George Brigham (1889–1977)
While teaching at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Brigham interacted with noted Modern architects like Richard Neutra and Rudolf Schindler. He began teaching at the University of Michigan in 1930 and continued there for 29 years. His style is characterized by the use of large windows, warm wood finishes, flat roofs with wide eaves, and patios to encourage outdoor living.
Alden Dow (1904–1983)
The son of the founder of the Dow Chemical Company, Alden Dow apprenticed with Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin. He opened his Midland, Michigan, practice in 1934. His home and studio, designed in 1936 with his patented Unit Block system, is a National Historic Landmark. In Ann Arbor, Dow designed the Fleming Administration Building (1966) among other buildings on the University of Michigan campus, as well as city hall and the public library.
Herb Johe (1914–2005)
A graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, Johe began teaching at the University of Michigan in 1947. He designed several houses in the Ann Arbor area, including his own home in Barton Hills.
Robert Metcalf (1923–)
A graduate of the University of Michigan (U-M), Metcalf was a head draftsman in George Brigham’s office before starting his own practice in 1952. He joined the faculty at U-M in 1955 and served as chair and then dean of architecture from 1968 to 1986, retiring in 1991. Metcalf designed more than 78 houses in Ann Arbor, 15 of which remain in the Ann Arbor Hills neighborhood. His homes are known for their attention to detail and site placement to maximize light and views.
William Muschenheim (1902–1990)
A New York architect, Muschenheim was a founder of the radical Congrés Internationaux d’Architecture Moderne (CIAM) in 1938 to promote Modern design. He came to the University of Michigan in 1950 and retired in 1972. Muschenheim served as colorist for Chicago’s Century of Progress in 1933, and his home at 1251 Heather Way once reflected his skill—the doors and trim were all painted a different vibrant color.
Olencki & Albano (1922–2002)
While studying architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology, Olencki served as a draftsman for Ludwig Mies van de Rohe. He joined the University of Michigan faculty in 1948 and became dean in 1964. His partner Joseph Albano, a graduate of the Armour Institute and Northwest University in Chicago, also studied with Mies van de Rohe at IIT. He began teaching at the University of Michigan in 1947.
David Osler (1923–)
An Ann Arbor native, Osler attended the University of Michigan before working with local architect Douglas Loree. He established his own firm in 1958. Osler was known locally for taking a fresh approach to each design rather than conforming to a specific style. His firm received over 22 awards from the Michigan Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.
Robert Pond (1926–)
Pond was an apprentice of Frank Lloyd Wright’s at Taliesin from 1949 to 1954. He took a job in Ann Arbor with George Brigham, but soon left to work with Wright supervising the construction of the Turkel house in Detroit in 1955. Pond later served as an architect for Indiana University in Bloomington, a position he held for 26 years.
Walter Sanders (1906–1972)
Born in Ann Arbor, Sanders was also a founding member of CIAM. He was a professor at Columbia University from 1930 to 1936 and served as editor of Architectural Forum in 1938. He became a lecturer at the University of Michigan in 1947 and served as chair of the architecture department from 1954 to 1964. Sanders was interested in the use of Unistrut, a steel framing system that uses channel locks rather than screws, and incorporated the system into the design of his own home in Ann Arbor’s Barton Hills neighborhood.
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Michigan Modern in Print
“Great historical review of the much under- appreciated Detroit/ Midland area Architects and designers. Written by extremely knowledgeable writers.”
The Great Lakes State has always been known for its contributions to twentieth-century manufacturing, but it’s only beginning to receive wide attention for its contributions to Modern design and architecture.