Buyers will rehab modernist architect Ed Dart’s Barrington Hills house – Crain’s Chicago Business

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A concrete, glass and steel house built in the 1950s by an architect who would become one of Chicago’s most noted church designers will get a complete rehab, instead of being torn down as other works of his have been. 

“We want it stay the glorious living space it was meant to be,” Ann Oleinik said of the four-bedroom Barrington Hills house designed by Edward Dart. She and her husband, Kamran Foruhar, bought it July 2 for $550,000. “There have been a lot of Dart’s houses torn down,” Foruhar said. (See more photos below.)

The house has rough stone exterior walls that also show up in some interior rooms, a long dining room between two walls of glass, a gracefully curved staircase complemented by curving built-in furniture at its base, and original walnut cabinetry, a hallmark of midcentury design, in the kitchen and bedrooms. 

Dart was about 32 when he built the main part of the house on Oak Knoll Road for himself and his wife, Wilhelmina. He added to it a few years later. In his career, Dart designed dozens of houses and 26 modern churches from Barrington to Gary, Ind., and led the architectural design of Water Tower Place. He died in 1975.

In about 1964, the Darts sold the house to Esther and John Palumbo. John died in the 1990s and Esther in 2020. Earlier this year, their estate listed the house for sale with Todd Gagliano, a Re/Max of Barrington agent, who handled it as a private listing. 

That was in part because some potential buyers would have wanted to tear it down and build new on the hilly five-acre site with a pond, said the Palumbos’ son, also named John, who lives in another Dart house next door. 

“It was our intent that the house would stay intact,” Paulmbo said.

The Oak Knoll house has a distinguished history: it was featured in Architectural Record in 1960, and Dart’s drawings of it are in the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago. 

Oleinik and Foruhar said they were not necessarily looking for a modernist house when they went shopping for a rehab project with their agent, Laura Kerstein of Baird & Warner, but that this one appealed to them with its flat roof, clean lines and history. 

While respecting the home’s original look and layout, the buyers said, they will update the utilities and kitchen and may later expand the house. “We’re not designing a museum here,” Oleinik said. “It’s a home,” and may need some changes.

Dart designed the house with relatively low ceilings, Foruhar said, possibly “because he was directing your line of sight to the outdoors.” Dart also relied largely on natural light coming down from skylights to show off the curve of the staircase. It’s sufficient on bright days, Olienik said, but new lighting might boost it. 

Oleinik, a photographer, and Foruhar, an architect, live in the city now. They declined to say what they expect to spend on the rehab but said the major work will be done by the end of 2021.