Modern Designers

Glen Paulsen

Design Profession: Architect

Building Types: Residential

Originally from Spooner, Wisconsin, Glen Paulsen began his architectural studies at the University of Illinois until World War II. After joining the military, he met his wife while stationed at Fort Belvoir in Washington, D.C. At the end of the war Paulsen completed his degree at the University of Pennsylvania, where he was awarded a bachelor of architecture degree in 1947. The following year he received a fellowship through the American Scandinavian Foundation to attend the Royal Academy of Art in Stockholm, Sweden, where he received a diploma in architecture and city planning.

When he returned to the United States, Paulsen took a position with Eero and Eliel Saarinen's architectural firm in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, before moving to New York City where he became architectural coordinator for the planning unit of Knoll Associates. While there, Paulsen worked directly under Florence Knoll on some of the most dynamic and innovative modern design projects of the time, including Knoll's first showroom for the Merchandise Mart in Chicago. Other work included the Alcoa headquarters in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in New York City.

Paulsen returned to Michigan to work as a senior designer in the office of Saarinen and Associates from 1953 to 1957. While there, he worked on projects like the General Motors Technical Center in Warren, Michigan; the United States Chancery in London, England; and Concordia College in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Though Paulsen eventually left the Saarinen office to establish his own architectural firm, Glen Paulsen Associates, he continued to collaborate with his friend Eero Saarinen. In 1956 Paulsen worked with the Saarinen firm on the design of the education wing for Christ Church Lutheran in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Paulsen began teaching at the University of Michigan School of Architecture in 1958 and continued to do so until 1965 when he was named head of the Cranbrook Academy of Art's architecture program. He became president of the Cranbrook Academy of Art in 1966, a position he held until 1971. After leaving Cranbrook, Paulsen's firm and the firm Tarapata, McMahon Associates merged to form the architectural firm Tarapata-MacMahon-Paulsen Associates, Inc. Paulsen then returned to teaching at the University of Michigan in 1975.


Over the course of his career Paulsen worked on a variety of his own projects involving interior design and architecture that continued to push the advancement of Modern design. Perhaps the most interesting, would be the design he completed in 1969; when he partnered with James Lucas and William Caudill of Caudill-Roweltte & Scott and Ted Larson, Dean of the Architecture School at the University of Michigan to design the Martin Luther King Domes at the Roeper City Country School. The domes were inspired by the Planning Tomorrow's Nursery School Structure Symposium, held in 1965, and incorporated the Dow Chemical Company's spiral generation system.

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