May 17 - 29, 2020
13 days
$8,970per person, twin share (land content only). $1,640 supplement for sole use of a hotel room.

Tour Leader

Dr Matthew Laing
May 17 - 29, 2020

Tour Leader

Dr Matthew Laing
  • Tour Info
  • Itinerary
  • Tour Leader
  • Hotels
  • Inclusions


Follow the Frank Lloyd Wright trail and discover the life and architecture of the greatest American architect. This 13-day tour takes in over 15 of Wright’s most acclaimed buildings. It traces his development from his beginnings in Chicago and his Prairie style homes, to his tragic yet inspirational home in Spring Green, Wisconsin, the Darwin Martin complex in Buffalo, and Fallingwater, the most perfect embodiment of his architectural principles. The tour features private guided visits to homes and major galleries, a day trip to Niagara Falls, and places Wright in the context of modern America’s fascinating history and culture.


See over 15 masterworks spanning seven decades of incredible creativity:

  • Wright’s Home and Studio (1889), in Oak Park where his career began
  • Darwin Martin Complex (1903), which pioneered open-plan living
  • Unity Temple (1905), a beautiful experiment in modern materials
  • Robie House (1909), a landmark of the Prairie-Style
  • Taliesin (1911-1925), Wright’s Wisconsin estate and architectural school, brimming with innovations and experiments
  • SC Johnson Wax Headquarters (1936), whose great work room has been described as the ‘most beautiful room in America’
  • Jacobs House I (1937), the first of his Usonian homes and forerunner of the ranch house
  • Fallingwater (1939), Wright’s unrivaled masterpiece for which we’ll have a private, before-hours visit
  • Kentuck Knob (1953), from the twilight of his career

Itinerary Overview

Days 1–4: In Chicago, visit Millennium Park, the Art Institute of Chicago, Wright’s Home and Studio, Robie House and Farnsworth House.

Day 5: Coach to Milwaukee to see Johnson Wax Administration Building, Research Tower, Wingspread and his late work, the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church.

Days 6–7: Continue to Madison for a full estate tour of Taliesin and to visit the first Usonian home, Jacobs House I.

Days 8–9: Fly to Buffalo to view the Darwin Martin House, Graycliff and to tour Niagara Falls.

Days 10–13: Coach to Pittsburgh to see iconic Fallingwater and Kentuck Knob.

Detailed Itinerary

Start & Finish

The tour begins at our hotel in Chicago and ends at Pittsburgh International Airport. Qantas offers the most direct flights into Chicago and onwards from Pittsburgh. Contact us for quotes and bookings.

Detailed Itinerary

Included meals are shown with the symbols B, L and D.

Sunday May 17: Arrive

Arrive in Chicago and meet your tour leader and fellow travellers for a welcome drink. Overnight Chicago

Monday May 18: Downtown Chicago

The Great Fire of 1871 destroyed the entire Chicago CBD, leaving the way open for architects to design a new and modern city. The first steel-framed high-rise building rose in 1885 and the skyline today is densely packed with skyscrapers, many by renowned architects. Our walking tour this morning takes us past some of the city’s most iconic buildings. We visit the lobby of the Rookery Building, the masterpiece of Daniel Burnham and remodelled by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1905. In the afternoon we take the Chicago Architectural Foundation River Cruise to gain an overview of the city’s historic and modern architectural styles. Tonight, we have a welcome dinner and lecture in a local restaurant. Overnight Chicago (B, D)

Tuesday May 19: Frank Lloyd Wright – The Early Years & Farnsworth House

Today we take a private coach tour of Oak Park. This Chicago suburb is where Frank Lloyd Wright lived and worked and where much of his early work can still be found. We have an interior tour of Wright’s home and studio, which Wright used as his architecture laboratory for his early designs, as well as Unity Temple, one of his most celebrated designs. We then view the numerous examples of Prairie Style architecture in the surrounding neighbourhood. In the afternoon, we drive west to Plano to visit Farnsworth House, the masterpiece of Modernist residential architecture by Mies van der Rohe, set in a beautiful landscape beside the Fox River. Overnight Chicago (B)

Wednesday May 20: Chicago Art and Architecture

We begin our day with a walk through Millennium Park. Originally occupied by railyards and parking lots, the area was redeveloped into a public space featuring an outdoor concert venue, gardens, restaurants and some spectacular art installations. From here we make our way to the highly-regarded Art Institute of Chicago, boasting a fine collection of both European and American painting and over 60 ‘decorated rooms’ – accurately reconstructed furnished interiors from a broad range of times and places. After a private guided tour, there is time to explore the collection independently and a break for lunch. In the afternoon we travel by coach for a private interior visit and evening cocktail reception in Robie House. Our trip takes us through the ‘White City’ – the site of the 1893 World’s Fair. Overnight Chicago (B)

Thursday May 21: SC Johnson Complex

We farewell Chicago and travel north to Racine, Wisconsin to visit the SC Johnson Wax Administration Building and Research Tower, a landmark in commercial office architecture. Subject to availability, we will also tour Wingspread, the expansive low-lying home designed for Herbert Johnson, one of Wright’s great patrons. We continue onto Milwaukee to visit the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, Wright’s modernist interpretation of Byzantine architecture, and take in some of the history and architecture of the city. Overnight Milwaukee (B)

Friday May 22: Milwaukee

This morning we visit the Milwaukee Art Museum to see the Prairie School Archives and later tour one of Wright’s American System-Built homes. We then travel west for a private visit to Jacobs House I, considered the first ‘Usonian’ home, part of Wright’s ideal of a new world architecture free of previous conventions. We arrive in Madison, Wisconsin, our base for two nights and enjoy dinner in a local restaurant. Overnight Madison (B, D)

Saturday May 23: Taliesin

This remote site in rural Wisconsin was the architect’s home from 1911, and is of central importance to understanding Wright. Taliesin was twice burned down and rebuilt. It was also the scene of the horrific 1914 axe murder of Wright’s lover, her children and several employees. A complex of buildings, combining Prairie Style and oriental influences, it was here that Wright designed Fallingwater, the Guggenheim Museum and other key works. We tour the house, the grounds and the studio, today an important training centre for emerging American architects. In the afternoon we visit the Unitarian Meeting House, designed by Wright and recognised as one of the most innovative examples of church architecture, followed by a visit to the Monona Terrace Convention Center, designed by Wright but only constructed in 1997. Tonight is a free evening. Overnight Madison (B)

Sunday May 24: Upstate New York

This morning we take a flight from Madison to Buffalo, New York. Located on the shores of Lake Erie, Buffalo rose to prominence in the early 19th century, when the Erie Canal was completed, connecting Chicago and the Mid-West with the Hudson River, New York and the world beyond. After New York City, Buffalo is the second most populous city in the state. It has many significant buildings, including Louis B Sullivan’s Guaranty Building and Daniel Burnham’s Ellicott Square building. This afternoon we tour some of these sites and dine in a local restaurant. Overnight Buffalo (B, D)

Monday May 25: Wright in Buffalo, Niagara Falls

Between 1903 and 1908 Frank Lloyd Wright built a number of fine examples of his Prairie Style houses in Buffalo, and we survey these today, and visit the Darwin D. Martin House. Most of the houses were built for executives of the Larkin Soap Factory and are located in the Parkside East Historic District, a neighbourhood laid out by renowned American landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted in 1876 (Olmstead is also largely responsible for New York’s Central Park). This afternoon we relax at Niagara Falls, one of America’s foremost natural wonders. Overnight Buffalo (B)

Tuesday May 26: The Steel City

We travel along the shores of Lake Erie to visit Graycliff, the summer home built by Wright for Darwin Martin, which is undergoing extensive renovation. We continue onto Pittsburgh this morning, a city whose name is synonymous with the coal and steel industry. The city’s wealth contributed to its rich cultural heritage and few patrons were as generous as Andrew Carnegie, a Pittsburgh-based industrialist who made his fortune out of steel and endowed many of the city’s cultural institutions. In the afternoon we’ll tour some of its historical and architectural highlights. Overnight Pittsburgh (B)

Wednesday May 27: Pittsburgh Philanthropy

Pittsburgh’s history as the industrial heartland of America is matched by its premier cultural, educational and artistic institutions, a legacy of the great industrialists-cum-philanthropists who owed their fortunes to steel, coal and aluminium. Today we’ll sample some of the finest, including a guided tour of the famous Carnegie Museum of Art and its stunning Hall of Architecture, as well as the Heinz Chapel and Cathedral of Learning at the University of Pittsburgh, and the stunning Phipps Conservatory in spring bloom. Overnight Pittsburgh (B, D)

Thursday May 28: Fallingwater Private Tour

We depart Pittsburgh early today and make our way to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater where we enjoy a private interior tour of the house. Completed in 1939, its dramatic setting over a river and revolutionary modernist architecture made the house instantly famous. Built for the wealthy Kaufmann family, who made their fortune in retail, Fallingwater was a private retreat until the early 1960’s, when the house and several hundred acres of land around it were entrusted to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. We also visit nearby Kentuck Knob, a private house built for the Hagen family in 1954 and a good example of Wright’s later style. The current owner, Lord Palumbo, has also installed an impressive contemporary sculpture garden on the property. We return to Pittsburgh this evening for a farewell dinner at Altius, overlooking the city. Overnight Pittsburgh (B, D)

Friday May 29: Warhol and Farewell

Before departing Pittsburgh today, we visit the Andy Warhol Museum. The sometimes-controversial artist was a Pittsburgh native, and the recently-opened museum contains a broad sampling of his oeuvre. We then head to Pittsburgh airport where our tour ends, allowing for convenient flight connections home to Australia. (B)

Dr Matthew Laing

A political scientist and expert in US history, with a doctorate on the history of the United States presidency.

Dr Matthew Laing is a historian and political scientist at Monash University who has led tours to the Americas and Europe with Academy Travel for five years. He has a strong personal interest in architecture, cultural history and modern art, with a particular expertise in the United States.

Matthew holds a BA and PhD from the Australian National University, and wrote his doctorate on the history of the United States presidency. He has worked as a lecturer and research fellow at the Australian National University, Utrecht University in the Netherlands, and now at Monash University in Melbourne. He is an accredited ADFAS lecturer and frequently holds public lecture series in Melbourne. He currently teaches United States history and leadership, and has published on both topics.

Matthew’s tours strive for intellectual engagement and to reveal the stories, both big and small, that can bring history to life. A voracious reader and traveller, Matthew strives to be a generalist and draws upon a wide range of subjects – from politics to architecture – to develop his understanding of a place. Matthew’s passion for the United States started as an intern in the United States Congress in 2007. Since then he has made dozens of trips across the country, for both work and pleasure, and is closing in on his goal of visiting all 50 states. He has lectured and written on a wide variety of US subjects, including the American Revolution, the Gilded Age, and American Modernist architecture. Matthew also lived in the Netherlands for two years and has travelled widely there, and has a particular interest in Scandinavia and Eastern Europe.

Matthew has been tour leading for Academy Travel annually since 2013, with many tours to the United States and Europe, and is now taking on a greater role managing and developing further tours in these regions, including developing new tours to areas like the Southern United States.

We asked Matthew, what do you enjoy most about leading a group tour?

“As an academic, the personal joy of leading tours for Academy Travel is that I get one of the best classrooms I could ask for of intelligent and attentive global travellers who share my passion for learning about our world. And yet often I also find myself the student – with intellectually-engaged travellers from all walks of life, some of the most stimulating debates and discussions I’ve had are with my clients on tours.”

“I think those who come on tour with me benefit most from my enthusiasm, energy and passion – whether it’s a giving a morning lecture or having a causal chat at lunch, I’m always striving to draw out new insights and connections that can further understanding and increase engagement.”

View Bio & Upcoming Tours


Hotels have been selected principally for their central location.

Tour Inclusions

What is included in the tour price? 

Unless otherwise stated in the itinerary, our tours include the following:

  • Any flights mentioned in the itinerary that take place during a tour
  • Land travel by private air-conditioned coach. Where appropriate, taxis or public transport are also used for short distance travel on some tours
  • All accommodation in hotels or apartments as stated in the itinerary
  • Breakfasts, lunches and dinners specifically stated as included in the itinerary
  • Drinks at welcome and farewell meals. Other meals may not have drinks included
  • Background talks on tour, site notes and online resources
  • Services of tour leader throughout tour
  • All entrance fees to sites mentioned in the itinerary
  • Local guides at some sites
  • Tips for drivers, local guides and restaurants for included meals
  • Costs involved in obtaining visas for countries visited, where required and when stated as included

Airport Transfers

Tours begin either at the arrival airport or the first hotel, depending on the itinerary. If you have booked your international flights with Academy Travel and arrive before the tour commences, we will provide airport to hotel transfers to the closest main city on your arrival, and to the closest airport at the end of the tour. These may be either individual or group transfers.

What is not included in the tour price?

Our tours do not include the following:

  • Return international/domestic air travel unless those flights take place during the tour
  • Special taxes and airport levies that can only be paid in cash at the destination. We will advise you of these charges (if any) before you depart
  • Travel insurance. We require all participants to have comprehensive travel insurance. A typical policy for one of our tours will cost from $160 upwards, depending on your age, pre-existing medical conditions, the countries you are visiting and the overall length of your trip
  • Lunches and dinners not specifically mentioned as included in the itinerary
  • Personal expenses such as laundry and phone calls
  • Costs associated with any activity mentioned as “optional” in the itinerary, or any suggested free time activity


Booking Conditions

You will be asked to sign an acknowledgement of these conditions when you book a place on a tour.


A deposit of $500 per person is required to confirm your booking on a tour. Final payment of the tour fee, insurance and any additional travel will be due 60 days before departure.

Cancellation Fees

If you decide to cancel your booking the following charges apply:

  • More than 60 days before departure: $500*
  • 60-45 days before tour start: 25% of total amount due
  • 44-15 days before tour start: 75% of total amount due
  • 14 days or less before departure: 100% of total amount due

*This amount may be credited to another Academy Travel tour within 12 months of the original tour you booked.

Unused Portions of the tour

We regret that refunds will not be given for any unused portions of the tour, such as meals, entry fees, accommodation, flights or transfers.

Travel Insurance

Academy Travel requires all participants to obtain comprehensive travel insurance. We offer a comprehensive policy with a reputable insurer if required.

Passport and Visa

A valid passport is required for all international travel. If you do not hold an Australian passport you may require a re-entry permit. Some countries require a visa to be issued before you depart Australia. We will advise you of all passport and visa requirements, but it is your responsibility to ensure that you meet passport and visa requirements before you depart.

Will the tour price change?

If the number of participants in a tour is significantly less than budgeted, or if there is a significant change in exchange rates Academy Travel reserves the right to amend the advertised price. If this occurs you will be given the option of cancelling your booking and obtaining a full refund. If an Academy Travel tour is forced to cancel you will get a full refund of all monies paid.

Will the itinerary change?

Occasionally circumstances beyond the control of Academy Travel make it necessary to change airline, hotel or to make slight amendments to daily itineraries. We will inform you of any changes as soon as they occur.

Final Payment

Full and final payment for the tour, airfare travel, insurance and any additional travel you book is due 60 days before departure. Payment may be made by bank deposit, cheque, cash or credit card. Please note there is a surcharge for payments made by credit card.

Academy Travel reserves the right to decline the booking or terminate the holiday of any traveller. We aim to be fair and reasonable in all our dealings with our clients. We aim to provide full and accurate information about our tours and promptly provide information of any changes or alterations that take place before departure.

Tour Details

Fitness Requirement

Grade Two

A Grade 2 tour is appropriate for travellers in good health with good mobility, who can comfortably participate in up to 3 hours of physical activity per day on most days.
More Details


A limited number of places remain on this tour and as such, internet bookings are not taken. Please contact our travel consultant listed below if you wish to make a booking.

Hold a Place Download Booking Form

Speak to a consultant

For further information or to secure a place on this tour please contact:
Jamal Fairbrother 02 9235 0023 or 1800 639 699
(outside Sydney)

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