Modern Designers

David W. Osler

Design Profession: Architect

Building Types: Residential

David Osler, a native of Ann Arbor, Michigan, attended University High School in 1938. He graduated from the University of Michigan School of Art and Architecture program in 1942. Osler served in the United States Navy during World War II and returned to Ann Arbor in 1946, where he married Connie Lorch, daughter of Emil Lorch, the founder of the University of Michigan's architecture program. Osler then joined the office of Ann Arbor architect Douglas Loree before opening his own firm, David W. Osler Associates, in 1957.

Many of Osler's early projects were residential commissions in the Ann Arbor area, including his own home not far from the University of Michigan campus. As Osler gained experience, his projects evolved from local residences to churches like St. Clare's Episcopal Church, also in Ann Arbor, and public and educational buildings like the Howell Public Library in nearby Howell, Michigan.

Osler was known for his unique design solutions that could not be categorized by a specific style. Instead, he played with the line between modernism and postmodernism, crafting simple and elegant designs from basic shapes and forms, transforming the traditional into new and non-traditional solutions. One such design, Oslund condominiums, located in Ann Arbor, Michigan, are Osler's interpretation of a planned community of sorts and were inspired by British row houses. Over the course of Osler's career, his office received more than twenty awards from the Michigan Society of Architects and won the American Institute of Architects Michigan Gold Medal in 1969.

Osler credited his childhood with shaping his feelings toward his career as an architect. He believed that insightful, observational abilities and imagination opened his creativity. He also recognized that self-criticism and continuous improvement are necessary to create better, sustainable work that is appreciated as years go by. This sentiment is reflected in Osler's statement regarding his approach to architecture. He said, "To be confident in the evaluation of the solution – to be merciless in self-criticism – to be continually struggling for improvement seems to me to be what it's all about. . . . There is always room for improvement – whether it be in the conception, details or execution. That's the great thing of this profession – the built in, assured and constant change."

David W. Osler received the Lifetime Service Award from the Huron Valley Chapter of the American Institute of Architects in 2000.

Mr. Osler passed away on September 8, 2014.

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