A New Documentary About Frank Lloyd Wright’s Famed Unity Temple is Coming

published Oct 11, 2020
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Credit: Courtesy of Unity Temple Film

The restoration of Unity Temple, architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s first major public building, will be front and center in a new documentary. “Unity Temple: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Modern Masterpiece,” a film by Lauren Levine, will bring to life the historic collaboration between architects, craftspeople, historians, and members of the congregation to restore the temple, which is considered one of Wright’s most innovative buildings. The documentary, available to stream starting on Friday, Oct. 30 through Sunday, Nov. 15, will also include reflective quotes of the architect’s philosophies narrated by Brad Pitt. 

Available to rent for a $20 fee, ticket prices will help support five of Wright’s sites: Unity Temple, Fallingwater, Taliesin, Taliesin West, and Hollyhock House. After the screening, a special online Zoom panel discussion will take place on Sunday, Nov. 15 at 6 p.m. EST led by Levine, and will feature lead architect Gunny Harboe, historian Joe Siry, and artisans Julie Sloan and Dorothy Krotzer. To pre-order and register for the event, go to www.unitytemplefilm.com.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site located in Oak Park, Illinois, Unity Temple was constructed between 1906 and 1908. Wright, then a congregation member, was commissioned to design a new church after the original structure was struck by lightning and destroyed in an ensuing fire. The building soon gained international attention and was hailed as a masterpiece of modern design. For over 100 years, it continued to serve as home of the congregation. A group of volunteers established the Unity Temple Restoration Foundation (UTRF) in 1973 to restore and preserve the building.

“I hoped to convey a window into Wright’s mind, beyond the often repeated autobiographical mainstream material, so that we could better understand Wright’s guiding philosophy and intent that his buildings reflect the people who use them,” Levine said of the documentary. “It was important to capture both the tremendous task and details of the restoration itself as well as the spirit, diversity and commitment of the congregation who continue to bring the building to life.”