Recent Past Survey

28 May

St. Paul Lutheran Church (built 1957), 1025 W. Lake Street, Melrose Park, Illinois (Photo by Chris Ciesielski)

For a while now, I’ve been wanting to post a few images from Charlie Pipal’s Fall 2010 Preservation Planning class at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) in which I was lucky to participate.  Our goal was to scour some of Cook County’s outlying suburbs for their best surviving Modernist and recent past architecture.  Unsurprisingly, we found plenty of interesting institutional architecture — schools, city halls, post offices, and park facilities — and some fantastic examples of forward-thinking mid-century religious architecture.   We also found a decent amount of Modern cemetery architecture worth documenting.

This year’s graduate student surveyors included the best and the brightest of SAIC’s Historic Preservation Program: Jessica Blemker-Ferree, Emily Bailey Burns, Christopher Ciesielski, Jonathan Esslinger, Samantha Hudson, LaLuce Mitchell, Lisa Napoles, Rachael Oginni, Susan Parks, Rachel Parris, Sylwia Rusin, Matthew Seymour, Jill Tuinier, and yours truly, John D. Cramer.  I’ve included images of three dynamic projects documented by our class.

Triton College (1960s), 2000 N. Fifth Avenue, River Grove, Illinois (Photo by Jonathan Esslinger)

Charlie’s planning and recent past survey class is a continuation of a multi-year partnership between SAIC and Landmarks Illinois, a preservation nonprofit dedicating to advocating on behalf of historic structures across the state.  Landmarks Illinois’ in-progress Suburban Chicago Recent Past Survey represents a strong push toward finally recognizing architecture of the mid- to late-twentieth century as significant, or at the very least worth considering when talking about significance.   At this very moment, Landmarks Illinois is amplifying its call for the protection of our recent past architectural treasures:  the organization has been a major proponent for the landmarking and sensitive reuse of Old Prentice Hospital, Bertrand Goldberg’s outstanding women’s health facility completed in 1974 in Chicago’s now hospital-heavy Streeterville District.

For more information and to see some of Suburban Cook County’s best twentieth-century architecture, visit Landmarks Illinois’ Recent Past Survey website at

Ruby Cleaners (1960s), 3020 Des Plaines Avenue, North Riverside, Illinois (Photo by Jill Tuinier)

I discussed this survey in a recent post I wrote for the Recent Past Preservation Network (RPPN).   RPPN is a great organization and with such a noble mission so we at SAIC were thrilled to get a mention on their site.  They’ll soon be posting on their website some of the images from Suburban Chicago Recent Past Survey – so stay tuned.

I’ll be posting more of our class’s great images in future posts!


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