Read more about our excursion to Indian
View photos and learn more about Don Erickson and his Barrington Estate
Hilton Chicago Indian Lakes Resort is not
actually the work not of Frank Lloyd Wright but of a
student of the master. His name is
Don Erickson, an apprentice of Wright's from 1948 to 1951, and he had actually once dreamed of being a concert pianist.
Time spent with Wright had changed his mind, and lucky for us it did.
was an enterprise of the Carson Pirie Scott Company; in the mid-1970's
Carson International decided to buy the Indian Lakes Country Club property
and build a resort there. The original plan called for the facilities
to be much like Nordic Hills, another Carson property in nearby Itasca.
Erickson was hired for the project; his vision though, was a bit different... and it
was this Wright-inspired vision that resulted in an impressive resort and beautiful haven for
relaxation. Originally opened in June of 1982, the remnants of the
Master are omnipresent in the buildings; from the gigantic chains that contribute to holding
the building's ceiling in a breath-taking and awe-inspiring expanse, to the
zigzag corridors, to the
walls (similar to Wright's textile block system
but looking more like faded cedar than cement) and many other touches that
any Wright follower would instantly recognize, the resort is a study in architecture
-- inspired by a master architect.
ďMy theory is you donít design until you analyze what the
clients needs are. You have to analyze the problem. You do that up here, not
with a pencil. When you analyze the problem, the solution becomes apparent.
The problem becomes the solution which becomes the idea. I always come up
with the idea sitting and listening to classical music, or driving in a car,
or over the roar of the jet engine, flying cross country. You argue with
yourself. You become enough of a critic to overcome the euphoria of an idea.
You have to bring the euphoria to something which is manageable, which
works, which is within your budget." Don Erickson
Erickson's original vision included eliminating "much of the stigma of
conventional hotels with their stark, non-ending and uninteresting corridors
and shoebox-like guestrooms". The result was hexagonal-shaped modules
for the overall structure as well as for the individual rooms -- a design
based on another project he had done in Jamaica. He also wanted his
design to instill the tropical feel from the Caribbean resort. He was
extremely successful on both counts, as the central atrium offers the lush
tropical feel and the hexagons are evident throughout. Banquet facilities, meeting rooms, pool, spa and other
amenities offered by the resort well-managed and comfortable; the golf course is the
exclamation point... especially if you are a golf fanatic.
And by the way, the feel is as
comfortable as a resort can have. Its 300-plus oversized guest rooms -- all
offering either a view of the indoor atrium, the surrounding landscape or
the golf course -- are well-appointed and very comfortable; situated on 260
acres, the resort itself is the largest in the Chicago area. Of
particular note, the resort has undergone a multi-million dollar facelift
and conversion to a Hilton brand resort over the last year and a half.
Included was a complete makeover of guest rooms, including unique ceiling
treatments, new wall covering, bedding, and carpeting. The resort's
public spaces and all three restaurants are also up for refurbishing, as are
the meeting spaces and even the golf course. Even Erickson himself is
pleased with the makeover, saying that he is "happy to see the Wright
influence enhanced", adding that "I know that Mr. Wright would be honored as
Reprinted with permission (www.onthefox.com)