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
Days 1–4: In Chicago, visit Millennium Park, the Art Institute of Chicago, Wright’s Home and Studio, Robie House and Farnsworth House. Architectural tour on the Chicago River.
Day 5: Coach to Milwaukee to see Johnson Wax Administration Building, Research Tower, the American System-Built Homes and his late work, the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church.
Days 6–7: Continue to Madison for a full estate tour of Taliesin, Wright’s long-time home and practice, and to visit the first Usonian home, Jacobs House I.
Days 8–9: Fly to Buffalo to view the Darwin Martin House with a private dinner within the complex, Graycliff and to tour the early skyscrapers of Buffalo and Niagara Falls.
Days 10–13: Coach to Pittsburgh to see iconic Fallingwater and Kentuck Knob, as well as the Carnegie Museum of Art, Phipps Conservatory and the Cathedral of Learning.
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.
Included meals are shown with the symbols B, L, D and C for canapés.
Sunday May 16: Arrive
Arrive in Chicago and meet your tour leader and fellow travellers for a welcome drink. Overnight Chicago
Monday May 17: 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 18: 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 19: 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, C)
Thursday May 20: 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 21: Milwaukee
This morning we tour the Burnham Block, one of the few intact examples of the American System-Built homes, Wright’s venture into mass suburban housing. We then enjoy a visit and some free time at the Milwaukee Art Museum, before travelling 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 22: 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 23: Darwin Martin House
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. Between 1903 and 1908, Frank Lloyd Wright built a number of fine examples of his Prairie Style houses in Buffalo, and we visit the most famous of these, the Darwin D. Martin House. After a private tour of the sprawling complex, we’ll have a private catered dinner in the Wright-designed Gardner’s Cottage on the campus. Overnight Buffalo (B, D)
Monday May 24: Buffalo and Niagara Falls
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. The morning we’ll take a tour of downtown’s most prominent architectural sites, including an ascent to the top of Buffalo’s incredible Art Deco City Hall. This afternoon we’ll relax at Niagara Falls, one of America’s foremost natural wonders. Overnight Buffalo (B)
Tuesday May 25: 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 26: 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)
Thursday May 27: 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 28: 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.”
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
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