A Chicago landmark of design, a benchmark
Construction on the Emil Bach House began as Frank Lloyd Wright’s famous Midway Gardens project was completed in 1914, and before he left for Japan in 1916 to oversee construction of the Imperial Hotel. While the home incorporates elements familiar to Wright Prairie-style homes, the Bach House also points to future stylistic directions Wright’s work would take, including the home’s contained geometry, efficient scale and modern window designs.
The residence was built in 1915 for Emil Bach, president of Chicago’s Bach Brick Co. The house stands near the shores of Lake Michigan on Chicago’s North Side. While many of Wright’s Prairie houses are situated on wide suburban lots, the Emil Bach House stands on a small city lot along a busy urban thoroughfare. The plan of the house is compact.
In contrast to the expansive, open Prairie houses Wright designed just years earlier, the Bach House is strongly centered and self-contained. A flat roof with cantilevered projections shelters the residence and shades the small balconies off each of the bedrooms, which themselves add to the “outside inside” theme of the house. The main entrance to the house is at the east side, away from the busy road on which the house sits, and obscured from public view (a doorway on the home’s north side, interestingly, leads nowhere). An open porch spans the back of the house and creates a dramatic horizontal projection toward Lake Michigan, originally clearly in view but now impaired by subsequently constructed residential towers.
The Emil Bach House was designated a Chicago Landmark in 1977 and placed on the U.S. Register of Historic Places in 1979. In 2013, the building was meticulously restored to its original appearance following a two-year renovation. On May 1, 2014, it began its new life as a vacation getaway and event rental space.