D. Coder Taylor was born in 1913 in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. He studied architecture at the Washington University in St. Louis and, later, at the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh, where he received his degree in architecture in 1935. He began his career with his uncle, R. Harold Zook, who had a flourishing residential practice in the Chicago suburbs. Taylor left to serve in the military and returned to Chicago to join Holsman, Holsman, Klekamp & Taylor, where he worked until he founded the firm Yost & Taylor with L. Morgan Yost in 1952. In 1960, Taylor organized Coder Taylor & Associates. He was elected to the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects in 1969. He died in Evanston, Illinois, in 2000.
Taylor speaks about his education and training at Carnegie; the Century of Progress International Exhibition, 1933-34; Taylor's first job with Harold Zook; competitions; Holsman, Holsman, Klekamp & Taylor; mutual ownership; community development trusts; collaborating with Mies van der Rohe; bankruptcy and resignation from Holsman, Holsman, Klekamp & Taylor; partnership with L. Morgan Yost.
Perspective view of a house, Entry to the Chicago Tribune Small House Competition, 1945. D. Coder Taylor, architect; rendered by Ted Kautzky. Department of Architecture, The Art Institute of Chicago.
"[Lannon stone] is a facing material, as is brick...I just liked the stone better....I went to the project one day, and they were starting to lay the stone. It didn't look proper in the way they were laying it, the order of the stone. The mason who was laying it was not doing a good job. I went to the contractor's superintendent and said, 'That isn't being done right.' He called the man down from the scaffold, this man was a burly fellow, and I didn't know until later he happened to be the union boss. He said,'What is the matter with the stone?' I said, 'It's just not being laid right.' ...He said, 'Well, what are you going to do about it?' I said, 'Take it down and rebuild it.' He said, 'I'm not going to take it down. I'm going to see you in the alley.' He never saw me in the alley--he could have knocked everything out of me. My first encounter with the union!" (pp. 43-44)
Funding for this oral history was provided by the Fellows Foundation of the American Institute of Architects. Publication of this oral history in web-accessible form was made possible by the generous support of The Vernon and Marcia Wagner Access Fund at The Art Institute of Chicago, The James & Catherine Haveman Foundation, The Reva and David Logan Family Fund of the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, and Daniel Logan and The Reva and David Logan Foundation.