CITIZEN FOCUS: Bohlmann builds a local heritage | Local News
When Robert Bohlmann was in college, he was introduced to the tools used for drawing, and it was like finding the missing piece of a puzzle.
When he learned that architects used these tools on a daily basis, Bohlmann immediately decided that he was going to become an architect.
Spending the first decade or so of his life in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, Bohlmann quickly learned the importance of hard work. He also learned to mend a lot of different things with just his hands. It was in the Kankakee region that these hands picked up the tools to draw and sparked a chain of events that led him to the ITT technical institute before becoming a successful architect.
Bohlmann started working as an architect in 1970 before setting up his own company RGB Architectural Group in 1994.
“I had a bit of fun with the name. I’m a computer enthusiast and when computer screens and even televisions first came out there was RGB – red, green, blue, which are also the main colors in design, ”he said. he explains. “It was also my initials.”
He will then retire in 2016, just before being given the opportunity to become the executive director of the B. Harley Bradley House – also known as Wright in Kankakee – which was built in 1900.
“It keeps me busy, it’s a lot of fun and it makes my wife happy – I’m not home,” Bohlmann said with a laugh, mentioning that his house in Ashkum was built the same year as House B. Harley Bradley. “It’s a bit like home away from home.”
Not only is he responsible for nurturing and sharing the story of Frank Lloyd Wright’s first Prairie House, but he also uses this role as a way to serve the next generation of architects and designers.
After taking over general management, one of his first projects was to clear and organize the clutter in the basement. He then noticed the stone-lined walls and how it looked like other Wright designs and was inspired to turn the basement into a learning space.
One section of the basement is laid out with drafting tables and another section is laid out for design [equipped with stained-glass crafts]. With this, Bohlmann brings in schools for field trips so that students can learn in the field what it is like to be part of a team of architects. They take turns learning architecture, interior design, structural design and engineering.
His goal is not only to teach a process that is dear to him, but also to let children know that teamwork is a component of success.
“I could be the greatest architect in the world and have the most beautiful designs, but if I didn’t have an ironworker, a mason, a carpenter, an electrician to build my design, who cares if I am a good architect. ? “
Take a look back at his story about starting RGB and all the things he did in Kankakee
Bohlmann certainly left his mark in Kankakee County by working on major construction projects in the area. One of his favorite clients was Olivet Nazarene University.
“Olivet was like family,” he said. “The way they treat people, the meetings would open with prayer. Very friendly and just a class act.
He was hired by Dr A. Leslie Parrott towards the end of the President’s term in late summer, when they were looking for something to do outside a dormitory and gymnasium. He was told the building had to be finished before school started on November 1, which gave him 90 days to do everything.
“We poured the last bit of concrete on Thursday night and the re-entry started on Friday,” Bohlmann recalled, saying the building had become known as “Red Square” because of the red concrete pattern.
Other projects he worked on in his 30+ years with the UN included the Centennial Chapel, the UN Masonry Entrances with the Eternal Flame, the Admission Center, the Weber Center, the refurbishment of floors in Burke’s administration building, two additions to the Ludwig Center, locker room work when the Chicago Bears first arrived in town and the final project was with Reed Hall of Science. He also worked on the alumni center which was allegedly originally worked by an intern from Frank Lloyd Wright.
Bohlmann’s local work didn’t stop at the university. He made all the drawings for the county administrative building in downtown Kankakee. He also worked at the 1909 courthouse, originally designed by Zachary Taylor Davis, the man responsible for Comiskey Park (now Guaranteed Rate Field) and Wrigley Field.
The courthouse was built with four floors, but only two were fitted out for use. When it came time for Bohlmann and his team to do some rework, he had the brilliant idea of taking the practically intact marble from the fourth floor and using it as the base for the first level floor.
“Working at the courthouse was trying to bring old world character back to modern design,” he said.
Additionally, RGB has worked with St. Mary’s Hospital, including the OB suite, as well as with CSL Behring. Some of his favorite memories were watching the big openings of his buildings and seeing people take it all in.
“I was lucky, I had a whole career for one practitioner,” he said. “I always tell people that I have never worked a day in my life. I love what I did, I couldn’t have been anything else.