Collection of Steven R. Snook

Houses of Tomorrow: Solar Homes from Keck to Today

Feb 5th–May 29th 2022

For related interviews, press segments, activities, and more visit our Museum from Home page. For educators: request a Virtual Tour to receive lesson plans, instructional videos, and free materials for solar-based STEAM activities.

To kick off our 25th Anniversary, we are excited to announce a Spring season dedicated to architecture including this exhibition and its complementary programming.

As highlighted by NBC5, FOX32, Chicago Tribune, and others (see bottom of webpage for full press), George Fred Keck designed the first glass house in America for the 1933 World’s Fair in Chicago with visionary modern designs including new domestic amenities. His groundbreaking House of Tomorrow predated steel and glass structures driven into popularity by modernists such as Mies van der Rohe by more than 15 years. Furthering efficiency issues from the House of Tomorrow, Keck and his brother William built hundreds of innovative mid-century homes throughout the Midwest as the first “solar architects.” Their development of passive solar energy and other modern construction methods now stand as early precursors to today’s sustainable building practices—which are more relevant than ever before.

The all-glass House of Tomorrow showed millions of attendees at the 1933 World’s Fair, “A Century of Progress,” a new, technology-driven vision of what domestic life could be in the future. The house featured many new ideas from the first GE dishwasher to a personal airplane hangar; however, it was through this house that the Kecks found a new way to harness solar energy, leading them to make energy efficiency breakthroughs throughout their career.

This exhibition highlights the history and application of solar energy using Keck’s design for the House of Tomorrow; provides a dedicated gallery illustrating the mid-century solar homes by the Keck brothers; features a newly commissioned artist project by Jan Tichy centered on glass and light; and ends with winning designs from a 2021 passive solar competition. A wealth of related programming includes a panel about sustainable practices, a look at restoration plans for the House of Tomorrow, an artist talk by Jan Tichy, interpretive STEAM activities for school-aged children, and more. An accompanying exhibition by Jan Tichy invites visitors to explore Mies van der Rohe’s 1952 McCormick House as an environment of movement, light, activity, and wonder.

Sponsored by the DuPage Foundation, Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, Artis, Room & Board, Chicago Bauhaus & Beyond, and Kelly Stetler | Compass.