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The Midcentury Mood

"Despite his significant contributions to the Chicago skyline and groundbreaking early hotel design for the Las Vegas Strip, Milton Schwartz remains an under-recognized figure from an important period in American architecture," the Art Institute of Chicago says.

"The son of an engineer, Schwartz studied at the University of Illinois, where he was inspired to become an architect by the lectures of Frank Lloyd Wright.

"After a few years in the construction industry during World War II, Schwartz founded his own Chicago architectural practice and soon completed his first project, a visionary co-op building, 320 Oakdale, where he combined passive solar technology with a dynamic aesthetic of glass, aluminum, and modern brise-soleil.

"Schwartz went on to specialize in high-rise apartment buildings and designs for leisure and hospitality, most notably his iconic tower and restaurants for the Dunes Hotel in Las Vegas."

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exh_milton-schwartz_360.jpg

320 Oakdale, 1953-54.

"Schwartz owned the penthouse there until his death in 2007," according to Lee Bey.

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"Schwartz's award-winning hotels and motels reflect the image and attitude of the automobile and jet age. For his work in Las Vegas, he paired a modern vocabulary of forms and materials with fantastic new environments integrating water, color, lighting, and scenography.

"Among the first large resorts in postwar Las Vegas, the Dunes Hotel became a symbol of midcentury decadence in the United States in popular culture as well as for the iconoclastic architectural theory of the postmodern era."

[See image here.]

"The architect of the 'Diamond' tower did not like the sign," according to Classic Las Vegas.

"Milton Schwartz, of Chicago, objected to the size, shape and placement of the size in relationship to his tower. He had designed a spire sign that tied in with the new porte cochere. Major Riddle however, wanted a sign that could be seen for miles and was in keeping with the neon fantasy land that the Strip was becoming. Schwartz fought but Riddle prevailed."

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The restaurant was another matter.

"The Dome of the Sea, constructed in 1964, protruded emphatically from the south end of architect Milton M. Schwartz's 21-story ultra-Modern north tower that rose from the desert in 1961," according to Peter Moruzzi.

"Schwartz was especially proud of the building, saying of the restaurant's unusual form in a 2005 interview, 'The Dome of the Sea was something I had always wanted to design. It was a circular building and it looked like it came from outer space. It just felt like it fit on the desert to me.'"

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Saturday, March 21, 2015-Sunday, July 5, 2015, Gallery 24

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Comments welcome.



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Posted on May 11, 2015


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