For Sale: A Perfect Modernist Glass House in Olympia Fields
The award-winning home, designed by architect H.P. Davis Rockwell as his family residence, is timeless and also very 1960s.
Published July 11, 2018, at 2:35 p.m.
Text by AJ LaTrace
When Claudine Lostao and husband Giorgio stumbled upon the listing for the prominent glass house at 20841 Oak Lane Drive in south suburban Olympia Fields in the summer of 2015, the pair immediately knew that they wanted it to become their next home. “We made our offer sight-unseen,” says Lostao of the experience. “We hadn’t even moved to Chicago yet, but I didn’t need to see the house to know.” Everything worked out and the Lostaos relocated from Toronto to one of the Chicago area’s finest examples of residential midcentury modernism.
The 3,600-square-foot glass and concrete house was designed by architect H. P. Davis “Deever” Rockwell in the mid-1960s as his personal family residence, says listing agent Joe Kunkel. But what makes this home particularly special is its condition and the fact that it’s not a house museum, Kunkel adds.
“There are very few glass houses to begin with, and many of the other famous ones are museums. This one is obviously similar to the others but it is more livable because you have the lower level with family spaces.”
Rockwell, who was well connected in Chicago’s architecture community at the time, was friends with noted preservationist and photographer Richard Nickel. According to Kunkel, Nickel visited the construction site to photograph the under-construction home. Adding to the home’s architectural pedigree, the modernist design earned Rockwell honors from the Chicago chapter of the American Institute of Architects in 1965, Kunkel indicates.
Don’t be fooled by the house’s low-slung appearance as there are two levels of living space, complete with four bedrooms and three full bathrooms. The main level features a prominent main living room space while most of the bedrooms are located below grade. While the property originally included an outdoor swimming pool, Kunkel says that the previous owners removed it and added new landscaping instead. However, the home’s original two-car garage is included.
While the dramatic glass walls are the most prominent feature of the home’s design, what makes the house truly special is its integration into the natural surroundings and how the changing seasons are reflected, Lostao says.
“I worked in downtown Chicago, so coming home felt like coming home to a different world. Sometimes I just sit on that large sofa and feel like I’m living in a dream. As the season changes, so does the feeling of the house.”
Records show that the Lostaos paid $605,000 in February 2016. The couple refinished much of the original teak finishes, opting for a darker charcoal stain for the center core and detached garage. The property reentered the market on Tuesday with a $749,000 asking price.
Lostao says that her family is relocating the to Washington, DC area due to a job change, but adds that they will miss the modernist glass house. “We’ve been looking for homes in the area and I keep showing real estate agents what we’re coming from,” Lostao says. “We aren’t finding anything close to what we have in Chicago.”