Paul Schweikher was born in Denver in 1903 and began his architectural training at the University of Colorado in 1921. After moving to Chicago in 1922, he enrolled in architecture and design classes at the The Art Institute of Chicago and then the Armour Institute of Technology. While studying in Chicago, he also worked with David Adler. His bachelor’s degree was completed at the Yale School of Architecture in 1929. Schweikher returned to Chicago in 1930 and began working for several local architects, including George Fred Keck and Philip Maher. His early reputation as an avant-garde architect was bolstered by his inclusion in the 1933 landmark exhibition on modern architecture at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. In 1934, he became principal and senior partner in the firm of Lamb and Elting, renamed Schweikher and Elting in 1946. He left that partnership in 1953 to become chairman of the School of Architecture at Yale University, and also established a private practice of residential architecture. In 1958, Schweikher resigned his position at Yale to serve as head of the Deparment of Architecture at Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie-Mellon), retiring from that position in 1970. He subsquently moved to Arizona and opened a small private practice there. Schweikher died in Phoenix in 1997.
Schweikher did solar studies with George Fred Keck and contributed to the 1933 Century of Progress Exhibition. He was heavily influenced by Japanese architecture; his home and studio in Roselle, Illinois was designed on the boat on the way home from a trip to Japan. His home, Built in 1937-38 and still totally original, was featured recently on a Chicago Bauhaus and Beyond tour.
“Japanese architecture influenced my work probably in too many ways to list but certainly, first of all, in the relationship of the house or home to the out of doors and to the land: a casual, easy refinement of indoor living with very little loss of the advantages of sunlight, winds, breezes, growing things. In fact [it is] a kind of continuation of the gentler part of outdoors into a semi-enclosed interior that could easily become like the out-of-doors, [done] through the use of the sliding shoji screens, the matted [tatami] floors, the large expanses of light in the use of rice paper, the lightness of construction, the refinement of detail, and the close relationship of that detail to the use of the house…. I was a little fearful, as a Westerner, of the durability of the material–paper and wood–as opposed to glass and steel, so I was timid. I always have been. I would like that opportunity to express myself as the Japanese could, given another chance.”