Photos: Inside The Renovation Of The Iconic 'Ferris Bueller' House
By Stephen Gossett in Arts & Entertainment on Jun 8, 2017 9:40PM
It's one of the most famous homes in Chicago, among architecture buffs, film geeks and those of us who overlap both camps. But the modernist-classic Ben Rose House—or as you might know it, Cameron Frye's house from Ferris Bueller's Day Off—was virtually uninhabitable, and even in danger being demolished, until recently. Now, the house built by a Mies van der Rohe disciple and made famous by Cameron's Ferrari mishap is on its way back to being livable "for generations to come."
The current owners of the A. James Speyer-designed standout, in Highland Park, said that before they landed the glassy, boxy jewel, several other prospective buyers planned to tear it down, according to architect Jim Baranski, whose firm Baranski Hammer Moretta & Sheehy is heading up the current renovation. They however were intent on not only keeping the famed structure standing, but making sure it would be a place they could live in year-round.
Because of the house's thin glass and a terrible lack of thermal resistance in the flooring and roof, the house couldn't stay warm in the cold months. (On one cold day this winter, the house never got above 50 degrees, Baranaksi told Chicagoist.) But those issues will all be resolved under the current rehab, as will the "garage problem." The front of the house was partially blocked by a curiously placed garage, which was tacked on a couple of decades after the home was originally built, according to Baranski. So to get around the ugly issue, they leveled the old one and are in the process of constructing an ambitious, underground garage that connects to the home's basement. (You can see an impressive rendering in the gallery above.) But don't worry, Cameron's infamous Ferrari crash in Ferris? It took place in property's showroom-style pavilion, which is still standing strong.
The remodel also includes extensive interior remodeling. And the exterior color will be restored to its original deep red, not dissimilar to one sometimes employed by Frank Lloyd Wright.
As you can tell the fixes are all functional, which means the famous modernist aesthetic will be preserved in full. "It's a wonderful example of midcentury modernism, in the spirit of Mies" Baranski said. (The original architect, Speyer, studied under van der Rohe.) "It's just a fantastic example of the International Style," added Baranski, who said he's a fan of Bueller but is really interested in the building for its architectural significance.
He's a dedicated fan of the home's modernist sensibility. "People say it's cold and impersonal—bit I never felt that way. I always thought it was inspiring and meticulously detailed," he said.
Crews have been working on the renovation for about a month so far, and Baranski expects another seven months will be needed, if not more. But for architecture lovers—or '80s teen-comedy nerds—it'll be well worth it.