Welcome to West Michigan Modern documenting modern architecture and design throughout West Michigan!
Here are some of the highlights of the West Michigan Modern catalog of architects and building. We continue to research and add stories, so please check back to see some of the new discoveries we are excited about sharing. We also encourage you to let us know about buildings we may want to add to the catalog.
TEMPLE EMANUEL designed by Erich Mendelsohn
Temple Emanuel designed by internationally known architect Erich Mendelsohn is beautifully sited on East Fulton Street at the corner of Holmdene Street and across from the Aquinas College campus. Read more about Temple Emanuel
CITY HALL AND COUNTY ADMINISTRATION BUILDING DESIGNED BY SOM (SKIDMORE, OWENS & MERRILL) COMPLETED IN 1969
The International style 10-story City Hall, and 3-story County Administration Building, are modern steel structures clad in brown Canadian granite and bronzed glass, set back from the street on Vandenberg Center’s raised concrete plaza. Symmetrical, dark and rectangular, they share the plaza with the bright red Calder stabile “La Grand Vitesse,” and overlook the mid-century banks and commercial buildings constructed during 1960’s urban renewal. The County Building roof is covered with an Alexander Calder painting.
JAMES & SARAH KIRKPATRICK HOUSE, KALAMAZOO
The James and Sarah Kirkpatrick home (1958), designed by George Nelson and Gordon Chadwick, is located in Kalamazoo, Michigan. It was restored to its original beauty by David Corner, who spent ten years restoring it in every detail and furnished it with his collection of vintage modern furniture. The home was recently purchased by Detroit musician Jack White of the White Stripes and Third Man Records. To find out more link here: http://wmmodern.com/james-and-sarah-kirkpatrick-house/
HAROLD TURNER'S THORNAPPLE RIVER HOUSE
Thornapple River House (1947-1948) is located in the little community of Alaska, southeast of Grand Rapids. The summer house was designed and built by Harold Turner in the Usonian style for his wife’s relatives, Edna and Edward Hargrave. The Hargraves lived in what is now the Heritage Hill district in Grand Rapids, and owned the Mug and Muffin restaurant at 75 Division Street in the downtown area. They had purchased 11 acres with 600 feet of frontage on the Thornapple River to enjoy as they approached retirement. They hired Turner, a former master builder for Frank Lloyd Wright. Turner supervised construction of Usonian houses, includingthe Hanna, Goetsch-Winkler, Rebhuhn, Christie, Armstrong, Wall and Affleck Houses. In the 1940’s Turner lived in Bloomfield Hills, near Detroit.
GEORGE NAKASHIMA'S ORIGINS COLLECTION FOR Widdicomb FURNITURE BY CONTRIBUTING WRITER MELISSA FOX
The modern furniture of George Nakashima today is highly collectible. A survivor of the Japanese internment camps, Nakashima in 1943 set up a studio in New Hope, Pennsylvania, and began creating the designs that made him a recipient of the Gold Craftsmanship Medal from the American Institute of Art in 1952 and the Silver Medal of Honor in Design and Craftsmanship from the Architectural League of New York in 1960. In 1959, he designed the "Origins Collection" for the Widdicomb Furniture Company of Grand Rapids. Read more about Nakashima's "origins." http://wmmodern.com/design/#new-page-36
THE BLINN HOUSE designed BY E. JOHN KNAPP
The Blinn house was designed by Knapp for Marjorie Salzman Blinn, who grew up in Belding, Michigan, along with Knapp. read on for more details and photos.
LOST GRAND RAPIDS PRESS BUILDING
Two Grand Rapids Press buildings have been demolished. The Grand Rapids Press Building at 155 Monroe NW was completed in 1966. It was vacant after the Press moved and, in 2015, the building was torn down to make way for the Grand Rapids Biomedical Research Facility for the MSU College of Human Medicine nearly completed on the same site. Read more
The First Parade of Homes BY MELISSA FOX, CONTRIBUTING WRITER
This house on the first Parade of Homes was designed by Wayne McClure 1959. The Parade of Homes featured houses designed by a variety of architects and builders all located on Parade Street, a new cul-de-sac located off Monroe Avenue NE across from Riverside Park. With tents and amusements and tours, it was a very big and well-attended event. Homeowners came for entertainment and ideas. Follow the link to read more.
Check out the story about the innovative Park-School Development Program, beginning in 1951. The program achieved national acclaim from the American Institute of Landscape Archtects and Architectural Forum's National Committee of Architects working to solve the unprecedented post WWII postwar classroom shortage.
Link here to read more and view current and vintage images of the schools and parks. http://grandrapidsbuildings.com/grand-rapids-park-schools-19511961-1/