James L. Nagle

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Jim Nagle 2010

James Lee (Jim) Nagle (born 1937 in Iowa City)[1] is an American architect practising in Chicago.


Nagle received a Bachelor of Arts from Stanford University in 1959, a Bachelor of Architecture from M.I.T. in 1962, and a Master of Architecture from Harvard University in 1964. Following graduation from Harvard, Nagle travelled to the Netherlands as a Fulbright Scholar to study architecture and urbanism. On his return to the United States in 1965, Nagle joined the office of Stanley Tigerman, leaving in 1966 to open a firm with Larry Booth, a fellow architect at Tigerman's office. In 1981, Nagle left his partnership with Booth to establish Nagle Hartray and Associates with Jack Hartray.[2] The firm is known today as Nagle Hartray Architecture.

Nagle has taught design at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT). He has made accreditation visits to Columbia University and Harvard University and has taught, exhibited, and lectured extensively at numerous other schools of architecture. Additionally, he has served as Chairman of the AIA National Committee on Design, President of the Chicago Architecture Foundation, President of the Graham Foundation Board, and Design Juror on many State and National Awards Programs. He is a member of the Archeworks Board of Directors, the Design Matters Advisory Committee, and the Board of Overseers at the IIT College of Architecture.

Nagle’s firm has won over seventy-five industry design awards and has been published in architectural magazines nationally and internationally. Nagle has designed over 100 single-family houses for clients across the country.

The Chicago Seven[edit]

In the late 1970s, Nagle became a member of the Chicago Seven, a group led by Tigerman which emerged in opposition to the doctrinal application of modernism, as represented particularly in Chicago by the followers of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.

In 2005, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, organized a reunion of the Chicago Seven to discuss the contemporary state of Chicago architecture, Celebrating 25 Years of the Chicago Seven. As part of the panel discussion, Nagle commented on the state of affairs that prompted the intervention of the Chicago Seven: "It wasn't Mies that got boring. It was the copiers that got boring.... You got off an airplane in the 1970s, and you didn't know where you were."[3] In his interview as part of the Chicago Architects Oral Histories Project, Nagle spoke of the work his office was doing at that time: "I remember the reaction to [one of our projects] was, Wow, these guys are changing; they're doing things that are different from what they did before; there's a new movement afoot. So we all got excited about moving on to something that was different. A lot of it really had to do with history. That's what the postmodernist movement was all about. The appreciation of history made us all much better architects. One of the things that I find from 1930s and 1940s architecture is that the people who have gone through the Beaux-Arts understand the history of architecture and for the good architects, such as Alvar Aalto and Corbusier, it probably made them better modernists because they didn’t learn through abstraction. Gropius was wrong. You should know your history and understand and be able to operate on those levels and then go on to do your own thing and presumably do something that’s original."[4]


Selected Past Work[edit]

  • Sundial House :: Unbuilt
James Nagle's entry for the 1976 Chicago Seven exhibit of theoretical house designs, presented at the Richard Gray Gallery on Michigan Avenue. Designed for an abstracted dunes site, the house explores neo-plastic space derived from De Stijl, the forms of Le Corbusier, and the tension between the circle and orthogonal grid. Though it was a theoretical project, it was designed to be buildable, with tight control of form and program within the circle. As Nagle wrote at the time, architecture “should create a harmonic whole and it is best when it achieves a maximum plastic expression while solving the practical requirements.”[5]
  • Kinzie Park Tower :: Chicago, IL
"This condominium tower achieves what many River North apartment and condo buildings miss. Instead of having balconies sticking out of the facade, on this building they are tucked neatly between each sculptural curve and angle. Those curves also provide unusually expansive views for a great number of units."[6]
  • Greyhound Bus Terminal :: Chicago, IL[7][8]
In addition to 35,000 square feet (3,300 m2) of enclosed space, the terminal has 10,000 square feet (930 m2) of space under each of its two bus canopies. The requirement of unobstructed space beneath the canopies’ 45-foot (14 m) span informed the structurally expressive profile of "this elegant essay in architectural engineering."[9] Recipient of an Award of Merit from the Structural Engineers Association of Illinois.
Construction of low-cost housing within an ambitious master plan contributed to the general revitalization of an area that had been in decline since the 1970s. Recipient of the Design Matters: Best Practices in Affordable Housing Award.
The pavilion-style cottage is 1,500 square feet (140 m2) in area, plus porches and carport. Materials include clear cedar siding and ceilings, local field stone chimney and walkways, fir floors, birch doors and white plaster partition walls. The clerestory windows and twelve-foot wide rolling glass doors are mahogany-framed. Recipient of the Chicago AIA Distinguished Building Award.
The house is in large part a gallery designed to accommodate the owner’s art and furniture collection. The structure is framed in white painted steel with white aluminum panels and clear and translucent glass infill. Granite and teakwood floors with glass bridges and stairs accent the otherwise white environment. Geothermal wells lie beneath the front yard, and sunscreens and automatic shades are used for energy control. Recipient of the Chicago AIA Distinguished Building Award.

Recently Completed[edit]

  • Northfield House :: Northfield, IL[18]
  • Dunes Compound :: Leelanau County, MI[19]
  • North Shore House :: Kenilworth, IL
  • Librarian's House :: Shelby, MI

In Progress[edit]

  • Teton House :: Jackson, WY
  • Viga House :: Tesuque, NM

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Oral History of James Lee Nagle, interviewed by Annemarie van Roessel, compiled under the auspices of the Chicago Architects Oral History Project, the Ernest R. Graham Study Center for Architectural Drawings, Department of Architecture, the Art Institute of Chicago. 2000, p. 1.
  2. ^ "James Lee Nagle (b. 1937)". The Art Institute of Chicago. 2011. The Art Institute of Chicago. Retrieved 9 February 2011.
  3. ^ Kamin, Blair. "Adding up the other Chicago Seven". Chicago Tribune. 2 October 2005. The Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 9 February 2011.
  4. ^ Oral History of James Lee Nagle, interviewed by Annemarie van Roessel, 2000, p. 83.
  5. ^ Adrian, Dennis. "James L. Nagle: The Sun Dial House". Architecture and Urbanism. July 1977:122-125.
  6. ^ Sinkevitch, Alice, American Institute of Architects, Chicago Chapter, Chicago Architecture Foundation, Landmarks Preservations Council of Illinois. AIA Guide to Chicago. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2004, p. 144.
  7. ^ "Small Building Shoulders Big Structural Expression." Building Design & Construction. September 1990:69-70.
  8. ^ Thiele, Jennifer. "The Bus Stops Here." Contract Design. November 1991:58-60.
  9. ^ Sinkevitch, Alice, American Institute of Architects, Chicago Chapter, Chicago Architecture Foundation, Landmarks Preservations Council of Illinois. AIA Guide to Chicago. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2004, p. 159.
  10. ^ Architectural Record. January 1996.
  11. ^ "Housing for Chicago's Neglected West Side." Progressive Architecture. October 1994:28.
  12. ^ Chapralis, Sally. "Laboratory for Inner-City Development, Chicago." Urban Land. November 1993:15-16.
  13. ^ Drueding, Meghan. "Private Lives." Residential Architect. April 2002:87-89.
  14. ^ Nagle, James. "Architect's Cottage: Lean Construction Leads to Pavilion of Marvelous Modesty." Wood Design and Building. September 2002:16-20.
  15. ^ "Upon Reflection from Home and Apartment Trends 2101". Trends Ideas. Trends. Retrieved 9 February 2011.
  16. ^ Ennis, Michael. "Shock of the New in Dallas." Western Interiors and Design. September 2004:132-141.
  17. ^ Dallas Interiors. Fall/Winter, 2007-08.
  18. ^ "High Impact from Home and Remodelling Volume 2604". Trends Ideas. Trends. Retrieved 9 February 2011.
  19. ^ Newman, Christine. "On the Waterfront". Chicago Magazine. October 2008. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 9 February 2011.