zünpartners Creates a Virtual Time Machine Allowing for Unprecedented Access to a Frank Lloyd Wright Masterpiece in its Original 1910 form

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zünpartners creates a virtual time machine of the 1910 Frank Lloyd Wright Robie House restoration, where visitors can become closely engaged in the process and witness a step by step completion of Robie House interior restoration before their eyes. This level of detailed digital historic restoration has never been done before, and this home's historic reproduction has not been seen for 100 years.

(The site is) much richer than I imagined we could achieve, and I always have high expectations.

zünpartners creates a virtual time machine of the 1910 Frank Lloyd Wright Robie House restoration, where visitors can become closely engaged in the process and witness a step by step completion of Robie House interior restoration before their eyes. This level of detailed digital historic restoration has never been done before, and this home's historic reproduction has not been seen for 100 years.

The historical and artistic significance of Frank Lloyd Wright's Robie House cannot be overstated. Considered one of the most important buildings in American architecture, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and named by Architectural Record as one of the seven most notable residences ever built in America. Robie House is considered the first Modernist home, and it unquestionably influenced Le Corbusier, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and Walter Gropius--who collectively gave rise to the International Style of Architecture. The Robie House is now in the stalwart hands of the Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust (FLWPT), who is undertaking a complete historic restoration of the home to its original 1910 splendor in time for the building's centennial celebration.

With the structural restoration almost complete, it became clear they would need to resource additional funding to complete the interior's significant final details. FLWPT wanted a Website for visitors to become closely engaged in the Robie House restoration process, helping to encourage the donations required for its completion. It also wanted to use this phase of the restoration as an educational opportunity to demonstrate how these important final details work in concert with the custom-designed furniture and decorative arts to complete Wright's vision. To help it meet these objectives, FLWPT hired zünpartners, whom it had worked with previously to design the FLWPT Website and the Wrightway travel Website. The goal--recreate the interior of the Robie House as Wright envisioned it in 1910 through an interactive experience where visitors can explore the final stages of the restoration and design in detail.

Working from historic black-and-white photos, zün collaborated with James Eaton Design to create an immersive virtual tour of the Robie House main floor, as Wright originally designed it. With painstaking attention to detail, the Robie House interior began to take shape. The color schemes for the carpet were sampled from actual yarn threads archived at the Milwaukee Art Museum. The table was recreated using a composite of photographs taken on the original's site, housed in the Smart Museum of Art. The last remaining original table lantern owned by the Art Institute of Chicago was used as the guide to digitally rebuild the missing four. The table runners were digitally recreated from scratch, using historical photos and vintage fabric. Visitors can see the room's restoration process from its condition at acquisition to a final view showing the fully restored room. The most dramatic and unique effect is the restoration of Wright's lighting scheme. Reproduction period light bulbs were sampled for their correct color and glow. Emphasis was placed on subtle details, such as the pattern the grill on top of the sconces projected on the wall when illuminated. The composition of different fixtures and lights and the sophistication with which they work together in the environment is something unseen for a century. "We created an extremely unique opportunity for visitors to be inside of the Robie House at night, with the original period lights on--something that cannot not be seen anywhere else--even by touring the home in person. When you see the lighting, you realize how organic the space continues to be, even after the sun goes down. This level of detailed digital historic restoration has never been done before. We not only brought the visitor back in time; we gave them an authentic experience that was last seen 100 years ago and shared with them the vision of our client as true stewards and champions of an American masterpiece--and one worthy of their contribution," said Bill Ferdinand, founder and creative director at zün. As one who restored his own Frank Lloyd Wright home in Oak Park, Ferdinand especially appreciates such a project's challenges, of which there were many.

Commented Cheryl A. Bachand, vice president of Museum Programs at FLWPT, "(The site is) much richer than I imagined we could achieve, and I always have high expectations." The finished product is a Website allowing visitors to interact with the restoration process step-by-step through to its completion--a virtual time machine offering a rare glimpse into an architectural masterpiece, as it was in 1910 Frank Lloyd Wright Robie House Virtual Restoration

zün is proud to collaborate with FLWPT to help it achieve its educational and financial goals for the Robie House.

zün is a design consultancy focused on brand identity and its expression. Since 1991, we have helped organizations develop their persona through images and messages across all marketing channels.

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Lisa Bensinger

Bill Ferdinand
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