Original Project Team


Architects:     John Black Lee A.I.A + Harrison DeSilver A.I.A

Year:               1961

Builder:          Ernest R. Rau

Awards:         'Homes for Better Living' Award 1964    

                        Read more about the Award here      


What these houses didn’t feature was also telling. The work was restrained, authentic, and there wasn’t an inch of space wasted for effect.
— Alan Goldberg

The System House

John Black Lee + Harrison DeSilver designed the house to demonstrate that good design and construction could be built without compromise. 

They achieved this objective by developing a six foot by six foot modular system. The exterior panels were prefabricated and consisted of a solid six foot wall panel and a six foot glass wall panel.




Passive shelter is provided to the ground level areas by the overhang on all four sides of the house. The roof of the house extends well beyond the footprint of the house and provides shelter from the summer sun to the second- floor balconies and the floor-to-ceiling windows. The outer edge of the roof is supported on thin piers that anchor DeSilver House to the bucolic landscape.


A Bi-Level Plan

DeSilver House was sited at a lower grade than the main driveway. A wide floating wood bridge leads to the front door. 

The main entrance opens onto a stairway that leads upstairs to the bedrooms and downstairs to the main living room and kitchen. The stair channels & connectors were manufactured by the Unistrut Products Co; Chicago, IL. The original Unistrut system remains in place. The stairway also leads down to a third level with  a study, children's play room and basement.