You Don't Have to Follow Mies Religiously: John Vinci's 1975 Freeark House

Virtual Event

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Join Docomomo US/Chicago for an exclusive virtual tour of the Freeark House, designed by John Vinci and Lawrence Kenny and built 1971-1975. The Freeark House embodies a broad trend in the architectural community in Chicago in the 1970s: the pervasive influence of – and the emerging reaction against – architect Mies van der Rohe.

Designed for Dr. Robert J. Freeark, a surgeon, and Ruth Nelson Freeark, an artist, the Freeark House is located in Riverside, a nineteenth-century residential suburb laid out by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux. The house is a relatively modest building, with a modern square plan and industrial materials like glass, load-bearing brick, and a reinforced concrete floating staircase. In an unusual reversal from typical suburban houses, the main living spaces are located on the upper floor while service spaces including garage and art studio are located at ground level.

Vinci and Kenny both attended the Illinois Institute of Technology, and the Freeark House, their first residential commission, illustrates IIT’s Miesian influence. However, Vinci later reflected on his experience designing the Freeark house: “I learned that you don’t have to follow Mies religiously. My work never adheres strictly to the module. If you look at my work and if you look at the [Freeark] house, I think you’ll see that that’s the beginning of that idea.”

The virtual tour will be led by Michelangelo Sabatino, director of the Ph.D. program in architecture at IIT and co-author of the new book Modern in the Middle: Chicago Houses, 1929-1975 written with fellow Docomomo US/Chicago chapter member, Susan Benjamin. Accompanying Michelangelo during the tour will be Kim Freeark, who grew up in the house.


October 6, 2020
Starting at 6:00 pm Eastern (5:00 pm Central)
Free, advance registration required
A link to the zoom tour will be sent to registered participants prior to the tour.

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