright – the workshop will feature a faculty of leading experts on Wright; Prairie School architecture, landscaping and interior design; tours of significant Prairie School sites; and collaboration time with other educators to develop curriculum which uses architecture to teach history, culture and art.

The workshop is hosted by Wright on the Park, the non-profit organization that restored The Historic Park Inn Hotel in 2011 and now focuses its efforts on educational programming.

Teachers who attend will each receive a $1,200 stipend to help offset the cost of attending the workshop. The workshop is offered at two different times: July 14-19 and August 4-9, 2013. Teachers, librarians and curriculum coordinators who wish to apply must submit an application by March 4, 2012. Attendees will be selected from the applicant pool and notified by April 1, 2013.

Those who would like more information about the workshop should e-mail Pat Schultz, Workshop Director, at A full description of the workshop is available at

Pat Schultz, Executive Director

Wright on the Park, Inc.


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Filed under architecture, Iowa

One of top 15 architecture cities….Mason City, Iowa!

Stoney Creek Inn

Front of the Park Inn Hotel (right) and side of the City

People from beyond Iowa tend to find it remarkable that Mason City Iowa has such a treasure trove of Prairie Style homes – by architects including Frank Lloyd Wright. But Conde Nast travel mag is in the know: It recently listed Mason City among the top 15 cities in the world of noteworthy architectural history, according to Wright on the Park, a Mason City nonprofit instrumental in restoring and reopening The Park Inn Hotel, the last remaining hotel designed by Wright.  The hotel plus the Wright-designed Stockman House (both of which offer public tours) and the Rock Crest-Rock Glen residential area, where you can take a self-guided tour of the area’s historic homes including many Prairie Style homes, no doubt won Mason City the same destination nod as cities including Barcelona (presumably for Gaudi!) and Tel Aviv. Word has it the restaurant has opened at the hotel (it wasn’t opened yet when I visited about a year ago.)

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Amazing views and vertigo at Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis

We finally visited the new (okay five-year-old) Guthrie Theater last weekend during a visit to the Twin Cities. What an astonishing place. Designed by Frenchman Jean Nouvel’s (2008 winner of the Pritzker Prize)  its odd-looking exterior is a  rounded cobalt highrise (echoing the nearby historic flour mills downtown) with a protruding platform that sticks out towards the Mississippi River like a bridge lopped off in mid stride.  As suggested, we took the very narrow steep elevator that reminded me of an elevator in the London Tube system to the fifth floor and walked out on the platform which we had all to ourselves on a quiet Saturday morning in late October.  Astonishing views of the River,  St. Anthony Falls and the Stone Arch Bridge, bright sunshine bouncing off the blue glass, and I felt like an ant whose antenna had been ripped off. Dizzy. Disoriented. Dazzled.

Inside, the strange interior – soaring spaces with cut out windows offer very precise views of the river and city and a lovely green landscaped park dotted with fiery red-leafed trees – also had me feeling woozy. We rode the elevator up to the ninth floor for another dazzling view, this time through huge panes of yellow-green tinted windows. Interesting how the glass totally changed the view we’d seen several floors below. We also walked around the curving space lining one of the theaters and through the sleek darkened bars on the fifth floor.

Building tours are available the first Saturday of the month. Next time, we’ll go to a performance there at one of the complex’s three stages (the “thrust stage” and Shakespeare seems good idea.)

for photos and more info: see

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Filed under architecture, Minneapolis, Uncategorized

Pilgrimage to new FLWright hotspot in Mason City

Just back from a tour of the Historic Park Inn Hotel in Mason City, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Fantastic$18 million renovation of the 101 year old hotel and bank buildings (now a lovely hotel with 27 rooms.) And the FLWright aficionados have discovered the place – both tours offered today were full of people, some almost as knowledgeable as the docents giving the tours. Next time, I’ll have to book a room and stay for the night. Also found a good place to eat – new spot about two blocks west of the hotel call Chop with very affordable salads, sandwiches, egg dishes served in stylish room with FLWright overtones (same ochre colored, scallop patterned plaster walls etc.)/ Lovely day.

Did I mention this is the only hotel designed by FLW that remains? (I think there’s a hotel in Oklahoma that’s in a FLWright building but it wasn’t originally designed as a hotel. Must doublecheck that.)

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Filed under architecture, Iowa

More details on opening of FLWright-designed hotel in Mason City

I finally got through to the one person (Whitney) handling reservations for the Historic Park Inn Hotel – the last remaining hotel redesigned by Frank Lloyd Wright which is undergoing a massive renovation.  She told me the hotel is now scheduled to open for overnight customers  in mid-August.  It all still sounds a bit iffy but she said they are now taking reservations for August 15 onward. The rates weekdays range from $105 to $275; weekends from $115 to $275. There are 27 rooms.

For more details on reservations reservation call 1-800-659-2220 (press 3 after the first spiel; then press 4 after the next spiel.)

Information can also be found at :; to

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Filed under architecture, Iowa