Why This Award-Winning Chicago Architect Values Collabs In Design


Black-and-white portrait of architect Stuart Cohen

As the recipient of the American Institute of Architects Chicago chapter’s 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award, it’s safe to say Stuart Cohen knows a thing or two about architecture. Not only has his work as a principal at Cohen & Hacker Architects been recognized worldwide, but he has also published four books on Chicago architecture, the latest of which, Frank L. Wright and the Architects of Steinway Hall: A Study in Collaboration, looks at the influence architects Frank L. Wright, Robert C. Spencer Jr., Dwight H. Perkins and Myron Hunt had on each other.

How does collaboration push artistic progress forward? The creative process builds upon what we know, extending and transforming it. Collaborators share and build upon one another’s ideas. Think about Braque and Picasso painting side by side and inventing Cubism together.

What did the chance to design residences mean to Wright, Spencer, Perkins and Hunt? How we live in our houses is understood at any point in time as a social norm. At times of social change, in this case the rise of an American middle class, the house can become a laboratory for new forms of architecture that reflect those changes.

Why is residential architecture significant? Brilliant residential architecture responds to the needs of those it is designed for as well as its site and can improve the sense of well-being.

Exterior of shingle-style home