Experiencing Great Architecture and Creative Built Environments

Posts tagged “Michigan Architecture

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.

 

Bravo!

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Meyer May House (1908)

Frank Lloyd Wright, Architect

450 Madison Avenue SE, Grand Rapids, MI

Aerial view and Directions

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Photos taken July 7, 2012

I have visited the Meyer May House several times over many years. I remember seeing presentations by Steelcase during the extensive restoration.  As  Wright’s houses are aging, changing hands as original owners pass, and with the cost of maintaining these unique structures,  the current condition of many of them are unfortunate and in many cases sad. The Meyer May House restoration’s attention to minute detail, with what seemed to be no expense spared, has resulted in an amazing step back in time to when the house was newly constructed and lived in by the May family.

Less streamlined than the earlier 1906 Robie House in Chicago, this Prairie House still has plenty of details, drama, and amazing art glass in the unique living room window arrangement to make it well worth a visit. If you take the tour, check out the living room fireplace brickwork with the horizontal mortar joints accented with special reflective tiles.

The house is in the Heritage Hill Historic District in Grand Rapids which is still mostly residential. This is an opportunity to see the house in context with the surroundings when it was built. Look at the neighboring houses along the street and you can appreciate how “new” and different Wright’s designs were at the time.

The most impressive bit of information on the house: the tours are free of charge

Click here for the Meyer May House website


St. Francis de Sales Muskegon – Interior (1964)

Marcel Breuer – Architect

2929 McKracken Street, Norton Shores, MI

Aerial view and Directions

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Visited July 6, 2012

Click here for the blog post of the exterior of this church


St. Francis de Sales Muskegon – Exterior (1964)

Marcel Breuer – Architect

2929 McKracken Street, Norton Shores, MI

Aerial view and Directions

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Visited July 6, 2012

This Marcel Breuer brutalist concrete edifice is a surprise find on a Muskegon Street. I was not actually surprised, as I traveled to Muskegon just to see this building. What is surprising is that this famous Jewish architect from Germany’s Bauhaus (who also designed the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York) designed this Catholic Church in Muskegon – and this building is relatively unknown.

I have posted some exterior photographs today, and will update this post with additional information and photos in a day or two. I also made arrangements to photograph the interior, and will post those photos separately.

Check back soon for more.

Click here for photos of the Interior


Alden B. Dow Buildings in Midland

Midland, MI

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All photos from September 24, 2011

As the son of the owner of the Dow Chemical Company, and an architect, Alden was the logical “choice” of Dow corporate executives that were building new residences. Luckly, Alden was a very talented and creative architect, otherwise the result could have been unfortunate for Midland!

Here is a selection of buildings in Midland that Alden designed.

The Midland Center for the Arts is the public building that leads this slideshow. The rest are all residences, just a sample of the many houses Alden designed in his hometown. There is an annual tour of Dow designed buildings, including the interiors of several residences, that I can recommend. I attended several years ago and that was well worth the visit.

You can see the heavy influence of Frank Lloyd Wright in Alden’s designs. This is understandable, as Alden attended Taliesin and was one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s apprentices in 1933. After his 8 month stay at Taliesin, and with an architectural degree from Columbia University, Alden returned to Midland and just started building. By driving around the upscale neighborhoods in Midland, you can pick out his distinctive designs (or do a quick internet search for some addresses).

Alden’s own Home and Studio has its own post, do not miss it, as it is truly an architectural masterpiece.