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90 Years In the past: The Home of Tomorrow

In 1933, the nation’s actual property professionals eagerly anticipated their annual conference in Chicago.

After a number of sedate, unadventurous conferences targeted on surviving the Melancholy economic system, the 1933 assembly promised to be particular:  The Century of Progress Worldwide Exhibition, higher generally known as the Chicago World’s Honest, occurred to be going down on the similar time. “Come to the REALTORS®’ finest conference,” learn promotional materials mailed to every member. “Come to the World’s Honest!”

Drawing of the circular, glass-and-steel House of Tomorrow with a small airplane parked next to the house and a family standing

© Courtesy of Indiana Landmarks Assortment of Steven R. Shook

The Home of Tomorrow was proven in a brochure selling NAR’s 1933 annual conference.

A day was put aside within the conference schedule to permit attendees to discover the honest. Of specific curiosity to the conference attendees was the honest’s Residence and Industrial Arts part, which featured 11 mannequin homes showcasing the newest constructing strategies and applied sciences. “Full-size homes, utterly completed and outfitted, have been erected within the Housing Division on the World’s Honest,” declared one other promotional mailing. “REALTORS® shall be excited by learning these displays as a result of they current the most recent architectural tendencies and present many new supplies, processes, and innovations.”

Earlier this yr, the Elmhurst Artwork Museum in Elmhurst, In poor health., supplied an opportunity to revisit one of many 11 homes featured on the 1933 World’s Honest, the groundbreaking Home of Tomorrow. “Homes of Tomorrow: Photo voltaic Properties from Keck to Immediately” instructed the story of how the Home of Tomorrow’s use of passive photo voltaic vitality and different modern options launched the exponential curiosity in sustainable energy-efficient properties that we’re experiencing right this moment.

The Home of Tomorrow was designed by Chicago architect George Fred Keck, a recent of Mies van der Rohe and Philip Johnson.  His twelve-sided home was simply essentially the most experimental of the Century of Progress properties and is acknowledged as being the primary glass home in-built the US, previous these designed by Johnson and van der Rohe by greater than 15 years. 

Irvin Blietz, a REALTOR® from Chicago and one of many organizers of the Residence and Industrial Arts exhibit on the World’s Honest, gave a full description of the home in his presentation in the course of the 1933 REALTORS® Conference:

“The Home of Tomorrow is placing in design. It has a metal body with a spherical metal tower as its middle structural help. All of the utilities of the home are carried on this spherical tower. The principle staircase of the home winds round this tower. The home is fully enclosed in plate glass. Venetian blinds with a coating of aluminum are used for a twin function – first, so that folks in glass homes can take a shower, and second, as a deflector of warmth and chilly. It has been found that aluminum, due to its deflecting energy, is a splendid insulator. Aluminum foil no thicker than paper is used as an insulator between the roof and the coiling. Wooden floors are in place however should not nailed to the subfloor—as a substitute, they’re held in place by a grooved and locking gadget. […] The architect claims the homes we’ll stay in tomorrow must have hangars and planes, so this home has a hangar and airplane. Air-con is a part of this home.”

Along with its credentials as the primary glass home and the primary to make use of passive photo voltaic vitality, the Elmhurst Artwork Museum exhibit listed a number of different design improvements and options that made their debut within the Home of Tomorrow. They embody:

  • An open floorplan
  • An electrical storage door opener (an invention that wouldn’t change into extensively accessible till after World Conflict II)
  • The primary Normal Electrical dishwasher and a brand new “iceless” fridge
  • An “electrical eye” that projected pictures from the house’s exterior onto a display inside (a precursor to right this moment’s sensible doorbells)
  • The primary home use of movement sensors to mechanically open and shut the kitchen door

The Home of Tomorrow, as Blietz defined in his presentation, was supposed to be a laboratory of kinds, constructed to point out honest guests a uniquely totally different form of house with facilities that they could encounter someday sooner or later. Different properties within the exhibit had been extra sensible and more cost effective, highlighting new applied sciences that would probably revolutionize homebuilding straight away. Metal-frame building strategies and manufactured stone exteriors caught the eye of the actual property professionals, together with the newest kitchen design tendencies that they might cross alongside to their shoppers again house.

After seeing how folks interacted with and reacted to the Home of Tomorrow, George Keck and his brother William continued to develop the concepts that went into its visionary design, based on the Elmhurst Artwork Museum exhibition. Quite than specializing in all-glass constructions as a design ingredient like different architects, the Keck brothers expanded on the engineering potential of glass, pioneering methods that will higher permit for passive photo voltaic warmth to maintain a construction heat or cool it as situations required. They went on to design and construct lots of of homes all through the Midwest, together with a collection of prefabricated photo voltaic properties, that are nonetheless a lot desired by consumers for his or her massive window partitions and energy-saving options.

After the World’s Honest closed in 1934, the Home of Tomorrow was bought to a personal proprietor and relocated to land that’s now a part of the Indiana Dunes Nationwide Park. It’s presently owned by the Nationwide Park Service and is awaiting a restoration plan.

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