Frank Lloyd Wright church to be geothermal

August 16, 2005

A nearly 100-year-old Frank Lloyd Wright-designed church near Chicago will reportedly become the first Wright landmark to utilize geothermal energy.

The Unity Temple Restoration Foundation said Tuesday the project will not help preserve the building and will bring additional international attention to the church.

Designed in 1905, the Oak Park, Ill, Unitarian Universalist church was built for approximately $60,000. Wright used cast-in-place reinforced concrete as structural and decorative material in order to reduce costs.

The foundation said Wright's cubic design broke barriers for both religious and secular architecture and provided Unity Temple with a singular distinction in the history of architecture.

The multi-million-dollar project to replace the building's antiquated heating and nearly non-existent cooling systems with the more environmentally friendly geothermal technology is compatible with the highest standards in historic preservation, said UTRF Executive Director Keith Bringe. "I believe Mr. Wright would approve of this plan," he added.

The geothermal system will reduce reliance on fossil fuels by up to 80 percent. The temple's ground source system will be supported by about 26 wells, each with a depth of 300 to 400 feet.

Copyright 2005 by United Press International

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