Track 2: Materials over Time: Points of Change

General Abstract

Rehabilitation of George Fred Keck's House of Tomorrow from the 1933 World's Fair: Century of Progress

Monday, September 24
10:30 AM - 12:00 PM
Location: BNCC- 101BG

During the 1933 World’s Fair Century of Progress, the Home and Industrial Arts Group included eleven homes to showcase advances in modern materials, interior design and architecture. They were small homes that maximized sunlight and expanded living space to terraces and rooftops. The dodecagon (12-sided) House of Tomorrow was made of steel and glass that caught the eyes of many curious and eager attendees, due to its futuristic concept, that in the future, modern families would travel mostly by air. Sporting a hangar for the family plane, the House of was erected around a central perforated steel mast that was also served as a structural element. The mast cleverly housed plumbing, A/C pipes, gas, etc., to distribute systems throughout the house. An electric dishwasher, glass curtain wall and central air condition, noted as the first ever in a home, contributed to other the modern conveniences.
Designed by George Fred Keck, it was his vision of what modern domestic life could be in the future. Eight-five years later, the technology, materials and design that were showcased then, are common elements in today’s homes. At the conclusion of the Fair, five homes were shipped across Lake Michigan to what is now, Beverly Shores at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Despite recognition by The New York Times as an “indisputable architectural masterpiece,” the House of Tomorrow has sat vacant since 1999.

This session will present the 1933 World’s Fair impact on building technologies, materials, products, furniture and equipment. It will also provide an update for the ongoing rehabilitation and some of the technical and philosophical challenges that we found during design. These challenges included installing a similar curtain wall system that appears as it did 85 years ago, while providing thermal performance and properties of today’s glazing systems. Methods of restoring or replacing modern materials that were only used once or no longer available needed to be determined. The original central air conditioning as noted to be the first ever installed in a home is significant to the House’s history, therefore selection of these new systems were crucial.

An innovative agreement exists between Indiana Landmarks and the National Park Service that is in part funding the rehabilitation. This will be discussed in the session.

Our rehabilitation plan of the House is to create a NEW House of Tomorrow that reflects the original design intent and future ideas utilizing sustainable and innovated systems for a financially viable model that can possibly be used on other similar modern structures. The team wants to make the House of Tomorrow a habitable and accessible home, while preserving the innovative spirit of Architect George Fred Keck.

Learning Objectives:

Edward Torrez, AIA LEED AP

Bauer Latoza Studio

Edward Torrez, AIA, LEED, AP, is an architect and principal at Bauer Latoza Studio Ltd. in Chicago, Illinois. Mr. Torrez has been specializing in Historic Preservation, Adaptive Reuse, Rehabilitation, Interior Renovation and Urban Planning projects in Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Texas for over 25 years.

Mr. Torrez was appointed to serve on the Commission on Chicago Landmarks and currently serves as Advisor for the National Trust of Historic Preservation, member of the Illinois Historical Sites Advisory Council (IHSAC), member of the Executive Board of Latinos in Heritage Conservation (LHC), Landmark Illinois’ Reinvestment Committee and Board Member of the Ray Bradbury Carnegie Center.

Edward has lectured extensively on preservation related topics for a number of national and local conference and organizations including AIA National Convention, Association for Preservation Technology, National Trust for Historic Preservation, Landmarks Illinois, American Planners Association and the American Society of Landscape Architects.


Send Email for Edward Torrez

Chris Gembinski

Building Conservation Associates, Inc.


Chris is the Director of Technical Services for Building Conservation Associates, Inc., providing quality control and technical oversight for all BCA projects. Through his investigative work on hundreds of historic properties, he has developed extensive expertise in historic construction techniques and building systems, architectural materials, preservation design solutions, and construction management. Various aspects of his research and design have included masonry restoration, plaster restoration, historic finishes analysis, wood and metal window restoration design and stained-glass restoration. His work includes the design and management of conservation and preservation construction for: The Metropolitan Life Insurance Building, Grand Central Terminal, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the Central Park Police Precinct, the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, and Trinity Chrch, Wall Street, as well as development ventures such as the Victoria Theater and Moynihan Station Redevelopments.


Send Email for Chris Gembinski

Lorraine Schnabel

Schnabel Conservation LLC

Lorraine Schnabel is the principal and owner of Schnabel Conservation LLC, a full service materials conservation consulting firm. We work with preservation project teams to diagnose whole building and individual material deterioration problems and identify workable, practical, durable solutions. After nearly thirty years in practice as both a private conservator and as a project manager at John Milner Associates and 1:1:6 Technologies, Lorraine has developed experience with most types of building materials and historic construction systems. Her principle areas of expertise are masonry and materials analysis. She has applied her skills in the preservation of a broad range of building ages and types, from small historic houses to the Baltimore Washington Monument. Currently, she is co-chair of the APT Technical Committee for Materials, and she has served on the board of the Delaware Valley chapter of APT as well. She is a Fellow of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic works, and served in leadership roles in the Architecture Specialty Group and Conservators in Private Practice of that organization. She teaches Building Conservation to students in the College of Architecture and the Built Environment at Jefferson (formerly Philadelphia) University. Lorraine holds a BA in Geology from Pomona College and an MSc. in Historic Preservation from Columbia University.


Send Email for Lorraine Schnabel


Rehabilitation of George Fred Keck's House of Tomorrow from the 1933 World's Fair: Century of Progress

Attendees who have favorited this

Please enter your access key

The asset you are trying to access is locked. Please enter your access key to unlock.

Send Email for Rehabilitation of George Fred Keck's House of Tomorrow from the 1933 World's Fair: Century of Progress