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Strikingly Modern: Residential Architecture of the 1930s-1960s

Strikingly Modern: Residential Architecture of the 1930s-1960s

Thursday, May 8, 12pm- 1pm

"Strikingly Modern" unquestionably defines Chicago’s great residential architecture of the 1930’s-1960s. Susan will talk about the development of the modern house in Chicago, illustrated by the work of its stellar Modernist architects--explaining why our City’s residential architecture of this period is "strikingly Modern." Arguably every important Mid Century architect in Chicago reverberated off of Frank Lloyd Wright and Mies van der Rohe, and they talk pointedly about how and why. Wright and Mies were the "elephants in the room."--their ideas and work accepted or rejected but never ignored.

At the turn of the 20th century, Wright established the Prairie School, which embraced geometry and transformed traditional architecture. In the 1930s and 1940s, Wright’s Usonian houses of wood and glass expanded on his earlier creativity. In 1937, Mies settled in Chicago and, drawing on his experience in Germany, created a pared down architecture of steel and glass. What evolved subsequently was an interesting synthesis that, very likely, could have taken place only in Chicago.

Susan will present Chicago’s place in Modern residential architecture, discussing other influences (Japanese, Scandinavian, etc.) In addition to talking about Mies’ Farnsworth House, Wright’s Usonian houses and Keck’s solar houses, she will illustrate her talk with homes by Paul Schweikher, Edward Dart, Bertrand Goldberg, Edward Humrich, Harry Weese, Jim Speyer, David Haid and Larry Perkins. The Paul Schweikher Home and Studio, the Wilmette house Harry Weese designed for his sister Sue and Jim Speyer’s house for Ben Rose and the adjacent auto museum by David Haid -- as well as Susan’s own Late Prairie house by Lawrence Perkins --will be featured.

Bring your lunch; beverages provided.

About Our Speaker


Susan Benjamin is an architectural historian with 35-plus years of experience in the world of historic preservation. Her firm, Benjamin Historic Certifications writes National Register nominations, historic resource reports and helps clients who rehab income producing buildings receive historic tax credits and those who rehab their homes receive a 12 year freeze on their property tax assessment. Three of her tax projects projects: The Power House for the Chicago & North Western Railway, the Hairpin Lofts and the Louis Ancel House in Glencoe, have won Driehaus Awards.

Susan is in the final stages of completing a National Register nomination for Chicago’s Park and Boulevard System: 26 miles and over 3000 buildings. She frequently lectures and has written two books, with architect Stuart Cohen on Chicago area architecture:Great Houses of Chicago: 1871-1921 and North Shore Chicago: Houses of the Lakefront Suburbs 1890-1940.

This event is sponsored by Historic Resources KC and docomomo Chicago chapter

Learning units: 1 LU/HSW

Location: AIA Chicago, 35 East Wacker Drive, #250

Member price: 0  
Non-member price: $15.00