Can you imagine finding a lovely lot in an established and extremely desirable neighborhood, hiring an architect known for modern designs, and building your dream home? These days it’s doubtful it could be done for under a million. But in 1955, it’s what people did.
It’s become my life’s work to find these gems and research not only the houses but the designers behind them. Due in part to our research, Carl Strauss & Ray Roush, Abrom Dombar, Benjamin Dombar, Jim (James) Alexander, Rudy (Rudolph) Hermes, and Dick (Richard T.) Calef have become household names once again. But then there is the next tier, the men who designed a few homes amidst their more commercial offerings. I have to believe that now, designing homes is the job architects most enjoy and rarely (if ever) have the opportunity to do. But at Midcentury, it was part of the job.
This spotlight is on an architect that we previously didn’t know a whole lot about - John A. Burdick (19 December 1921 - 2 January 1997). He is perhaps best known as one of the founding B’s of GBBN (formerly Gartner, Burdick, Bauer-Nilsen - now a multinational architectural design firm focused on innovating the essential building blocks of our communities - housing, healthcare, education, and cultural venues). We have seen designs under the firm names Burdick & Bauer-Nilsen (1955) and Burdick and Associates (1958). We have uncovered 5 of his residential designs, one we sold a couple of years ago in Wyoming, his personal home in Mariemont, one we have on the market now in Mariemont (3753 Harvard Acres), and two in our very own neighborhood in Amberley Village. The 3 that were built in 1955 (and his own home from 1951) share a striking resemblance to each other, all featuring roofs pitched to the rear to accommodate a half or split level. The 1958 home switched to a more classic modern post and beam, flat roofed plan on slab with a courtyard and carport. All of the homes feature walls of windows to take best advantage of the sites.
My consult with architectural historian Beth Sullebarger revealed that Burdick also designed a number of churches for the archdiocese of Cincinnati. In 1958, the architectural firm of Gartner, Burdick, Bauer-Nielson, won first prize for modern church art in a national competition at Notre Dame University for the innovative design of the new church for the St. John the Evangelist Parish in West Chester. This church, which seated 450 and was considered innovative at the time, was dedicated in 1961 by the late Archbishop Karl J. Alter.
Mr. Burdick’s obituary (below) reveals more about his church and school designs, as well as teaching architecture at UC. If you have knowledge of any other Burdick houses (including, I would assume, his own house in Indian Hill), please let us know so we can add it to our database. And if you would like to experience an extremely well designed, preserved and enhanced Burdick home, please visit our open house at 3753 Harvard Acres in Mariemont, Saturday, May 21, 1:00 - 2:00.