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Epidemiology of Chicago School Architecture

Biologist Dr. Richard Condit revisits buildings analyzed in his father Carl W. Condit’s book The Chicago School of Architecture (1964). Finding many gone, he posed the question: What proportion are still standing? As a population biologist by training, he turns this experiment into a demographic analysis, calculating the ‘lifespan’ of buildings born in different decades. Population biologists often study rare species threatened by human development, searching for ways to preserve their populations. Condit reviews the preservation of buildings, wondering which are “greenest” and how the loss of great architecture can be balanced against other concerns. During this lecture, Condit will present the fate of all the buildings, focusing on those his father wrote the most about, and will explain which decades, and which styles, have survived the longest.

Richard Condit, PhD, is a biologist with broad research interests on populations and communities, in both marine and forest ecosystems. He studied at the University of Illinois, received a PhD from the University of California, Santa Cruz, then held positions as a research scientist at UMass-Amherst, Princeton, and for 25 years at the Smithsonian Institution in Panama. He has published 200 scientific articles, mostly on forest trees and marine mammals, and wrote a book on the Trees of Panama and Costa Rica. After retiring from the Smithsonian, Condit developed a research interest in Chicago architecture, tracking buildings documented in his father’s books (C.W. Condit, Chicago School of Architecture and two volumes on Chicago Building) and applying demographic tools to their fate. He lectures often on tropical forests, seals, as well as Chicago buildings.

Suzanne Germann, Director of Reinvestment, Landmarks Illinois will discuss how preservation advocates value historic buildings, specifically how they make decisions about what is worth preserving and advocating for.

Suzanne has been with Landmarks Illinois since 2004, first as the Director of Grants & Easements before becoming the Director of Reinvestment in 2021. She is responsible for managing Landmarks Illinois’ grant programs, preservation easement program, and the reinvestment program. In addition, Suzanne supervises the Illinois Restoration Resources Directory. She was previously a preservation planner for the City of Lake Forest, Illinois, and a historian for a local architectural firm. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Art History and Photography from the State University of New York at New Paltz and a Master of Science in Historic Preservation from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Douglas Gilbert architect and architectural historian will serve as moderator. While he has worked on buildings of all styles and types, Douglas has specific expertise and experience in the architecture of the Prairie and Chicago Schools and mid-20th century Modernism. Since 2017 he has taught architectural history at Triton College.

General admission is $20, students are $10. All lectures are FREE for UTRF members, use code MEMBERFREE when registering. No advanced assigned seating for this event.

The lecture will be recorded and available for viewing after the event for $10 (UTRF members will automatically receive a complimentary link to the recorded version).

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