Alden B. Dow created an entire architectural and design movement, and that legacy is available for public and private tours. Reservations for Alden B. Dow Home and Studio tours in Midland, Michigan are now available online, or by phone (1-866-315-7678).
Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1989, the Alden B. Dow Home and Studio reflects the imagination of mid-century modern architecture, reflective light, diverging angles, and bright colors. The space is also on the list of “The Top 25 Best Historic Homes in America” in Traditional Home Magazine.
Director of the Alden B. Dow Home and Studio, Craig McDonald, says the nearly 20,000 square foot space is kept as it was when Mrs. Vada Dow lived there, until her death in 1991. Alden Dow died in 1983. “It was Mrs. Dow’s wish, near the end of her life, that everything remain in the structure so that it could be shared and viewed,” McDonald says.
It was the couple’s hopes that the space would be accessible and serve as inspiration to the hard-working people of the region. The 1.5-hour-long tours provide a walkthrough of bright, bold colors, inviting natural light, and classic mid-century modern interior design styles scattered throughout the two level space. During the warm months, tours include an outdoor pond area, but on Saturdays during the winter, an underground tunnel element is featured. For COVID-safety reasons, each tour is limited to nine guests, accompanied by a staff or volunteer docent guide.
McDonald says Midland, Michigan is truly synonymous with design. “We have some really wonderful things here, but one of the most expansive elements of Midland is its architecture,” he says. “We have over 430 mid-century modern designs, and this whole movement was initiated by Alden Dow, who inspired other people to design in that time period. The idea was to think about buildings, how they relate to nature, and how they function for us as humans.”
The studio has also developed an app and website, Mid-Century Modern Midland, which shows photos of 430+ structures in the area, background info on designers, dates of design and build, etc. “You can see just how much was created in this relatively small town,” McDonald says.
Public tours are available Monday through Saturday at 2 p.m., with an additional tour on Friday-Saturday at 11 a.m. Private tours are available by appointment. Student and senior discounts are available. More here.
The National Building Museum will again partner with the Architecture & Design Film Festival to produce and host ADFF:DC in Washington, D.C., March 24-26.
The festival offers 12 feature-length films and a selection of short films from around the world that explore innovation and creativity in sustainability, historic preservation and adaptive reuse, as well as the important contributions of indigenous architects and the dynamic nature of design leadership.
Highlighted in this year’s festival are legendary icons like Frank Lloyd Wright and Marcel Breuer, renowned contemporary Danish architect Dorte Mandrup, in addition to other architects making their marks around the world. This is the first complete in-person program of the ADFF 2021/22 season in the US.
The festival begins with an Opening Night Celebration — Thursday, March 24, 6-9:30 p.m. More here.
Stuart Cohen offers an essay on the legacy of the architect, George Washington Maher, in the city of Evanston, Illinois.
"In the 1890s Maher worked for Joseph Lyman Silsbee, one of Chicago’s most respected residential architects, along with other apprentice architects who would become well-known: Frank Lloyd Wright; George Elmslie, who like Wright would go on to work for Louis Sullivan, becoming Sullivan’s chief assistant; and Irving Gill, who would build modern, precast concrete houses in California. Historians often lump Maher in with the group of architects who became known as the 'Prairie School.'”
This is a misunderstanding of Maher’s work. While he shared an interest in making open floor pans, Maher’s work was far more symmetrically composed, quirkier and idiosyncratic. His interiors were influenced by Louis Sullivan’s decorative work.
Maher believed that the detail elements of each building should be internally consistent. He wrote about this in essays on his “motif rhythm theory,” which involved the selection of a single nature-based pattern to be carried out in all the decorative elements of a house. These were inspired by indigenous plants and appeared in wood carved panels, mantle pieces, stained glass windows and wall stenciling as well as in cast metal work such as custom door hardware and light fixtures. Maher also repeated specific geometric shapes throughout his work, such as segmental arches which he used over doorways, window openings and fireplaces, as well as in the design of custom furniture such as cabinetry and chairs. " Read the entire essay here.
Join the Iowa Architectural Foundation (IAF) on April 2 for an in-person tour of two incredible historic buildings in Cedar Rapids, Iowa designed by famed Chicago architect, Louis Sullivan. Esteemed local historian, Mark Stoffer Hunter, will guide guests through St. Paul's United Methodist Church and The Peoples Savings Bank. The tour is from 2 to 3:45 p.m. Tickets are $20 and are available on Eventbrite.
The tours launch at the new Third Avenue entrance of St. Paul's Church, 1340 Third Ave. SE. Built in 1914, the church and neighboring house, where Sullivan resided while designing the building, offer a window into Sullivan's life late in his career. Stoffer Hunter will lead a tour of the outside, into the remodeled narthex and through the inspiring sanctuary.
Following the church tour, attendees will make their way to the Third Avenue entrance of The Peoples Savings Bank, 101 Third Ave. Built in 1911, the bank is known as the second of a number of small "jewel box" banks in the Midwest designed by Sullivan. Guests will be invited through the historic atrium, inside the amazing vault, and to visit the basement, a space rarely open to the public. More info here.
The School of Architecture is pleased to offer its Summer Immersion 2022 program for the second year in a row.
Over the course of 6 weeks (June 14 – July 25, 2022) the program will take place in Chicago and Wisconsin. Studio space for a series of design exercises led by TSOA faculty will be provided at the iconic architectural sites of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Wyoming Valley School in Spring Green and Mies van der Rohe’s Crown Hall at IIT. The TSOA Summer Immersion program will offer tours and events at a number of significant Frank Lloyd Wright buildings in Chicago and Wisconsin, as well as many other important cultural and architectural sites in the region. Included in the tours is exclusive access to privately-owned Wright homes that are not open to the public.
This program is open to adults of all ages who are interested in architecture and urbanism. A background in the field is not required. More info here.