Schiller and Frank Architects
1926 - 2010
Burton Frank was part of the first class of returning veterans circa 1944. Frank got hired immediately after graduation from University of Illinois School of Architecture by a local firm as a draftsman. After one year he started his own firm, Schiller and Frank with Donald Schiller. They were located in downtown Chicago on Chicago Avenue. Donald’s father had a building there and didn’t charge them any rent so they stayed there, rent-free, for a few years.
The partnership and firm lasted about 54 years. Frank said, “It was a good firm and Donald was a good partner. I did most of the design and he took care of the business end, which was a good division of labor. We started off with homes, although we did have some very good luck and got a couple of big industrial and office jobs. One of them won an award in 1964 -- it was named the Industrial Building of the Year. It was Chicago Aerial Industries, located just outside of Barrington, and they built the biggest aerial camera during the war that took pictures of the ground. The factory is still there.”
The firm had many large housing projects. Frank said, “we designed housing projects for people whose children had grown up and moved out. We were there when they came up with the term ‘empty nesters.’ The potential customers wanted more of an adult situation – larger rooms, garden areas, and above all, modern designs that were different. They were attached living but all had private gardens. The entrance was through the garden area through a wall so you could talk to people at the gate. They started selling at about $60,000 and must be worth a half million now. They’re still there and selling like mad.” Two of these projects are located in Rolling Meadows, Illinois and others are in and west of Chicago.
Schiller and Frank designed many private homes as well, some located in Olympia Fields and five or six in Highland Park…they’re still around but Frank says the records are all gone. According to Frank, when Schiller closed the office he threw all the records away.
While Frank was a contemporary of Edward Humrich and the Keck brothers, he did not know them well. When asked what inspired him, he said, “It was the best time to be an architect. Modernism was simply the design of the times.”