Experiencing Great Architecture and Creative Built Environments

Posts tagged “Gardens

Turkel House and Garden (1955)

Frank Lloyd Wright, Architect

2760 West Seven Mile Road, Detroit MI 48221

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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.




Dow Gardens (1899-Present)

1809 Eastman Avenue, Midland, MI 48640

Aerial View and Directions

Map of Garden

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Visited September 24, 2011

The estate of Herbert Dow, Founder of Dow Chemical, has been transformed into a 110 acre garden open to the public. There are natural areas, manicured plantings, a children’s garden, a hedge maze, and carefully placed art and sculpture (including Leaping Gazelle by Marshall Fredericks).

There are several bright red bridges designed by Herbert’s son, architect Alden B. Dow, which span meandering streams and provide a stark contrast to the lush green background plantings. There are paved walkways, woodchip paths, and grass lawns to traverse. As you round the corner you may come upon a wedding ceremony – or two as I did.

The main reason I went to the garden was to get the view of Alden B. Dow’s Home and Studio from across the reflecting pond. (See separate post on the Alden B. Dow Home and Studio)

There is a contemporary conservatory building that you can walk thru. Although not as large or as vast a collection of unusual plants as most I have visited, there was a cage of bright yellow friendly birds greeting the visitors by the entry.

All in all it provided a beautiful relaxing place to wander through for the afternoon.

Logistics: there is a small admission charge ($5 when I visited) and there is a shop selling gardening related items with an extensive collections of gardening books at the entrance.

Click this link for the Dow Gardens Official Website

The Wave Field (1995)

Maya Lin, Designer

Ann Arbor, MI

on the North Campus of the University of Michigan

Aerial View and Map

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Visited July 16, 2011

Very difficult to find, and fairly unknown, this hidden sculpture is worth driving around the beautiful UofM north campus setting searching for  a parking space. It is not that all of the parking spaces are taken, there are no public parking spaces close to this courtyard. If you are quick, there is a 15 minute drop off area across Hayward street with a couple spaces.

The scuplture is well maintained (better than the maintenance of the building), and is an interesting experience so walk around and see the various patterns the rolling waves make.

Links to The Wave Field webpages:

The Wave Field on PBS