Frank Lloyd Wright buildings I toured last year

January 8, 2017 Blog, California, Chicago Buildings, Vision and Style Comments (3) 2100

I have had the good fortune to serve on the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy Board for the last three years, and this has availed me of several opportunities to tour this great architect’s work.

The living room in Robie House, Chicago, shot by my daughter Felicity.

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Conservation Forensics

December 18, 2016 Blog, Chicago Buildings, Interpretation, Texas, Vision and Style Comments (3) 1124

Heritage conservation is forensic – that doesn’t just mean “crime scene,” it means an argument based on evidence. Continue Reading

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Concrete Culture and the One-Trick Pony

May 15, 2016 Blog, Chicago Buildings, Economics Comments (0) 336

Everyone in every borough goes to the Met, right?

I was going to write a blog about the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, now that I have been on hand to witness its demise on two waterfronts, one saltwater, one freshwater.  I spoke to fierce advocates, including a friend who was on the committee that selected the Chicago site south of Soldier Field.  I wondered why advocates had not developed a clear vision of what the museum was supposed to be, and I wondered whether lakefront museums designed for international tourists ever really serve the local population. Continue Reading

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The Vacant Stare

April 26, 2016 Blog, Chicago Buildings, Economics Comments (0) 316

Nothing to see here, move along, please.

In my last blog, I took the new leaders of historic Oak Park to task for forgetting why the Village is an attractive place and proposing the demolition of three nice old buildings (one of which definitely rates as a landmark) on Madison Street.  The proposed demolition is part of a road-bending plan that completely redeveloped several blocks. Continue Reading

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Oak Park Amnesia

April 20, 2016 Blog, Chicago Buildings, Economics Comments (4) 517

Oak Park Avenue in the 1970s

Well I have been back in Oak Park for over half a year now, and it just got listed as the coolest suburb in the Chicago area, in large part for its incredible historic architecture (over two dozen buildings by Frank Lloyd Wright – more than ANYWHERE, and tons more by other Prairie architects) and a rising restaurant and nightlife scene.

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Lathrop Homes, 3 years after

February 20, 2016 Chicago Buildings, Historic Districts, Sustainability Comments (1) 482

Full disclosure:  Four years ago, I was the Historic Preservation consultant for the Julia C. Lathrop Homes in Chicago, a very important 1937 federal housing project.  This past Thursday the Chicago Plan Commission approved the current plan for the project, which I ceased to work on when I left Chicago in July 2012. I took the opportunity to compare the plan to my April 2011 Preliminary Report and to the project at the time I left.

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The Demolition of Malcolm X College

October 13, 2015 Chicago Buildings Comments (1) 318

I am barely back in Chicago and another great Modernist masterpiece is going down.  I just reviewed the 372 page RFP for the demolition of Malcolm X College on the Near West Side, a 1971 Miesian design by Gene Summers, and generally considered his best building after his McCormick Place of the same year.  Summers had been Mies van der Rohe’s design assistant on the Neue National Gallery in Berlin.  Here is the beauty of the facade.  I was interviewed by the great Lee Bey on his podcast regarding this.

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Farnsworth House 2015

June 21, 2015 Chicago Buildings, House Museums, Sustainability, Technology Comments (1) 377

Last week.  Maybe next week too.

It has been 13 months since I last blogged about the Farnsworth House (Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, 1951).  In that blog I detailed the various options that had been studied to try to conserve the house despite the increased flooding of the Fox River at its location near Plano, Illinois. Continue Reading

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Resiliency and Climate Change

February 16, 2015 California, Chicago Buildings, Global Heritage, Sustainability, Technology Comments (0) 301

Last week in Colorado I showed two slides of the Farnsworth House, which I have been blogging about for a dozen years.  The first image came in the section of my talk about the Threats to our Heritage, such as Climate Change.  I had also showed images of it earlier in the week, when I participated in a Climate Change and Cultural Heritage conference in Pocantico, New York, with a whole variety of players, from colleagues at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, National Park Service, Society for American Archaeology, World Monuments Fund, English Heritage and many other, collected together by the Union of Concerned Scientists.  So here is the first slide, which is Farnsworth House experiencing a “100-year” flood for the first of three times in the last eight years. Continue Reading

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