A wide shot of a ceramics studio, featuring students working with pottery wheels and other tools.

2018 Thesis Presentations


Jeanne Sylvester will receive a Master of Science degree in Historic Preservation from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in May of 2018. The topic of her thesis studies is “N. Max Dunning, Chicago Architect: His Life and Work.” Jeanne has interned for the City of Chicago, Department of Planning and Development in the Historic Preservation Division, where she has drafted, reviewed, edited and performed archival and permit research for multiple landmark designation reports, assisted staff with preliminary research and survey information in support of the Section 106 work conducted for Jackson Park, and responded to public inquiries for information and assistance with the Chicago Historic Resources Survey. She was also an intern for WTTW, Chicago PBS, Chicago Public Media where she assisted with an upcoming installment of Series “Ten that Changed America.”

Jeanne is a Commissioner for the Architectural Commission of the Village of Long Grove. She is a licensed and practicing attorney, and has worked in private practice as well as for the City of Chicago Department of Law and Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. She received her juris doctorate degree from DePaul University where she was a member of the Law Review and her undergraduate degree in history from Northwestern University.

Jeanne Sylvester, “N. Max Dunning, Chicago Architect: His Life and Work”

Nicole Frank is receiving an M.S. Historic Preservation degree from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and holds a bachelor’s degree from the College of Charleston in historic preservation and art history. Throughout her studies, Nicole has been exposed to many aspects of preservation including city government work, materials conservation, and historic research. Nicole looks to continue her work in the field of preservation, specializing in hands-on restoration and connecting that passion to her work in government agencies. She is interested specifically in the building materials of the mid-century, dealing with the conservation of materials made through mass production rather than through hand craftsmanship.

Thesis Title: Mid-Century Glass Block: The Colored, Patterned, and Textured Era

The Owens-Illinois Corporation (OI) and the Pittsburgh Corning Corporation (PC) manufactured glass blocks between 1957 and 1979 that featured design aesthetics unlike any that had come previously. By the mid-century interest in and sales of glass block had decreased, after their initial popularity in the 1920s and 1930s. Owens-Illinois and Pittsburgh Corning needed to breathe new life into the building material to boost sales of a failing product. What resulted was a brief period of ceramic frit fused, colored, patterned, rectangular, and textured blocks that offered new graphic possibilities to architects and builders. A range of colors from walnut to vibrant coral in several geometric patterns were available. The blocks could be utilized as decoratively or minimally as desired. Often found on the outskirts and in the suburbs of metropolitan areas, these glass blocks embodied mid-century design and added decorative elements to otherwise simple forms. These glass blocks are no longer manufactured and throughout time are being replaced by their clear and simply patterned counter parts. It is valuable to understand the context and history of these decorative glass blocks before they disappear entirely from the built environment.

Nicole Frank, "Mid-Century Glass Block: The Colored, Patterned, and Textured Era"