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Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Kirsch Home, Oak Park, IL, USA

The Kirsch Home, Oak Park, IL, USA
Now this one was a bit of a challenge! Saw this a while ago on a blog somewhere; just a picture with no info of any sort but the picture looked interesting so I decided to try to track it down. It took a little while but I was successful in the end. The "Bunker" as it seems to be referred to was designed by the architect Errol J Kirsch and there is a series of images of the home on his website. Unfortunately there is no additional information on the rationale behind the design or the construction methods; just ...


1046 Fair Oaks Ave, Oak Park, IL 60302, USA

41°54'19.76"N 87°47'17.63"W

No Google Maps "Street View" Available - Not Included In Google Earth Tour

... the images. Kirsch had the 3600 square foot Oak Park home built in 1982 as his own residence.

The blog Bright Lights Dim Beauty of Chicago was one site that we found useful in our search for information on the "Bunker" and the blog links to a Flickr image that has several comments. One indicated what might have been behind the unusual and almost sci-fi design of the property. Deltasly comments:

"I can't believe it's still there and doesn't look worse for wear. I remember when it was being built. An early "green" house. Solar I believe was the original intent. I think it was built in 1979 or 1980?"

I have not yet been able to verify the "green" origins of the home but it does seem likely judging by the construction and design of the property and I have to add I was impressed with the commenter's memory to get within 2 years of the date of construction; would that my memory was as good.

Another blog, Architecture Revived also appears to support the "green" theory and suggests that:

"The masonry mass provides heat mitigation and windows are designed to pick up solar gain. The tall chimney at the top seems to be for a heat stack strategy."

No source is quoted so again we cannot verify if that was the intention of the architect but the comment does seem logical.

The real estate website Zillow lists the Kirsch house as being valued at about $735K [July 28th 2011]. Considering the last listed sale was in 1998 at $344K the home has shown a healthy increase in the last decade or so though the listed property taxes at over $20K for 2009 are a little scary. Glad I live in Texas.

During research for this article I was using Google Maps as usual; amazingly while I have been able to get "street views" of obscure buildings in a small town in New Zealand [Posted July 25th 2011 - Sheep And Dog Buildings, Tirau, New Zealand] amongst others there was no street view of the Kirsch property available; I guess the Google cars just have not got there yet. We do have a pretty good aerial view on the Google Maps tab below and on this occasion there was also an even better aerial view available on Bing Maps.

Also in the course of research one of the blogs we came across suggested the home would have been right at home in the 1976 Michael York, Jenny Agutter sci-fi movie Logan's Run. I have to agree though to be honest I wish I had never seen the comment as it sent me off at a tangent that, while it interested me, was nothing to do with the Kirsch house.

I was looking for a screenshot from the movie that specifically showcased the movies architectural style to compare with the Kirsch home and along the way I came across a comment that the movie was filmed in and around Dallas, TX and that the picture I had located contained at least one recognizable local building. Well, being that I live in Dallas identifying that building became a quest. Thankfully as always the internet came through and I was able to track the building down. The images are on the Logan's Run tab below - check it out for yourself.

The Kirsch Home, Oak Park, IL, USAClick For Image Source

The Kirsch Home, Oak Park, IL, USA - Alt 1

The Kirsch Home, Oak Park, IL, USA - Alt 2

The Kirsch Home, Oak Park, IL, USA - Alt 3

The Kirsch Home, Oak Park, IL, USA - Alt 4

Click For Image Source
This image illustrates the architecture in the movie Logan's Run. I think you will agree that the "Bunker" would have fit right in. You might also notice the angular building towards the center right of the picture. In the movie it was the Sandman HQ Building. In real life it was at one time the Zale International Building and is now the Exxon Mobil Building. It is located at 3000 Pegasus Park Drive, Dallas, TX.

Movie Screenshot - Logans RunClick For Image Source

Exxon Mobil Building, Dallas, TXClick For Image Source

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  1. Myths and Legends of the World: Pegasus. Click www.gofastek.com for more information.


  2. I am from Oak Park and grew up a few blocks away from this home. I've always heard that it was a solar powered house. It really sticks out and is on the corner of the block. It's definitely sci-fi or bunker-like. Also reminds me of Walter Netsch brutalist style of architecture. He designed the University of Illinois at Chicago's campus. Perhaps Kirsch was a fan.

  3. I went to school at St. Giles and graduated the year after it was built so we called it the "grasshopper house" and thought it was too modern. Time flies. I recall watching the progress odor being built and wondering if it was actually finished.

  4. The style of the building given in this blog was excellent. It was really amazing, it has unique style.
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  5. Fabulous and amazing post... Thanks for this great stuff....

  6. There is now a Street View available for this address if you want to update your post.

  7. I saw it today. Wow! Needs a rehab soon.

  8. I don’t even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was good. I do not know who you are but certainly you are going to a famous blogger if you aren’t already Cheers! ブラック融資

  9. I loved the article, I found it while searching for the owners daughter, I worked with her in oakpark back in the 90's, and had the pleasure of getting a tour of this beautiful house, what I can remember is that the beds were all built into the floors, they use to offer tours of the house. ,again I enjoyed reading your article it brought back memories of yesterday years.