Experiencing Great Architecture and Creative Built Environments

-MI I-75 Roadtrip

Turkel House and Garden (1955)

Frank Lloyd Wright, Architect

2760 West Seven Mile Road, Detroit MI 48221

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The current owners have rescued the Dorothy Turkel House from near disintegration and oblivion.

I toured the house when it was for sale several years ago and I wanted to cry. It had been abandoned with the heat turned off in the middle of a Michigan winter. The toilets literally were cracked in half due to the water inside freezing. The water covered the floor and froze…creating mini ice rinks in the bathrooms. There were large cracks in the exterior walls, some of the wood paneling had water damage…I have to stop – as the memory of that day is too painful. I know, a little melodramatic, but it truly was sad. It was hard to imagine that anyone could actually rescue this treasure. A miracle happened. The current owners have slowly, purposefully, creatively and passionately rescued and restored this house. In fact with their garden ( dare I say ) they have made it better than it has ever been.

Originally the narrow Cherokee red concrete terrace and steps lead down to a grass lawn. Now the lawn has been replaced with an extension of the Cherokee red terrace. Along one side is a narrow pool with three bubbling fountains. Surrounding this extended terrace are multiple garden compositions, each with a unique personality, yet all work together. Interspersed are glass sculptures, silver balls-on-a-stick (my favorite) and a sculpture court with large wire spheres.

Inside, the two-story Music Room has been beautifully restored. The wood paneling looks great, and the owner’s art collection accents the space perfectly. I am happy to report that the toilets have been replaced and the bathroom floors are no longer covered with ice ( even after the last winter we had here in Detroit).

This is one of the most amazing comeback stories I have experienced – in architecture anyway.



Michigan Consolidated Gas Company Building (1962)

Minoru Yamasaki FAIA, Architect

One Woodward Avenue, Detroit MI 48226

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

McGregor Memorial Conference Center (1958)

Minoru Yamasaki Architect

On the campus of Wayne State University Detroit MI

Visited September 20 , 2013 as part of the Detroit Design Festival

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

One of Yamasaki’s early buildings ( and I think one of his best) is the McGregor Memorial Conference Center. It is located on the campus of Wayne State University, along with 3 other buildings by him designed and built later.

Click here for my photos from an architectural tour of the other Yamasaki buildings.

Guardian Building (1928)

Wirt C. Rowland, Architect

500 Griswold Detroit MI

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

While on my road trips I have my cameras with me at all times to capture the buildings I have made the pilgrimage to experience. While home in Detroit, I go past some of America’s great architectural treasures nearly every day. I have been in each of them countless times over the years and almost take them for granted. I do take visitors through them to show them off, but rarely do I think to bring my own camera.

Yesterday I was downtown and walked into the Guardian Building to be inspired. Of course my “big” camera was back home, but I took out my phone and tried to capture the experience with the camera in my phone. Consider these as just snapshots of this amazing colorful “Art Deco Mayan Revival” space. Hopefully this will be enough to tempt you to experience this for yourself the next time you are in Detroit. It is well worth the trip.

Check back for my description and comments on the building, but in the mean time enjoy the photographs.

Click here to view the Guardian Building’s website

Detroit Auto Show – The Displays – (2012)

The North American International Auto Show

Cobo Hall, Detroit MI

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Visited January 17, 2012

Not only do the auto companies invest in their product development, but they also have inspired designers creating dramatic auto show displays. These displays are elaborate concoctions – part architecture, part technology, and all temporary – constructed in a convention hall for a two week run. They are meant to reinforce the brand image, be a backdrop or pedestal for the cars, and above all draw people in. Here is a sample of the displays at this years North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Come next year!  There is a week long press-only preview, a Black-Tie Charity Preview on Friday night, and then it is open to the public Saturday morning through the following weekend. While in Detroit check out the other more permanent architectural treasures here. Click the “MI-Detroit” link in the column on the right and you will see some great options.

For more information, here is the official website.

Detroit Auto Show – The Cars – (2012)

The North American International Auto Show

Cobo Hall, Detroit, MI

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Taking a detour from strictly being an architectural tourist, design in Detroit also includes automobiles. I went to the Autoshow this week, as I do every year. In the Motor City, the North American International Auto Show is a highlight of the season. With the press preview, the new car introductions, the blacktie charity preview, and of course the public Autoshow where everyone gets to see the concept cars, productions cars, and great creative displays. The displays, which are actually high-tech architectural constructions, will be highlighted in my next post. Right now, it is time to feature some great automobile designs – both old and new. Enjoy, and look for the next post featuring the displays.

Smith House (1946)

Frank Lloyd Wright, Architect

5045 Pon Valley Road, Bloomfield Hills, MI

Aerial View and Map

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Photos taken January 7, 2012

The Smith House is a great example of Wright’s Usonian Houses. It is a more refined version of the first Jacobs House in Madison. Situated in the upscale Detroit suburb of Bloomfield Hills, this rather modest house is surrounded by huge mansions of the more traditional style.

The low, horizontal composition hugs the earth and extends across the site with the brick garden walls. The owner’s large scale sculpture collection still graces the grounds and provides a nice visual break from the otherwise austentatious bigger than big neighbors.

This house is visible from the street, with a complete view of the front and north side facades across the lawn. The Smith House gives you a clear view of a pristine example his Usonian House concept. Well worth the trip if you are in the area. It is just down the street from the Cranbrook Educational Community with it’s original Saarinen designed campus, and close by is Wright’s Affleck House.