In 1933 Keck designed the House of Tomorrow for the Century of Progress exhibition in Chicago. In 1934 he designed another model house dubbed Crystal House. After viewing these model houses, wealthy clients from Chicago's North Shore started commissioning Keck to design homes for them.
Keck was a pioneer in the design of passive solar houses in the 1930s and 1940s. He realized that the House of Tomorrow was warm on sunny winter days. He started designing houses with more south-facing windows. In 1940 he designed a home for real estate developer Howard Sloan. The house was called a "solar house" by the Chicago Tribune, which was the first modern use of that term.
Keck was a part-time teacher of architecture at the New Bauhaus School (now IIT Institute of Design) and was head of the department there for five years. Keck was instrumental in bringing Laszlo Moholy-Nagy to Chicago as director of the school. Teachers and lecturers were such notables as Walter Gropius, Alvar Alto, R. Buckminster Fuller, Henry-Russel Hitchcock, Richard Neutra and Man Ray. In 1942, Keck appointed Ralph Rapson, then his employee, as his successor.
During the 1940s Keck designed pre-fabricated houses, such as Green's Ready-Builts. They were cheap and easy to build and offered high style to people whose budgets wouldn't allow custom homes. While other more famous firms were paying lip service to affordable homes for the masses, the Kecks were actually making it available.
Keck trademarks included a flat roof, passive solar energy, indirect lighting, cedar siding, radiant heat in the floor, post and beam construction, (most often wood, but sometimes steel), modular design and fixed Thermopane windows with separate operable screened vents. These vents are the most important Keck trademark...an easy way to recognize their architecture at a distance.
From csales-mylifestory.blogspot, jetsetmodern.com and chicagobauhausbeyond.org
|House of Tomorrow|
|Interior of Hohf House, photographed by Julius Shulman|
flickr.com - ChicagoGeek
|Lake Bluff home by Keck|
|Interior of Lake Bluff home|
|Glencoe home by Keck|
|Ad for Green's Ready-Build pre-fab home by Keck|
|Keck home featured in a "Futuramic" Oldsmobile ad|