Midwestern Modern: My Grandmother’s house

In honor of the holidays, I thought I’d share a more personal architectural experience as I spend the weekend avoiding studio with home-cooking, board games, and family. Built after her recovery from polio over 60 years ago, my grandma’s house was designed in the tradition of Alden B. Dow, a pupil of Frank Lloyd Wright. Given the ticky-tacky houses constructed for Dow Chemical workers that fill the rest of the quiet town of Midland Michigan, the modern house is quite a contrast. While its low profile turns itself away from the street, the interior is truly mid-century modern (with a local twist); soaring ceilings, built in furniture, and an open plan. Confined to a wheelchair since her recovery, the completely flat plan fits my grandmother, an artist in watercolors and clay, perfectly.

Midwestern Modern: My grandmother's house

Midwestern Modern: My grandmother’s house

Midwestern Modern: My grandmother's house

Midwestern Modern: My grandmother’s house

Midwestern Modern: My grandmother's house

Midwestern Modern: My grandmother’s house

Dow was a local architect, and had a huge influence in the region, designing over 70 homes and public buildings over the course of his career. While he was somewhat critical of Writght’s teachings, he followed the tenets of holistic design, considering everything down to the fixtures and furniture. I had a chance to visit his home and studio, a historical landmark, last summer.

See more about the Alden. B. Dow Home and Studio at ArchDaily:

http://www.archdaily.com/163106/

And thoughts on Michigan Modernism at Atlantic Cities:

“With the likes of Albert Kahn, Minoru Yamasaki, Eliel Saarinen, and Charles and Ray Eames all calling Michigan home at some point in their careers, the state is arguably long overdue for a look back on the innovations it gave to the rest of the design world.”

http://m.theatlanticcities.com/design/2013/05/visual-history-michigans-outsize-influence-american-modernism/5632/

Take that, Ohio!

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