Michigan Modernism Preview Party April 25th

Michigan Modernism Preview Party April 25, 2014

It’s preview party time for the Detroit Area Art Deco Society as the mid-century enthusiasts open up the Michigan Modernism Exposition on April 25, 7 – 11 p.m.

The annual art deco affair offers you and your guests first dibs on some of the best 20th century antiques and fine arts from the international market while enjoying complimentary wine and hors d’oeuvres.

We envelope the entire venue with the sounds of Detroit’s very own Wendell Harrison and his Swing Ensemble. Lastly a treat for your eyes as we’ll have on view a vintage 1948 Packard.


Preview party tickets are $65 in advance and can be purchased at Detroit Art Deco Society or by calling 248-582-3326. Proceeds from the preview party benefit DAADS scholarship, restoration and preservation programs.

The Southfield Civic Center
26000 Evergreen Road (at 10 1/2 Mile Road)
Southfield, Michigan (Map)

Preview Party: Friday April 25, 7pm – 11pm
Modernism Expo:
Saturday April 26, 10am – 6pm
Sunday April 27, 12pm – 5pm

“Historic Ann Arbor: An Architectural Guide,” reception and book signing

Book Flyer 3

UM Architectural Historian Leonard Eaton dies

EATON, LEONARD K. February 3, 1922-April 1, 2014

Leonard Kimball Eaton was born February 3, 1922 in Minneapolis, MN. He was the son of a prominent lawyer, Leo K. Eaton, and Elizabeth Barber Eaton. He excelled as an intercollegiate swimmer at Williams College and graduated in 1943 as a member of Phi Beta Kappa. During World War II he served in the U.S. Army as a medic with the 86th Mountain Infantry of the 10th Mountain Division. He received a Bronze Star for bravery in combat at Torre Iussi, Italy. He subsequently served in the U.S. Army Reserve where he rose to the rank of Major. After the war he entered Harvard University where he studied with historian Arthur Schlesinger, Sr. He received his Ph.D. in American Civilization from Harvard in 1951. In 1950 he was appointed to the faculty of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor to a position in what became the College of Architecture and Urban Planning. He was named Professor of Architecture in 1964. In 1985 he became the Emil Lorch Professor of Architecture. He retired in 1988 and was granted emeritus status by the Regents of the University of Michigan in 1989. During his career at the University of Michigan he published extensively on architecture and architectural history. His books include New England Hospitals (1957); Landscape Artist in America (1964), a study of the work of landscape architect Jens Jensen, chief designer of the western section of the Chicago, Illinois park system; Two Chicago Architects and Their Clients (with Elizabeth Douvan) (1969), a study of the clients and work of architects Howard Van Doren Shaw and Frank Lloyd Wright; American Architecture Comes of Age (1972), an examination of European reaction to the work of Henry Hobson Richardson and Louis Sullivan; Gateway Cities and Other Essays (1989), a study of Midwestern warehouse architecture and Hardy Cross, American Engineer (2006) a study of the groundbreaking work of structural engineer Hardy Cross. During his time at the University of Michigan he was active in numerous interdisciplinary activities with other faculty members. From 1979 to 1985 he served as an adviser about matters related to Frank Lloyd Wright to Domino’s Pizza founder Thomas Monaghan. With Monaghan’s sponsorship he organized three significant conferences in Ann Arbor on Wright’s work. He also taught undergraduate and graduate students at Wayne State University and the Flint, Grand Rapids, Port Huron and Dearborn campuses of the University of Michigan. He was a visiting professor at the University of Victoria, British Columbia. In 1985 he was awarded the Frederic Lindley Morgan Chair of Architectural Design at the University of Louisville. He was the recipient of numerous grants and awards to advance scholarship in architectural history from, among others, the Ford Foundation and the Fulbright Foundation. He was a member of the Society of Architectural Historians for over 50 years. He retired to the Oregon coast and continued to publish book reviews and scholarly articles, participate in history conferences and write poetry and a novel. He carried on extensive correspondence with friends, colleagues and former students. He was predeceased by his sister, Mary Eaton Staples. His marriage of three decades to Carrol Kuehn ended in divorce. In 1979 he married Ann Valentine White. He is survived by Carrol and their children, Mark Eaton of Alexandria, Virginia and his wife, Brooksie Koopman, Elisabeth Eaton of Brookfield, Wisconsin and her husband, Steven Ryan, and by Ann and her children, Kenneth White and his wife, Julie Revolinski, Alexandra White and her husband, Jeb Bishop, of Santa Cruz, California, Pamela Kemp of Mauzac, France, and her husband, Martin F. Kemp, and by four grandchildren, two step grandchildren, and one step greatgrandchild. A memorial service will be held on April 12 at 3:00 p.m. at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, 414 SW 9th Street, Newport, Oregon 97365. Donations to the church are welcome at P.O. Box 1014, Newport, Oregon 97365.
- See more at: http://obits.mlive.com/obituaries/AnnArbor/obituary.aspx?pid=170571392#sthash.aFG5aroa.dpuf

NOTE: Leonard Eaton and his wife commissioned house #6 on the a2modern map, designed by Edward Olencki and Joseph Albano.

Update (4.13): George B. Brigham Home and Architectural Studio

New information on the George Brigham Home and Architectural Studio is available below. The issue will be presented at the planning commission meeting April 15th.

The agenda packet for the Tuesday, April 15, 2014 Planning Commission meeting is now posted at the Legislative Information Center.

The Planning Commission will consider the following item. Click on this link to learn more about this project:

· 515 Oxford Special Exception Use and Planned Project Site Plan for City Council Approval – A proposal to construct a rear addition to an existing three-family structure on this 0.24 acre parcel and convert it to a sorority annex. The total building size will be 6,490 square feet. Planned project modifications are requested for reduced side and rear setbacks to allow the original footprint of the Brigham house and studio to be retained to preserve the house’s existing facade. A total of four parking spaces will be provided. Special exception use approval from the Planning Commission is required for a sorority use in the R2B district. The proposed maximum occupancy is 20, including a resident manager. (Ward 2) Staff Recommendation: Approval

For the full agenda and packet materials, follow the instructions below:

Click here to access the calendar page.
Select “2014″ and “City Planning Commission” from the drop-down menus at the top of the page.
Click on the “Search Calendar” button.
The agenda and packet materials may be found by clicking the “Meeting Details” link for the meeting date.

Written comments may be submitted to Planning Services, 1st floor of City Hall, during regular business hours (M-F, 8 am – 5 pm) or emailed to planning@a2gov.org. Comments received by noon the day of the meeting will be printed and distributed at the meeting.

The Planning Commission meeting will be broadcast live starting at 7 pm at CTN Channel 16 and via live webstream at A2Gov TV .

For more information, please contact Planning Services at (734) 794-6265.

“What’s Up in…Michigan?”

a2modern is mentioned in an interesting blog article written by University of Michigan Librarian Rebecca Price, March 4th, 2014 for the ARCHSEC The Official Blog of the Art Libraries Society of North America Architecture Section. Rebecca writes,” This statewide initiative is echoed by local groups, which focus their attention on mid-century modernism in their communities. An example of this is A2modern based in Ann Arbor. The group of homeowners, architects, and enthusiasts advocates for the awareness and appreciation of modern architecture in our midst. Their website is becoming a place to document and showcase modernist architecture in the area and their outreach efforts include hosting tours and lectures for the community.” See full article at:
See “What’s Up in …Michigan?” Thanks Rebecca!

‘Michigan ModernTM: Design that Shaped America’ Symposium and Exhibition Set to Open in Grand Rapids Venues This Summer

image003‘Michigan ModernTM: Design that Shaped America’ Symposium and Exhibition Set to Open in Grand Rapids Venues This Summer
Designer Todd Oldham will Offer Keynote at Symposium that Hails Michigan’s Role in American Modernism
LANSING, Mich. – World renowned designer Todd Oldham will deliver the keynote address as the “Michigan ModernTM: Design that Shaped America” symposium moves from Cranbrook Educational Community to Grand Rapids this summer.
Oldham, best known for his fashion lines, interior design, books and television appearances, will help kick off the symposium that focuses on Michigan’s central role in the development of Modernism, from June 19-21, at Kendall College of Art and Design, Ferris State University (KCAD). An exhibition of the same title opens at the Grand Rapids Art Museum on May 18 and runs through August 24.
“We have moved the discussion to West Michigan where companies like Herman Miller and Steelcase created products that influenced how people lived and how they worked in offices around the world,” said State Historic Preservation Officer Brian Conway. “A recreation component has been added to play off West Michigan’s resort industry. For example, the fiberglass boat industry originated in Holland and led the construction of pleasure boats that were popular and affordable.”
Oldham recently published a 672-page, 15-pound book that pays homage to textile designer Alexander Girard, one of the most prolific and versatile mid-20th century designers. His work spanned many disciplines, including textile design, graphic design, typography, illustration, furniture design, interior design, product design, exhibit design and architecture. Among Girard’s many accomplishments were his bold, colorful and iconic textile designs for Herman Miller from 1952-1975.
Michigan innovators—architects, designers, manufacturers and education institutions— have influenced design throughout the country and internationally.

“What began as the design of buildings, automobiles and furniture became synonymous with American life and further influenced the design of everything from boats to pop-up tents,” Conway said.
Among the other symposium highlights:
• Debbie Millman, host of Design Matters, will interview Jim Miller Melberg, designer of sculptural play forms for playgrounds during the 1950s and 1960s.
• Emily Bills, managing director of the Shulman Institute, will discuss Michigan’s influence on California Modernism.
• Donald Albrecht of the Museum of the City of New York will discuss Norman Bel Geddes, “the man who streamlined America.”
• Mira Nakashima will discuss the contributions of her father George Nakashima, including his Origins line, designed for the Widdicomb Furniture Company.
• Marilyn Moss will discuss the work of fabric artist Bill Moss, creator of the modern pop- up tent.

The symposium will also offer tours of modern structures like the Marcel Breuer-designed St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church in Norton Shores, and a rare opportunity to visit Herman Miller design and manufacturing facilities, including the factory where the wood components for the iconic Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman are made. A tour of the Frank Lloyd Wright- designed Meyer May House in Grand Rapids is also among the seven tours offered.
The State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) is hosting the symposium as part of its Michigan Modern project, which began in 2008. The symposium is held in partnership with Kendall College of Art and Design and the Grand Rapids Art Museum (GRAM).
“KCAD is pleased to be part of an event that promotes Michigan’s central role in the development of Modernism, and we look forward to welcoming people to our campus who share our passion for design,” said David Rosen, president of Kendall College of Art and Design. “Michigan’s design industry has never waned. It continues to innovate and have influence well beyond our borders.”
An exhibition of the same title opens at the GRAM on May 18 and runs through August 24.This exhibition celebrates the rich, broad impact of Michigan’s furniture and industrial designers and architects, focusing on the 1930s through the 1970s.

“GRAM is thrilled to be sharing this nationally recognized exhibition with the West Michigan audience, in part because it highlights the innovation and creativity of our region, and beyond that, mid-century modern connects with baby-boomers who grew up in that era and is influential for younger generations finding their own styles,” said Dana Friis-Hansen, director and CEO. “The exhibition explores a range of design areas, including industry, institutions, public housing, living spaces, work spaces, auto styling and recreation. At GRAM we’re excited to highlight design for outdoors, including innovative tents and West Michigan advances in boat design.”
Complimentary exhibitions will also run at KCAD and Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts (UICA).
The KCAD exhibition will showcase the iconic graphic design work of West Michigan designers and companies such as Herman Miller, Nelson and Girard, from 1948-1970. It will be on view from June 16-July 18 in The Fed Galleries in the Woodbridge N. Ferris building, 17 Pearl St. NW.
Mid-Century Alchemy, at UICA from June 6-August 17, focuses on the influence of the mid-century era on contemporary artists. The exhibition will feature custom wallpaper from the Detroit Wallpaper Company and feature items with a relationship to the home environment, including design objects from Ryan Pieper, Garrett Brooks, Matt Loeks, Crystal Forsma, and Anthony Carpenter.
For symposium details and to register, visit michiganmodern.org. For information about the exhibition, visit artmuseumgr.org.

The State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) is financed in part by a grant from the National Park Service, Department of Interior. The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of the Department of the Interior. The Department of the Interior prohibits discrimination on its federally funded assistance programs. If you believe you’ve been discriminated against please contact the Office of Equal Opportunity, National Park Service, 1849 C. St. NW, Washington DC 20240.
The State Historic Preservation Office is part of the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA), which provides financial and technical assistance through public and private partnerships to create and preserve decent, affordable housing for low- and moderate-income residents and to engage in community economic development activities to revitalize urban and rural communities.
*MSHDA’s loans and operating expenses are financed through the sale of tax-exempt and taxable bonds as well as notes to private investors, not from state tax revenues. Proceeds are loaned at below-market interest rates to developers of rental housing, and help fund mortgages and home improvement loans. MSHDA also administers several federal housing programs. For more information, visit www.michigan.gov/mshda.

Expanding the Line: Architectural Delineation

Expanding the Line: Architectural Delineation

Exhibit: April 14th-May 30th

Location: Gallery One, Washtenaw Community College Student Center Building Room 108

This exhibition chronicles architectural drawing techniques from the 1920′s through the present day with illustrations of local buildings. Methods include drawing on vellum, mylar, and blueprint as well as sepia and blackline reproduction techniques. Technologies include a pin register drafting system, Computer-Aided Drafting, laser scanning, and Building Information Modeling (BIM).

Exhibits will include Hill Auditorium and General Motors Headquarters by Albert Kahn Associates, the Jean Paul Slusser home by George B. Brigham, the Dale Fosdick residence by David W. Osler, and the E. W. Reynolds home by Robert C. Metcalf.

The exhibit opens April 14th and will run through May 30th.

Gallery One is located on the first floor of WCC’s Student Center building. Its hours are Monday and Tuesday from 10:00am to 6:00pm, Wednesday and Thursday from 10:00am to 8:00pm, and Friday from 10:00am to noon.

See WCC site for further information.

Ann Arbor District Library proposes design changes to key Alden Dow design element

In response to the Ann Arbor District Library’s renovation proposal, Craig McDonald, Director, Alden B. Dow Home and Studio and a2modern submitted the following letters to the Ann Arbor District Library Board. The letters were read at the March 13, 2014 special library board meeting.

I. Letter to Ann Arbor District Board from Craig McDonald, Director, Alden B. Dow Home and Studio, Midland

Dear Ann Arbor District Library Board:

I have been reading about the proposed changes to the Ann Arbor District Library. I know how important it is to make our libraries as relevant as possible in our ever-changing electronic world. We are making similar modifications to our library in Midland. Access to information and the dissemination of information is paramount in making our libraries continue to be vital community assets.

I am excited to see that the architects working on renovations to the Ann Arbor District Library feel it important to retain the horizontal band that is a key element to the design of the building. The rectilinear structure is balanced by this horizontal element and it serves to create the loggia that welcomes you into the building. It also creates a sense of human scale to the structure as well as it being aesthetically beautiful. The concern I have is that they intend to “modernize” this detail by either covering or replacing the green porcelain enamel fascia panels with a new material. What is the rationale for this? The green panels add a liveliness and uniqueness to the structure. They are meant to contrast the color of the brick. They are also indicative of the work Alden B. Dow created in the 1950s and distinguish it as one of his designs. The color draws your attention to the structure and focuses you to the entrances that are created below it. The color also creates a continuity that is not achieved by the proposed materials, that only break up any sense of continuousness as seen in the rendering.

Other architects of the time also used porcelain enamel panels in their designs including Eero Saarinen use of them on the General Motor Tech Center in 1950. They are a part of our history and a unique building material of the 20th Century. To cover or replace these panels will take away one of the unique and distinguishing elements of this Dow designed building. I respectfully encourage and challenge the architects to see how they can incorporate this beautiful, distinguishing feature of the building into their well-crafted modifications.


Craig McDonald


The Alden B. Dow Home and Studio

II. Letter to Board from a2modern Board

Dow Library Renovation Project Can Maintain Its Connection to Its Creative Legacy and Forward Looking Patrons

Dear Library Board,
As the Library Board considers the proposal to “upgrade” the entrance to the downtown library, a2modern strongly urges that proposals include the reuse of key architectural elements and features from the original Alden Dow design as possible. One area of particular interest is the retention of the teal metal panels, the “gems” of the original architectural elements, as part of the new entrance design.

In 1957 when the library opened, townsfolk were proud to have a cutting edge modern building as a community gathering place. Library Patrons were pleased to have secured Alden Dow, arguably Michigan’s greatest architect, to design it. Later that same year, The Michigan Librarian published Dow’s lecture to state librarians that included his intensely personal philosophy of life and its interpretation into library functions. A Dow designed library was forward thinking and enriched the lives of patrons, especially children. The influence of the color wheel could be seen in architectural elements; especially in the teal accent panels, a design “cue” Dow often used. It gave more punch to the simple loggia beneath it and the garden in front.

Two additions later, necessitated by growing needs, have pretty much obscured Dow’s original design. However, these teal gems remain and would be worthwhile saving not only to honor the library’s architectural origins but to emphasize its creativity and quality, its pizazz! Why does the library need to remove a gem from a platinum setting and replace it with a cement fiber that is durable, lightweight and fire resistant, with “high eco-value?” Each of our city’s libraries should reflect the hopes and aspirations of its past and future patrons and be unique and individual in how it accomplishes this.

a2modern, a community of more than 300 homeowners and enthusiasts of modernism, seeks to build awareness of and appreciation for our area’s unique stock of modern homes and buildings. Dow’s homes and buildings are a significant and important chapter in that rich legacy. Thank you for your attention and leadership on this important matter – honoring Ann Arbor’s cultural legacy through learning and architecture.

Respectfully submitted by the a2modern board – Nancy Deromedi, Grace Shackman, Linda Elert and Tracy Aris

George Brigham Home and Architectural Studio-New Dates for Planning Commission and City Council

a2modern would like to thank all of you who have taken the time to write to the Ann Arbor Planning Commission and City Council on the issues surrounding George Brigham’s Home and Architectural Studio located at 515/517 Oxford Road, Ann Arbor. We recently learned that there are new dates that the issue will go before Planning and City Council, please see below.

Planning Commission April 15th
First reading City Council April 21st
Final decision City Council May 19th
[Note: These dates could change again]

New site plan submitted to Planning Commission.

Please send your letter of concern to the addresses below, also, if possible, please attend and speak at the meetings!

Comments for Planning Commission can be mailed to 301 E. Huron Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48104, dropped off at City Hall or emailed to planning@a2gov.org.
Comments for City Council can be mailed to 301 E. Huron Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48104, dropped off at City at the Clerk’s office (2nd floor city hall) or emailed to clerk@a2gov.org.

Three Michigan Architects: Part I-David Osler

Mundus II

If you have not been to the David Osler exhibit at the University of Michigan Museum of Art, you should do so! The exhibit closes March 30th!
See MLIVE related article, “Ann Arbor architect David Osler reflects on 5 decades of Michigan homes” (March 8, 2014).
Also, a recent interview with David in Slice, Ann Arbor (February 27, 2014).

The Museum curators state that “Three Michigan Architects: Part 1-Osler is the first in a series of three consecutive exhibitions, with subsequent presentations of domestic work by Robert Metcalf (April 5-July 13) and George Brigham (July 19-October 12). The series will culminate in Fall 2014 with symposium and Three Michigan Architects: Osler, Metcalf, and Brigham—both of which will explore the importance of this circle of Ann Arbor-based architects, situating their regional body of domestic work into the larger context of modern architecture in the U.S. that developed on the East Coast and West Coast from the 1930s–1980s.”

Hope you can make it to all three exhibits! a2modern