Take a unique opportunity to view more than 15 of Frank Lloyd Wright’s buildings, discovering how his designs for houses, churches and offices changed modern architecture.
On this 12-day journey, appreciate the development of modern American history and culture, from the Gilded Age to the mid-century, when American architecture, design and art dominated the world stage. In Chicago’s Oak Park, at the Darwin Martin Houses and the Taliesin estate, and on a private in-depth tour of Frank Lloyd Wright’s iconic Fallingwater, appreciate the natural inspiration of Wright’s Prairie style and how it responded to and encouraged a changing lifestyle.
Encounter Wright’s predecessors, contemporaries and followers, including Louis B. Sullivan, Mies van der Rohe and Norman Forster, to put the master’s work into context. The experience is rounded out by the fascinating cultural institutions of the cities we visit, such as Chicago’s Art Institute and Pittsburgh’s Andy Warhol Museum, and by the fine dining for which America is increasingly known.
COVID-19? Book with confidence
If Government imposed COVID-19 restrictions mean that we cannot run a tour, or that you cannot travel to join a tour, then you will be given a 100% refund of all monies paid to Academy Travel for your tour.
Academy Travel requires all participants on its tours to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19. We reserve the right to inspect your digital vaccination certificate.
Fallingwater, Wright’s masterwork
Admire the ultimate expression of organic architecture on a private in-depth tour of Wright’s most famous design, Fallingwater, the “best all-time work of American architecture.”
The length and breadth of Wright’s designs
Discover the diversity of Wright’s style, exploring over 15 masterworks spanning seven decades of incredible creativity, from the clean Prairie Style of Robie House to the intimate Taliesin estate and elegant Johnson Wax Building.
Art in America
Enjoy great collections of art, from Old Masters to Pop, in Chicago’s encyclopaedic Art Institute and at Pittsburgh’s exuberant Andy Warhol Museum.
Dining with Frank Lloyd Wright
Soak up the atmosphere with meals in Wright-designed buildings, from a brunch at Fallingwater, lunch at Taliesin and dinner at Polymath Park.
Natural wonders of the world
Marvel at Niagara Falls, an awe-inspiring and iconic series of waterfalls on the border between the USA and Canada, and centre of a beautiful National Park.
The tour starts at 6.00pm on Friday 5 May, at the Kimpton Gray Hotel, Chicago. The tour finishes in the afternoon on Tuesday 16 May, at Pittsburgh airport.
Included meals are indicated with B, L, D.
Friday 5 May Arrive
Arrive in Chicago and meet your tour leader and fellow travellers for a welcome drink. Overnight Chicago.
Saturday 6 May 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 dinner in a local restaurant. Overnight Chicago (B, D)
Sunday 7 May 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)
Monday 8 May 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 cocktail reception in Robie House. Our trip takes us through the ‘White City’ – the site of the 1893 World’s Fair. Overnight Chicago (B)
Tuesday 9 May 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 on to Milwaukee to visit the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, Wright’s modernist interpretation of Byzantine architecture, and to take in some of the history and architecture of the city. Overnight Milwaukee (B)
Wednesday 10 May Milwaukee
This morning we visit the Milwaukee Art Museum to see the Prairie School Archives and later to 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)
Thursday 11 May 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 entire Estate including Hillside School, Tan-y-Deri, the house, the grounds and the studio with drinks on Wright’s private balcony and lunch in the Wright designed Riverview Terrace Café. In the afternoon we visit the Unitarian Meeting House, designed by Wright and now recognised as one of the most innovative examples of church architecture, before visiting the Monona Terrace Convention Center, designed by Wright but only constructed in 1997. The evening is at leisure. Overnight Madison (B, L)
Friday 12 May 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 nineteenth 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)
Saturday 13 May 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 along with 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)
Sunday 14 May Pittsburgh
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 tour some of the city’s historical and architectural highlights. Overnight Pittsburgh (B)
Monday 15 May Private tour of Fallingwater
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. After our in-depth tour, we enjoy brunch on the sculpture patio. Continuing to nearby Polymath Park, there is the opportunity to visit a group of houses designed by Wright to harmonise with the American way of life in the 1950s. Afterwards, we dine together on site at Polymath Park. Overnight Pittsburgh (B, D)
Tuesday 16 May 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)
A social historian and founding director of Academy Travel, with strong interests in the history and architecture of the USA.
Stuart Barrie is a social historian with strong interests in modern history, and in particular Europe and the USA in the twentieth century, and lately modern architecture, especially the residential architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright. The development of his latest interests arose from the intersection of the Bauhaus Movement and the Prarie style of architecture developed by Wright.
Stuart has a BA from Macquarie University and a MComm from the University of NSW and has been leading tours for over 30 years. He started working for a leading coach tour operator in the mid 1980’s leading tours throughout the UK, Western Europe and into the then Soviet Republic and Eastern Europe. His passion for tour leading led him to be a founding director of Academy Travel and he has led over 20 tours for Academy.
A particular interest has been observing the radical changes that have occurred in group tourism over the past 30 years and the changing landscape of cities. His favourite city is Berlin, from his first visit entering East Berlin through Checkpoint Charlie and being forced to exchange West German Marks into virtually worthless East German Marks, to visiting the vibrant city that Berlin is today with the ironic focal shift from the former “1960’s modern” West Berlin central area to the preserved, through neglect, historic Museum Island area.
His latest passion has been the modern architecture movement of the mid twentieth century in America, primarily of Frank Lloyd Wright, but also of Meis Van der Rohe, Philip Johnson, Richard Neutra and Albert Frey. This has led Stuart to develop and lead several architecture themed tours throughout the USA following the “Frank Lloyd Wright Trail”.
Hotels have been selected principally for their central location.
Chicago, Kimpton Gray Hotel (4 nights)
Milwaukee, The Pfister Hotel (1 night)
Madison Wisconsin, Madison Concourse Hotel (2 nights)
Buffalo, Curtiss Hotel (2 nights)
Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, Omni William Penn Hotel (2 nights)
What is included in the tour price?
Unless otherwise stated in the itinerary, our tours include the following:
All accommodation at properties mentioned in the itinerary
Land travel by private air-conditioned coach. Taxis may also be used for short trips on some tours. Some city stay tours may involve local transport
Lunches and dinners indicated with the letters L and D in the itinerary
Beer, wine and soft drinks at sit-down lunches and dinners. Picnic and light lunches may not include alcoholic drinks
Services of tour leader throughout tour
All entrance fees to sites mentioned in the itinerary
Local guides at some sites
All tips for drivers, local guides and restaurants for included meals
On international tours only
Costs involved in obtaining visas for countries visited, where required, and when stated as included
Background talks on tour, site notes and online resources
Any flights mentioned in the itinerary that take place during a tour
Some trips may be made by public transport such as high-speed train and subway
What is not included in the tour price?
Our tours do not include the following:
Air or land travel from your home city to the tour start/end points
Local taxes and airport levies that we are not able to prepay on your behalf. We will advise you of these charges (if any) before you depart
Lunches and dinners not specifically indicated with the letters L or D in the itinerary
Personal expenses such as passports, laundry and phone calls
Costs associated with any activity mentioned as “optional” in the itinerary, or any suggested free time activity
Airport Transfers on international tours
Tours may begin at either the arrival airport or the first hotel. 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
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, 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.
We require all tour participants to have adequate insurance coverage.
For domestic tours, Medicare and your private medical insurance should be used to cover any medical expenses.
Domestic travel insurance is available and strongly recommended to cover non-medical expenses such as cancellation.
For international tours, we require you to have comprehensive travel insurance. Prices vary according to your age, your pre-existing medical conditions, the countries you are visiting and the length of your journey abroad.