Edward Dart, known as Ned by those close to him, graduated from Yale School of Architecture, where Richard M. Bennett was chairman of the Department of Architecture as well as a professor of design. Dart studied there under Pietro Belluschi, Marcel Breuer, Harwell Hamilton Harris, Richard Neutra, Louis Kahn, Eero Saarinen, Harold Spitznagel, Edward Durell Stone, and Paul Schweikher. Frank Lloyd Wright had a large impact on Dart; Schweikher and Bennett also figured prominently in his career. Dart worked for Schweikher for a time after graduation, then started his own independent firm, during which time he designed the house featured here. Later he joined the large firm of Loebl, Schlossman, Bennett, and Dart, where all but four of his 45 projects were completed. The key figures in that firm, Jerry Loebl (1897-1978), Norm Schlossman (1901-1990), and Richard Bennett (1907-1996), were responsible for the development of Park Forest, one of the first planned post-WWII GI communities. Park Forest came to be recognized as the prototype for new town developments and suburban shopping centers all over the world.
Soon after designing the featured house at http://www.jetsetmodern.com/dart.htm in 1956, Dart built a house for himself in very similar style and materials, which was published in House & Garden in August 1959 and Architectural Record in November 1960.
Dart was listed in Who’s Who in America, and won 18 awards from the American Institute of Architects (AIA), including two (a Distinguished Building Award in 1971 and a National Honor Award in 1973) for his design of St. Procopius Abbey in Lisle, Illinois. He was made a Fellow of the AIA, the highest honors that the organization can bestow, at the age of 44. He built 52 custom houses from from 1949 to 1968, 26 custom churches, several builders’ spec house designs, and commercial buildings. The Art Institute of Chicago recently offered a guided tour of several his churches, called Sublime Sanctuaries: The Churches of Edward Dart. The Art Institute also has Dart’s archives and drawings in their permanent collection.
Dart designed the “House of the Fifties” for Good Housekeeping magazine, a model house for Popular Mechanics, and won the National Association of Homebuilders competition in 1951. In all, he completed over 100 projects before his unexpected death at the age of 53, while working on Water Tower Place in Chicago, one of his largest projects. Water Tower Place was finished in spite of its then-controversial style and size, and went on to become one of Chicago’s landmark buildings and one of the most-loved and most successful mixed-use retail, business, and residential centers. Because of his early death, the world would never get to see more of the humanistic architecture Dart would surely have gone on to design. Had he lived, he would likely have continued his career in the independent fashion he preferred, designing without the politics of big business and commercially-driven decisions of real estate developers which largely drive architecture today.