Robert Hausner attended Universiy of Illinois, interrupting his education during the war to join the U.S. Air Force. Upon his return, he completed his architectural degree and started his career at Shaw, Metz and Dolio. Their top client, Mack and Shear of Lake Shore Management, developed much of the controversial (because they were built on the east side of the road and blocked view of the lake) “Miami beach style” post-war high-rises on North Lake Shore Drive in Chicago. He then worked for a short time Design Associates, a firm that remodeled hotels and restaurants (known for “modernizing” the interior of the Palmer House which has since been restored) where he met John Macsai, with whom he formed a partnership and practiced from 1955 – 1970. They worked with Lake Shore Management to design many of the better highrises including 1150 and 1240 Lake Shore Drive.
Their most well-known building is Harbor House, 3200 Lake Shore Drive,1968, which has withstood the test of time and is much appreciated today. The innovative design for the structure contains no central corridors. Instead, apartments are accessed from 3 separate elevator banks, allowing 150 of the 278 apartments to have floor plans extending through the building with views to both the lake and pool sides. A total of 228 apartments have lake views. Hausner and Macsai designed 1400 N. State Parkway, a notable 1960’s Gold Coast high rise with unusual concrete “footbridge” entry to the lobby. Other apartment buildings they designed include 1680 Sheridan Rd. (1961) and 1500 Sheridan Rd. (1969) opposite Plaza del Lago in Wilmette.
The firm designed some residences as well; exactly how many is unknown. In 1954, Hausner started building his own home, featured here, on a beautiful property on the Des Plaines River in Riverwoods, Illinois. He designed and built the home by his own hand, including splitting the stone for the walls. He retired from architecture in 1980 due to his success in investing family money in real estate.
A piece of architectural trivia: the back patio of his home is made out of the carrera marble that was stripped off of the Standard Oil Building (now Aon Center, designed by Edward Durrel Stone and Perkins and Will in 1973) in the late 1980s, which had to be removed due to failure in the adhesive. Many will remember the Easter Sunday that the marble started to fall off the building onto cars driving below. He lived in the home until 1989, when he moved to Colorado.
Note: we thank architect and Chicago Bauhaus and Beyond member Don Wrobleski for the above information. Don worked for Hausner and Macsai from 1968-1970.