Donald G. Kalec, 87, Emeritus Professor of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, died in Florida near his immediate family on May 26, 2023. In 2006, he received the Landmarks Illinois Lifetime Achievement Award, recognizing his contributions to historic preservation and education.

He was instrumental in the preservation and restoration of the Frank Lloyd Wright Home & Studio, part of the small group that sought to buy the property from the Nooker family and one of five people who formed the first Restoration Committee. He served as author, with John Thorpe, of the master plan for the property’s restoration to its 1909 condition, published as “The Plan for Restoration and Adaptive Use of the Frank Lloyd Wright Home & Studio” in 1978. In addition, he wrote The Home and Studio of Frank Lloyd Wright in Oak Park, Illinois, 1889-1911, published in 1982. In the 1980s, he served as the staff restoration architect, overseeing the work that earned an American Institute of Architects’ National Merit Award in 1987. He continued on the Restoration Committee (Frank Lloyd Wright Trust), advising on the restoration of the Frederick C. Robie House, Chicago.

Mr. Kalec returned to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago after his leave of absence where he proposed a new curriculum that combined preservation theory and practical experience. In 1993, the school adopted Kalec’s plan for a Master of Science in Historic Preservation degree. Since its inception, hundreds of students have been trained.

Born on June 18, 1935, he received his BA from Auburn University, Alabama in 1957, and his BArch from the University of Florida, Gainesville in 1963. His life-changing opportunity came as an apprentice, 1965-69, with the Taliesin Fellowship of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation at two locations: Taliesin, Wisconsin and Taliesin West, Arizona. This education in Wright’s principles was the foundation behind Kalec’s expertise in Wright architecture when he first came to Oak Park. 

He was a masterful architectural photographer, creating about 100,000 images. These and his collected papers form the Donald G. Kalec Collection of the Organic Architecture and Design Archives in Chicago.

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