Harry Weese (1915-1998)
Robert and Suzanne Drucker House (1952-53)
2801 Iroquois Road, Wilmette
This L-shaped two-story residence clad in cedar planks suggests a Midwest variant on the famed Case Study houses that were then being constructed in Los Angeles. (The Case Study houses – the most famous of which is the 1949 Eames House designed by Weese’s friends, Charles and Rae Eames – were sponsored by Arts & Architecture Magazine with the aim of showcasing new materials and construction methods for modern low-cost housing) The front of the house is obscured by slatted screens while the back – which is oriented to the south – has large windows. The interior is open and airy with screens and bookcases used to delineate the first floor kitchen, dining and living rooms. Over the course of his long career, Weese provided Chicago with its most sustained alternative to the overwhelming dominance of Mies van der Rohe and the International Style with eclectic buildings influenced by the Scandinavian Modernists Alvar Aalto and Eliel and Eero Saarinen as well as early Chicago architects such as Frank Lloyd Wright and Louis Sullivan.
55 E. Wacker Drive, Chicago
Perhaps Harry Weese's most recognized building in downtown Chicago, Seventeenth Church’s iconic structure was designed to maximize a six-sided site at the intersection of three major streets. The structure is comprised of seven levels, with the main auditorium situated on levels four and five. The primary entrances to the church are at grade level, which actually is level three of the structure. The Church’s auditorium is styled after the layout of a Greek amphitheater, capturing the democratic spirit of the congregation. Skylights and several levels of clerestory windows fill the auditorium with natural light, providing a peaceful oasis for prayer and worship amid the hubbub of the city. The travertine marble walls and wood podium in the auditorium are absent of traditional religious symbols, focusing attention on two sacred texts engraved into the travertine wing walls on each side of the podium. (Adapted from the Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist website)