Harold Burdick not only designed and built
this house for his own family, but also as an example of an International
Style, mass-produced home. By using modern architectural concepts and
manufactured materials, he hoped to create a prototype for a mass-produced
house for middle income living. The later years of the Depression in the
United States saw a blossoming of the International Style – the
style of Gropius and his group at the Bauhaus in Germany, and of Corbusier
in France. Built in 1938 for an estimated cost of $12,000, the Burdick
House is a very rare example of a Midwest residence designed according
to the principles of this short lived but interesting architectural mode.
The International style shows itself in the use of glass block walls
and ceiling-to-floor plate glass windows, thus proclaiming its steel frame
construction. No masonry or wood construction could do this. The second
floor deck over the garage with its slim curved railing is suggestive
of an ocean liner, as well as the esthetic Corbusier set up in his 1923
Vers Un Architecture.
Burdick used modern manufactured
materials for his construction in an effort to link home construction
with mass production, thus reducing costs. There is no hardwood in the
house. Stucco and flooring are laid on Masonite board and the ceilings
are Celotex. All interior walls are paneled to avoid having to maintain
plaster. The entire frame is supported on steel beams and the interior
walls are movable.
In this American version of a “machine for living,”
cabinets are built in and all doors slide into the walls on ball bearing
tracks. The rooms wrap around a vertical core that contains the stairs,
chimney and utilities. Yet there is ample space where it is needed, and
a feeling of spaciousness for the activities of the family.