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    Modern Meanderings - Ann Arbor Mid-Centuries

    By sdonnelly
    Feb 9, '18 2:18 AM EST

    One of my favorite classes here at Taubman College has been my Fieldwork in American Modernism elective with Professor Sarah Rovang. This course focuses on the mid-century modernist architecture, architects, and other works of design from the 1920's-1960's within the Ann Arbor and greater Michigan region. Through this class I have become aware of the fantastic architecture within the Midwestern region and the designers behind their creation. Professor Rovang is not only a wealth of knowledge but is an equally enthusiastic, kind, and energizing individual who is able to get everyone engaged with the course and creates an environment where you not only enjoy what you learn but also desire to know more. 

    This week's class we did something special and went on a local field trip to conduct some Fieldwork in American Modernism right here in Ann Arbor. Our travel brought us to the Geddes neighborhood in the city, known for its beautiful homes and as a hub of mid-century modern residential architecture ,where the A2Modern Preservation Society gave us a personal in depth walking tour of the area. For the afternoon I walked through the snow and sunshine with my classmates listening to the stories behind each of these homes and the architects who designed them. Names like Osler, Munschsnheim, and Metcalf are mentioned and I make connections between them and what I see in class. There is something so wonderful and truly priceless in ones education about being able to take what I learn in the classroom and experience it in real life. This walking tour was doing just that, and I wish more classes would be able to engage the students the way Professor Rovang's does. 

    The last part of our walking tour was a personal tour of a mid-century home by the owners. This particular house was designed by Robert Metcalf, a former dean of Taubman College (1974-1986), and hihgly regarded modernist architect. He designed many homes in the Ann Arbor area and each is truly unique and stunning. This particular one of his was unique in that Metcalf designed and built the home in the 1950's and then helped renovate it in 2012, more then half a century later. The owners told us about Metcalf and how lucky they were to have him work on the home again. They described his excitement to be helping them, and even loved the changes the owners had made, noting them as only improvements upon his original design. I found myself reflecting on how rare it is to find people who invest so much time and effort into a home, fully giving their lifestyle and routine over to this mid-century house. The owners said that when talk with owners of other mid-century homes all have chosen to live to their death in them because of the feelings and complete sense of peace, warmth, and unity the design brings into their everyday lives. 

    The whole trip was a rich experience that so few people can say they did, and I am grateful to be in a class and with a professor who was able to facilitate this trip. I hope one day I can create at least one space that is so lasting, warm, and encompassing that someone would love to live in it till they pass. What an honor to be bestowed onto any designer. 



     
    • 1 Comment

    • michael@cnyhomebuyer.com

      I drive by Frank Lloyd Wright's house on Jewett Parkway in Buffalo NY often and am surprised how similar these house are to your pictures.  Wright was not necessarily known for this simple of a design but it did strike me.

      Nice Blog!

      Mike 
      www.cnyhomebuyer.com





      Apr 22, 18 4:55 pm

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About this Blog

The reflections, recollections, and insights from the viewpoint of a dual-masters student here at the University of Michigan's Taubman College of Architecture. My three year journey to obtain a Masters of Architecture and a Master of Urban Design has brought me, and will continue to take me, through some of the most incredible, toughest, happiest, and satisfying moments and experiences of my life. Please join me through the wanderlust that is my design and academic expedition.

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