I recently picked-up a copy of the July 1911 Cement World magazine (self-anointed "World's Greatest Cement Publication") and discovered an interesting article about the winning concrete bungalow designs chosen for Mrs. Lucile Bishop of Chicago, IL.
Mrs. Bishop apparently won a bungalow from the Cement Products Exhibition Company at the Fourth Annual Chicago Cement Show held in February 1911. What's interesting is that there was a three-way tie for the winning design, one of which was by an under-appreciated Prairie architect. Find out more after the jump...
The architects' designs that were chosen to share the prize of $100 each were all deemed of equal merit, but in my opinion, the one by Chicago architect Harry F. Robinson was more progressive in its design:
Harry Franklin Robinson is a fairly obscure Prairie School architect who worked for Frank Lloyd Wright from 1906-1908, then left to work for Walter Burley Griffin from 1908-1911 (suspiciously close to this competition...) and was the only architect from Wright's Oak Park Prairie era to return to Wright's employ from 1911-1913.
Robinson then went on to design several other buildings in and around the suburbs of Chicago in his career, but faded into relative obscurity after his death in 1959.
This little cement bungalow shows the influences of his two Prairie School employers, Frank Lloyd Wright and Walter Burley Griffin, as part of its DNA. When looking at it, I see shades of a few Wright-designs, including the unbuilt "Atelier for Richard Bock" :
and of course, that greatest of all Prairie School concrete designs, Unity Temple:
Ironically, Robinson is said to have been the draughtsman on the original drawings for the Richard Bock atelier, so perhaps he already had plenty of practice drawing little flat-topped concrete bungalows.
Sadly, it seems unlikely that Mrs. Bishop's progressive bungalow was actually built, but who knows...perhaps it is just waiting to be discovered out there!
Much of Robinson's original drawings and papers have now been lost (as detailed in the only written biography on the architect by his grandson, James A. Robinson). Hopefully a more detailed account and list of his life and works will be put together for those of us interested in the wider scope of the Prairie School.
Cement World Magazine scans via the PrairieMod Archive
Wasmuth Portfolio images via http://content.lib.utah.edu