Sep 22nd 2021

Faculty Book Documenting Modernist Homes Clinches Preservation Award

Modern in the Middle: Chicago Houses 1929–75, a book co-authored by Illinois Institute of Technology College of Architecture Professor and Ph.D. Program Director Michelangelo Sabatino and preservationist Susan S. Benjamin, has received a prestigious Docomomo Modernism in America Award. The award program, now in its eighth year, recognizes and celebrates work that documents, preserves, or reuses Modernist architecture in the United States.

The book presents 50 Modernist houses in the greater Chicago area including examples by Frank Lloyd Wright, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Stanley Tigerman, John Moutoussamy, A. James Speyer, Edmond Zisook, and John Vinci, several of whom were Illinois Tech graduates. The book’s detailed histories include information about the clients in order to show how modern social aspirations transformed the residential realm. Modern in the MIddle also examines how Chicago’s modern homes played a role in the development of the single-family home across the U.S., while helping to establish a unique Midwestern Modern design language.

“The histories of Chicago’s built environment that focus on the accomplishments of only a handful of architects inevitably overlook the vital contribution made by a host of architects, and their clients, in shaping the city’s distinctive residential architecture,” says Sabatino.

The jury, chaired by Marcel Quimby, principal of Quimby Preservation Studio, bestowed Modern in the Middle with an Award of Excellence, citing the variety of subjects within the publication and calling it “a dynamic and engaging book that is a useful resource for the public.”

“The brilliant thing about Modern in the Middle is that it focuses not just on the architects and their buildings, it also focuses on the clients, the real-life women and men who took a chance and commissioned these buildings,” says Pauline Saliga, executive director of the Society of Architectural Historians and the author of the book’s foreword. “Because of that more personal focus, the public can better relate to these remarkable homes, and better understand how cutting edge these designs were. These were the teams—clients and architects—who helped shape the Midwest’s own unique brand of Modern residential architecture.”

Learn more about the book and the Modernist homes of Chicago from our original story.