Oct 14 - 26, 2018
13 days
$9,870per person, twin share (land content only). $2,170 supplement for sole use of a hotel room

Tour Leader

Stuart Barrie
Oct 14 - 26, 2018

Tour Leader

Stuart Barrie$9,870per person, twin share (land content only). $2,170 supplement for sole use of a hotel room
  • Tour Info
  • Itinerary
  • Tour Leader
  • Hotels
  • Inclusions


Explore the development of America’s unique mid-century modernist architecture and design on this new 13-day tour, from its early proponents, such as Richard Neutra and Albert Frey, to the master of international architecture, Mies van der Rohe. Enjoy “Desert Modernism” in Palm Springs and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West in Arizona; Columbus, Indiana with its unique collection of civic buildings; and Chicago’s modern masterpieces. Private guided visits to homes and major galleries, walking tours, concert performances and the rich history and culture of America in the modern era round out the touring program.


  • The development of modernist American architecture and design
  • Outstanding art collections at Chicago’s Art Institute and the Getty Center and The Broad, LA
  • The emergence of the western USA as a global economic and cultural force of the 20th century
  • Dramatic desert landscapes in Palm Springs and Arizona
  • The life and times of 20th-century “starchitects”, from Frank Lloyd Wright to Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Richard Meier and Aero Saarinen


  • In-depth tours of Hollyhock House and Taliesin West, two of Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpieces
  • Visits of modernist icons, Charles and Ray Eames House in Malibu and Farnsworth House, Illinois
  • Tours of Palm Springs and Columbus, Indiana with their unique concentrations of modernist architecture
  • Concert performance in Frank Gehry’s exuberant Walt Disney Concert Hall
  • Docent-led tours of the Getty Center in LA and the Art Institute of Chicago
  • Chicago River cruise with the Chicago Architecture Foundation

Itinerary Overview

Days 1–3: 20th-century “starchitects”, from Frank Lloyd Wright to Neutra, Meier and Gehry.

Days 4–5: The marriage of modernism with desert landscape at Palm Springs’ Albert Frey House and Architecture & Design Center.

Days 6–9: Outside Phoenix, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West, beloved winter home and architectural laboratory. In Columbus, Indiana, the “Athens on the Prairie”, Eero Saarinen, I.M. Pei and Richard Meier.

Days 10–13: Mies van der Rohe at Farnsworth House and the Institute of Technology, Chicago’s outstanding Art Institute, architectural river cruise.

A detailed itinerary for this tour is available. Click on the link above to view or download.

Getting There

We recommend either Qantas or United, who both have daily flights to Los Angeles and from Chicago. Discounted fares are regularly offered, so please contact us for quotes and bookings.

Detailed Itinerary

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

Sunday October 14: Santa Monica and the Getty Center

We meet at the hotel at 12.00pm and begin with a visit to the Getty Center. Richard Meier’s 1997 building houses the remarkable collection of J. Paul Getty and has stunning views of Los Angeles. We return to Santa Monica for dinner in a local restaurant. Overnight Santa Monica, Los Angeles (D)

Monday October 15: A survey of LA modernism

Prosperous and forward-looking, Los Angeles was at the vanguard of the emerging style that became known as mid-century modernism. This morning we visit Hollyhock House, Frank Lloyd Wright’s first Los Angeles commission from 1921. We continue to Silver Lake – the largest concentration of buildings designed by Richard Neutra, mainly in the 1950s. More gems follow in the afternoon, including the Bradbury Building and Kings Road House, Rudolf Schindler’s 1922 landmark residence. Overnight Santa Monica (B)

Tuesday October 16: Eames, Getty & Gehry

This morning we visit the Ray and Charles Eames Case Study House No 8 to learn about these key figures in American modernism. This is followed by a visit to the Getty Villa in Malibu. Modelled on a first-century Roman Villa at Herculaneum, the Getty Villa illustrates the equally strong tendency towards historicism in American architecture. The afternoon is free to explore Santa Monica and its famous Pier and nearby Venice Beach. This evening we return to the contemporary with an evening performance in the Frank Gehry designed Walt Disney Concert Hall, home to the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra (subject to availability). Overnight Santa Monica. (B)

Wednesday October 17: To the desert

This morning we travel by private coach the “96 miles” to Palm Springs – the furthest distance the Hollywood studios would allow their contracted stars to travel in the 1920’s, something which put Palm Springs on the map as a perfect getaway. En route we will visit the Noah Purifoy Desert Art Museum of Assemblage Art, created by an established artist in the 1980s. Set on a 10-acre desert site and constructed entirely from discarded materials, this remarkable museum is one of California’s undiscovered artistic treasures. Dinner and overnight Palm Springs. (B, D)

Thursday October 18: Palm Springs Modern

Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope, Dean Martin, Liberace – they all had luxury homes in Palm Springs. There were also luxury resorts, private hideaways, golf courses and other trappings of Hollywood lifestyle, creating a distinctive Desert Modernism style. We spend the day exploring the city’s diverse neighbourhoods to see characteristic homes by noted architects such as Albert Frey and Richard Neutra and civic buildings that influenced public architecture throughout the world. A highlight will be an interior visit of the Frey House II as well as a visit to the Palm Springs Art Museum Architecture and Design Center. Overnight Palm Springs. (B)

Friday October 19: Sunnylands and Taliesin

This morning we visit Sunnylands, the former home of Walter and Leonore Annenberg. Designed by A Quincy Jones using modernist geometry and exposed structures, Sunnylands has elegant interiors and museum quality art works. In the late morning we travel by coach to Scottsdale, Arizona. This evening we take a special illuminations tour of Frank Lloyd Wright’s beloved winter home, Taliesin West. Opened in 1937 and maintained almost entirely by Wright and his apprentices, Taliesin West is one of his most personal creations. Overnight Scottsdale (B, D)

Saturday October 20: Scottsdale modernism

This morning we return to Taliesin West for an indepth tour before touring the Arizona Biltmore Hotel, designed in partnership between Wright and Albert Chase McArthur and opened in 1929. This remarkable resort fuses Wright’s modernism sensibilities with the fashion for Art Deco, at the height of vogue when the Biltmore opened. We enjoy lunch in the hotel before spending the afternoon exploring Old Scottsdale, one of the original settlements of Arizona, long absorbed into the urban fabric of Phoenix. Tonight, subject to availability, we attend a concert at the Gammage Auditorium. Frank Lloyd Wright’s design was intended for an opera house for Baghdad, Iraq, but never realised. Overnight Scottsdale (B)

Sunday October 21: To the Mid-West

This morning we fly from Phoenix to Indianapolis and from there take a coach to Columbus, Indiana. Allowing for flight time and a change in time zone, we arrive in the late afternoon. There is dinner in Columbus this evening. Overnight Columbus. (B, D)

Monday October 22: Columbus, Indiana

Conde Naste Traveler magazine describes Columbus as ‘One of the world’s best cities for architecture lovers’. Little visited by travellers from abroad, it is a jewel-box of modern architecture, with buildings by Eero Saarinen, I.M. Pei, Robert Venturi, Cesar Pelli and Richard Meier.  This legacy is the result of the vision of J. Irwin Miller, chairman and president of the Cummins Engine Company, and his wife. We spend the day exploring a range of public and private buildings with a local expert guide, including all six registered as National Historic Landmarks, the United States’ most prestigious heritage listing. Overnight Columbus. (B)

Tuesday October 23: The Prairies

We travel north to Chicago today, visiting two important buildings en route. The B. Harley Bradley House in Kankakee, built in 1900, was Frank Lloyd Wright’s first attempt at the Prairie style, but unlike most other examples, this one is actually situated on a prairie. In the afternoon we take a private tour of Mies Van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House at Plano, Illinois. The minimalist international style was revolutionary in 1951, but went on to profoundly influence domestic architecture. We arrive in Chicago in the evening, with dinner in a restaurant near our hotel. Overnight Chicago. (B, D)

Wednesday October 24: Chicago modern

Our examination of Mies Van der Rohe continues with the Illinois Institute of Technology, a landmark assembly of buildings in Mies’ International Style. In the downtown area, we visit Mies’ Federal Center and a range of other commercial and public buildings, spanning most of the 20th century and encompassing a range of styles. Tonight, schedules permitting, we attend a performance by the renowned Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Louis B Sullivan’s 1904 Symphony Center. Overnight Chicago. (B)

Thursday October 25: Chicago contemporary

Chicago has a renowned fine arts and design scene. We begin the morning at Millennium Park, admiring Anish Kapoor’s Cloudgate, Frank Gehry’s Pritzker Pavilion and other works, before heading to the Art Institute of Chicago. This large museum holds a famous collection of French Impressionist paintings and an excellent 20th-century collection, housed in a Renzo Piano designed wing. After a private guided tour, there is time to explore the collection independently and a break for lunch.  In the afternoon we take an architectural cruise on the Chicago River. The relaxing and entertaining cruise provides a summation of Chicago’s modern architecture. This evening we share a farewell dinner in a local restaurant. Overnight Chicago. (B, D)

Saturday October 26: Robie House

Our tour culminates with a private visit to the Robie House of 1909, the high point of Wright’s Prairie Style. Close to the Robie House is the campus of the University of Chicago and the site of the 1893 World’s Fair, which put Chicago on the map as a city of international renown. In the afternoon there is a transfer to Chicago’s O’Hare airport for onward and homeward flights. (B)

Stuart Barrie

Is a director of Academy Travel and has over 20 years' experience in travel, including leading groups through western Europe, Russia and the United States.

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”.

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 public transport is 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

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?
Open-age 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
  • Costs involved in obtaining visas for countries visited, where required
  • 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.

Fitness rating

Grade 2

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


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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)

Detailed Itinerary

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