An Independent Documentary
David Adler Great House Architect
background image: East elevation drawing of the residence of David and Katherine Adler, Libertyville, IL courtesy of Amy Williams, Executive Director, the Adler Music and Arts Center.
in Post Production
This documentary, in high definition footage,
shines a spotlight on David Adler’s immense design talent.
"Considered one of America's
premier 'great house' architects,
David Adler (1882-1949) left behind
a legacy of grandeur and elegance
that has never been equaled.”
The Country Houses of David Adler, by Stephen Salny, 2001.
David Adler. Image is courtesy of Amy Williams, Executive Director, the Adler Music and Arts Center, Libertyville, Illinois.
he's One of the greatest residential architects
of the first half of the 20th century:
1. Adler was Chicago’s “society architect” of the very wealthy, but “shunned public attention”. His clients were unsolicited. He interviewed them before taking on a project and, ultimately, chose to let his work speak for itself. Most of his designs still stand and are cherished by owners.
2. Adler didn’t have an advanced degree or an Illinois license in architecture until obtaining one later in his career, upon passing an oral exam. His work demonstrates he was exceptionally gifted. A number of his homes are on the National Register of Historic Places. He created beauty.
3. Adler had “an enormous range of stylistic expression”, “one of the last great eclectic architects.”
4. Adler was a complete architect: to ensure harmony he also masterfully planned site usage, landscaping, interior decoration and furnishings. (frequently collaborating on interiors with his sister Frances Elkins, the inventive and famed designer. She is recognized for mixing in works of European avant-garde artists Jean-Michel Frank and brothers Diego and Alberto Giacometti.)
5. Adler was friends with internationally renown, modern architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and recommended him to head the new architecture school of the Armour Institute of Technology (now IIT), but he mostly chose to work in the classical vocabulary, to create with cues from the elegance of history.
David Adler, wife Katherine, with friend and client Marshall Field III (heir to the Marshall Field department store fortune and founding publisher of the Chicago Sun Times). Image courtesy of Amy Williams, Executive Director, the Adler Music and Arts Center, Libertyville, Illinois.
Five David Adler experts were interviewed on camera, in summer and fall 2019, at four Adler designed residences, constructed during the most active time of his career 1925-1934, in the Great House Era.