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The man who built Detroit: Lawrence Tech offers Albert Kahn exhibits, events

Albert Kahn, the man who designed Detroit’s powerhouse industrial buildings, is the focus of several events and exhibitions at Lawrence Technological University this winter.
In the first half of the 20th Century, Kahn (1869-1942) revolutionized the design of industrial buildings around the world, and his prolific architectural office also saw the production of many commercial, institutional, and residential structures of lasting significance. As the centennial of numerous Kahn landmarks draws near, there is renewed and well-deserved interest in Kahn’s work.
The Albert Kahn Research Coalition is collaborating with the LTU Library and the LTU College of Architecture and Design’s Lectures and Exhibitions Committee to present exciting public programming to highlight this innovative period in architectural history. Other partners in this coalition are the University of Michigan, the Belle Isle Conservancy, the Detroit Institute of Arts,
the Detroit Historical Society, and the Detroit-based design firm that bears the founder’s name, Albert Kahn Associates. The purpose of the coalition is to preserve Albert Kahn’s legacy and educate the community on the importance of his work.
The exhibitions open at Lawrence Tech on Friday, Feb. 3 with “Albert Kahn under Construction,” on display in the UTLC Gallery, 21000 W. Ten Mile Road, Southfield. This digital exhibition focuses on the remarkable archive of construction photographs assembled by Kahn’s firm as they built the powerhouses of American industry, from Highland Park to Willow Run. The gallery is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays and admission is free. This exhibit is curated by Claire Zimmerman, University of Michigan associate professor of architecture and history of art, and the LTU College of Architecture and Design Exhibitions and Lectures Committee, chaired by Diedre Hennebury, assistant professor of architecture and design.
On Thursday, Feb. 23, at 7 p.m., Joel Stone, Senior Curator at the Detroit Historical Society will speak on “The Ubiquitous Mr. Kahn: Albert Kahn’s Architectural Legacy” in the A200 Auditorium of Lawrence Tech’s Architecture Building. This presentation will examine Kahn’s career and the vast legacy of architectural treasures he created for the people of southeast Michigan. A gallery viewing and reception will follow. The lecture and reception are free and open to the public.
A partner exhibition will run from Friday, Feb. 17 through March 10 at LTU’s Detroit Center for Design + Technology, 4219 Woodward Ave., Detroit. In this midtown show, LTU’s College of Architecture and Design is partnering with the Belle Isle Conservancy for an exhibit titled “Albert Kahn at the Crossroads: The ‘Lost’ Belle Isle Aquarium and Horticultural Building Blueprints.” This compelling exhibit features several rediscovered blueprints from a private collection. Opened in 1904, the Belle Isle Aquarium is the oldest public aquarium in North America and the oldest aquarium-conservatory combination in the world. Independent architectural history scholar, Chris Meister and the Belle Isle Conservancy Historic Preservation Committee will provide a gallery talk Friday, Feb. 17 at 7:30 p.m. at the Detroit Center for Design + Technology. The talk will be part of a ticketed evening event called “Deeper Dive: Albert Kahn” hosted by the Belle Isle Conservancy and will discuss the development of the public aquarium and botanical conservatory as building types. Ticket information is available at www.belleisleconservancy.org/deeperdive.
The culminating program of the Albert Kahn series is the Albert Kahn Research Symposium from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Friday, March 3 at Lawrence Tech. During the morning, Zimmerman will moderate a series of presentations on current research about Kahn. After a luncheon, another panel examines “Restoration and Adaptive Reuse of Kahn Buildings,” moderated by Dawn Bilobran, who has roles with three organizations – the Belle Isle Conservancy, the Michigan Historic Preservation Network and Preservation Detroit. Panelists include Chris Meister; Alan Cobb, CEO of Albert Kahn Associates; and Donald Bauman, Director of Architectural Development and Historical Preservation at Albert Kahn Associates. The symposium will also include exhibit viewing, and an open house in LTU’s Albert Kahn Collection, which consists of Kahn’s personal library, originally part of Kahn’s New Center office. Its components were disassembled, moved, and reassembled inside rooms of the LTU Library in 1982. Visit www.ltu.edu/albertkahn or call (248) 204-3000 for information and registration.
Lawrence Technological University, www.ltu.edu, is a private university founded in 1932 that offers more than 100 programs through the doctoral level in its Colleges of Architecture and Design, Arts and Sciences, Engineering, and Management. PayScale lists Lawrence Tech among the nation’s top 100 universities for the salaries of its graduates, and U.S. News and World Report lists it in the top tier of best Midwestern universities. Students benefit from small class sizes and a real-world, hands-on, “theory and practice” education with an emphasis on leadership. Activities on Lawrence Tech’s 107-acre campus include more than 60 student organizations and NAIA varsity sports.

Film captures genius of Detroit-based architect Eero Saarinen


Fans of Detroit's architectural history are in for a treat this month as PBS-TV airs the documentary "Eero Saarinen: The Architect Who Saw the Future," as part of its acclaimed American Masters series.

Read more.

Farmington looks at historic resources


Driving around Farmington neighborhoods, looking at old houses and old buildings and taking photos of them.

To the non-initiated, it might seem bizarre.

That’s what Ron Campbell and his team were doing this summer. For them, it’s just another day at work. Campbell is a preservation architect with Main Street Oakland County. He and his team have been conducting a “reconnaissance-level” or drive-by survey to see if they can identify any additional Farmington homes and businesses that might be worth designating as historic.

Read more.

Flagstar Strand Theatre announces donor wall design competition

The newly renovated Flagstar Strand Theatre in Pontiac, Michigan is accepting artist proposals to design  an original work of art for the theater that will also function as a  donor recognition installation.  The Flagstar Strand Theatre is a dynamic live performing arts venue with a history that dates back to 1921.  The restored theater proudly acknowledges the heritage of Pontiac's talented jazz artists and musical gatherings from the 1930's through the 60's and incorporates  repurposed materials from the  former Pontiac Central High School in its reconstruction.  With ardent admiration for the city of Pontiac's musical and creative roots, the Flagstar Strand Theatre carries on to create a new legacy of arts and entertainment.

The commissioned donor wall will be installed in the theater's main foyer, facing the front entrance and greeting visitors as they enter.  All mediums will be considered, including those requiring a light source.  The design must take into consideration the public's ability to walk within close range of the wall and should extend no more than one foot out from the wall.  The design must also include the capability to  add donor names as necessary after final installation.

The dimensions include one large central wall, 10.14 ft. wide by 10.92 ft. tall.  In addition, there are two side panels, each measuring 3.6 ft. wide by 10.92 ft. tall.  The project does not necessarily need to fill up all of the space.  The commissioned design will receive an award of $10,000 for the fabrication and installation of the final project. 

Please include as much detailed information as possible in the design proposal.  Drawings, sketches, or computer generated designs should include descriptions of colors, dimensions, and materials.  Files must be sent as JPEG or PDF files, no larger than 2MB.  Label each attached document with the artist's last name, first name and design title.  Please include a brief narrative description of the proposed design and information  about the artist(s): CV, website, web links or images of similar previous work.

All design proposals must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. on November 1st.  For further information and to submit a proposal, please send an email to info@flagstarstrandtheatrepontiac.com

Ford C3 grant to Lawrence Tech aims to cut affordable housing cost in half

Lawrence Technological University has received a $25,000 Ford College Community Challenge grant that could revolutionize the production of affordable housing – starting with one new home in Pontiac.
The grant will help fund the construction of HOUSE02, a proof of concept home that will use the techniques developed over the past two years by LTU architecture professors Scott Shall, Jim Stevens, Ayodh Kamath, and Brian Oltrogge, and LTU architecture graduate students.
The goal is to build a home at a cost of $50 to $65 per square foot. That would put the cost of a modest, 1,000-square-foot home at $50,000 to $65,000 – not the $110,000 to $150,000 achieved through traditional construction methods, Shall said.
The techniques will make it more likely for affordable housing to attract financing on a large scale, as well. For a video of Lawrence Tech students and faculty discussing this issue, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8demrSIp0R0&feature=youtu.be.
The LTU professors and students worked with Habitat for Humanity of Oakland County on the research.
In addition to the Ford grant, an anonymous philanthropist has donated $6,000 and a city lot in Pontiac for the construction of HOUSE02.
“We’ve been working with students and professionals to figure out how digital fabrication can more rigorously inform the building delivery process used to make affordable housing,” Shall said. “Through our research, we have found ways to use computer simulation, digital fabrication, and products such as structural insulating panels and reclaimed material to reduce the cost and environmental footprint of affordable housing, as well as the time required to build the home.”
The Ford College Community Challenge (Ford C3) is a grant competition launched in 2008 when Ford Motor Company Fund reached out to its national network of colleges and universities and invited them to compete for grants based on local sustainability projects. Ford C3 works with partners in higher education that are focused on the critical areas of business, design and engineering. Ford C3 is designed to use school and company resources in creative ways, challenging schools and students to design projects that address pressing community needs and make more relevant connections with students. Ford C3 differs from many traditional college grant programs by requiring significant student input, involvement and leadership from beginning to end. As a result, winning proposals have a distinct student perspective on what it means to have a sustainable community. Ford C3 is an educational initiative of Ford Motor Company Fund, the philanthropic arm of Ford Motor Company. More details about the program and previous winners can be found at https://www.fordblueovalnetwork.org/ford-college-community-challenge.
Lawrence Technological University, www.ltu.edu, is a private university founded in 1932 that offers more than 100 programs through the doctoral level in its Colleges of Architecture and Design, Arts and Sciences, Engineering, and Management. PayScale lists Lawrence Tech among the nation’s top 100 universities for the salaries of its graduates, and U.S. News and World Report lists it in the top tier of best Midwestern universities. Students benefit from small class sizes and a real-world, hands-on, “theory and practice” education with an emphasis on leadership. Activities on Lawrence Tech’s 107-acre campus include more than 60 student organizations and NAIA varsity sports.
About Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services
Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services works with community and global partners to advance driving safety, education and community life. Ford Motor Company Fund has operated for more than 65 years with ongoing funding from Ford Motor Company. Ford Driving Skills for Life is free, interactive, hands-on safety training focused on skill development and driving techniques, while addressing inexperience, distractions and impaired driving. Innovation in education is encouraged through Ford Blue Oval Scholars, Ford Driving Dreams, Ford Next Generation Learning and other innovative programs that enhance high school learning and provide college scholarships and university grants. The Ford Volunteer Corps enlists more than 30,000 Ford employees and retirees each year to work on local projects that strengthen their communities and improve people’s lives in more than 40 countries around the world. For more information, visit http://community.ford.com.
About The Ford College Community Challenge
Through the Ford College Community Challenge, Ford Motor Company Fund aims to support colleges and universities as they work with students to design and develop tangible community projects that address critical local needs in new ways, with a focus on helping the community become a more sustainable place to work and live.

Lawrence Tech dedicates $16.9 million Taubman building on Southfield campus


Lawrence Technological University dedicated its new $16.9 million A. Alfred Taubman Engineering, Architecture and Life Sciences Complex at its Southfield campus.

The 36,700-square-foot, three-level structure contains laboratories, a glass atrium and a staircase enclosed by a three-story gray orb made of carbon-reinforced fiber that floats above a 1-foot deep reflecting pool.

Read more.

Engineering Center chosen for three more design and construction awards

As the Oakland University campus expands to meet the needs to students, faculty and the community, University planners and contractors are working to ensure that quality in design and construction is a top priority.
Three recent awards presented in recognition of one of the campus’ newest facilities highlight the University’s success in fulfilling that commitment.

The American Society of Civil Engineers’ (ASCE) Architectural Engineering Institute (AEI) has presented two awards honoring the design and construction of the Oakland University Engineering Center.

SmithGroupJJR, the University’s architectural and engineering firm on the Engineering Center project, won 2016 Awards of Merit for both mechanical systems design and electrical systems design utilized in the state-of-the-art, 127,000-square-foot classroom, laboratory and administrative facility.

The AEI competition singles out buildings that exhibit the highest levels of originality and innovative character, integration and collaboration, sustainability, energy efficiency and economics, effective use of technology, and constructability and site logistics.

A total of 15 AEI awards were presented this year to 11 architectural and engineering organizations from across the country. Oakland’s Engineering Center was the only Michigan facility to be recognized.

Earlier this month, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Michigan presented a 2016 Building Award to SmithGroupJJR and construction contractor Walbridge for their exceptional work on the Engineering Center.

This year’s AIA recognitions jury, composed of top leaders and honorees within the institute, praised the facility by saying that "a large and beautifully composed exterior expresses both the internal activities and building technologies."

Dedicated in the fall of 2014, the Engineering Center was built to accommodate rapidly growing enrollment in the School of Engineering and Computer Science. It was designed to provide students a wide variety of hands-on experiences in automotive and biological engineering, alternative energy, robotics and high-tech industrial sciences.

BASF: Changes in society, technology inspire future vehicle paint colors


The digitization of daily life will soon inspire new paint colors, with metallic blues, silver, and white hues becoming more popular, according to BASF in its annual automotive color trend report released today.

BASF, a global automobile supplier of industrial coatings and decorative paints and operates a large technical center in Southfield, offers predictions for 2020 and beyond, based on research by the company’s designers.

Read more.

Oakland County building designated as AT&T "fiber-ready"

As part of AT&T’s continuing effort to drive economic development and investment in Michigan, AT&T today joined representatives from the Troy Chamber of Commerce, HTC Global Services and both state and local elected officials to announce the Centennial is now designated AT&T Fiber Ready.

The AT&T Fiber Ready designation helps economic development leaders more effectively position their communities for site selection by emphasizing the availability of high-speed, fiber-based services. 
“I’m thrilled that we can now include the Centennial as part of a growing list of business locations in Michigan with access to AT&T’s fiber-optic infrastructure,” said Jim Murray, president of AT&T Michigan. “With a Fiber Ready designation, the Centennial can market itself to business leaders as a world-class building with access to all the tools businesses need to growth and thrive.”
In today’s world, connectivity is vital to new employers and businesses of every type.

AT&T has been deploying high-speed, fiber-optic infrastructure across Michigan for years, and the AT&T Fiber Ready designation was developed as a tool for economic development leaders to highlight the assets available in their facilities.

“In the business community, the communication infrastructure that connects us is just as crucial as the roads and bridges that serve the same purpose,” said Dane Slater, Mayor of Troy.  “When considering expansion or relocation, top-quality fiber optic infrastructure is always at the top of any business leader’s checklist. With the AT&T Fiber Ready designation, the Centennial now has the tools in place it needs to be competitive in attracting new business and investment to the area.”   
Deputy Oakland County Executive Matt Gibb echoed Slater’s remarks.
“Here in Oakland County, we have always made a tremendous effort to be a business-friendly community and I think it’s clear we’re succeeding on that front,” Gibb said. “State and local officials have worked hard to cultivate an environment where businesses can thrive, and with AT&T’s help, we’re taking Oakland County to new heights”
Local leaders were pleased to welcome Congressman Dave Trott (R-11) to today’s certification announcement. Trott noted the Fiber Ready designation helps shine a light on the high-tech infrastructure needs of today’s businesses.

“In today’s economy, business leaders increasingly need access to high-speed, reliable and secure internet connectivity,” Trott said. “With this Fiber Ready designation, the Centennial now has a communication infrastructure capable of attracting new high-tech, high-paying jobs to our area. This is good news for Troy and all of Southeast Michigan.” 

A glowing example of high-tech art from Lawrence Tech

A formerly blank white wall in a much-traveled lobby of Southfield Town Center is now home to high-tech art created by two students from Lawrence Technological University.

The 20-foot-long, 7-foot-tall sculpture, called “Hedron,” is a series of triangular Plexiglas sections held in place by wood framing.

As a statement of sustainability, the lights are power-saving LEDs, and the wood framing was recycled from another sculpture. The LEDs change color to add dynamic motion to the art.

"The idea was to take the simple geometric form and make an organic composition through repetition and distortion,” said one of the sculpture’s designers, Daniel Stack, a junior graphic design major from Farmington Hills.

Added the other designer, Alek Cummings, a junior graphic design major from White Lake: "As for the inspiration, I'd say it's inspired by the ‘80s … wild geometry and colors, but still pretty modern. It's kind of just to inspire happiness.”

Cummings added that he hopes the sculpture helps those who work at Town Center “forget about stress” at their jobs.

Phil Lucas, LTU student engagement coordinator, said he was contacted by the Southfield City Centre Advisory Board to put LTU students to work on public art installations.

Lucas, in turn, contacted Steven Coy, associate professor in LTU's College of Architecture and Design, who teaches a sculpture class each fall, and Coy's students got busy.

The result is two public art installations with a third coming soon.

Besides the glowing art in Town Center, Coy's students also created a set of hanging stainless steel orbs, pictured below, for the lobby of Arbor Lofts, a refurbished office building on Civic Center Drive that's now home to apartments, many of which are rented by students from nearby LTU.

And soon, they'll be working on a new art installation in an office and retail building on Evergreen Road, just north of 10 Mile Road.

“This is the first major public installation of its kind for LTU in this area, and hopefully the first of many more to come,” Lucas said. “It's part of the college town atmosphere we're trying to build and maintain in Southfield.”

Financial support from the project was provided by the Southfield City Centre as part of their efforts to create a vibrant mixed-use environment in the City Centre district. The Southfield Public Arts Commission also assisted in implementation and will ensure proper future maintenance of the art.

Kimberly Heslep, senior property manager for Town Center owner Transwestern, said the art is an example of the company being “a firm believer in supporting the community.”

First-ever Michigan Design Prize now taking entries


At more than 4,000 strong, Michigan has the highest concentration of industrial designers in the nation.

Yet few people know about it unless you live here, says Jeff DeBoer, chair of the Michigan Design Council and a principal at Sundberg-Ferar, a Michigan design firm.

Read more.

LTU students design new house for Habitat for Humanity

Lawrence Tech architecture graduate students in an advanced design studio are in the middle of a two-year project to create a new approach to housing design and construction for Habitat for Humanity of Oakland County that could become the standard for future construction.
Work on this project will be on display at the “Hall House Full Scale” exhibition running Dec. 8-18, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., in the Architecture building gallery (A210). 
The project began in the fall of 2014, and construction will finish soon after the prototype house’s foundation is poured in Commerce Township in the spring.
The task of designing a house to meet the needs of Habitat for Humanity clients has been embedded into the curriculum of this studio within the architecture master’s degree program at LTU.  Associate Professor Scott Shall and Associate Professor Jim Stevens are leading the advanced design studio and coordinating the project with Habitat for Humanity managers.
The graduate students have met with owners of Habitat for Humanity houses and will continue to seek feedback throughout the design process. They’ve also met with appraisers and others involved in the real estate market.
“The students are learning the value of listening by talking to more constituents than architects usually do, and they’re doing it at an earlier stage in the design process,” Shall said.
Habitat has asked the students to come up with a house design that reduces the environmental footprint and cost yet increases the functionality and appraisal value of a three-bedroom house with one and a half bathrooms.
The students are attempting to save time and money on the construction site by utilizing the digital fabrication equipment and approaches of the makeLab in LTU’s College of Architecture and Design. They are designing and constructing some of the more expensive elements of the house in advance such as walls where the utilities are located, kitchen and bathroom walls, and walls that have closets with built-in storage space.
Having those elements of the house built off-site and in advance should improve the efficiency of Habitat volunteer crews, especially during the winter months.  
The project was the subject of an interview on Michigan Public Radio.
Lawrence Technological University, www.ltu.edu, is a private university founded in 1932 that offers more than 100 programs through the doctoral level in Colleges of Architecture and Design, Arts and Sciences, Engineering, and Management. The Brookings Institution ranks Lawrence Tech fifth nationwide for boosting graduates’ earning power, PayScale lists it in the nation’s top 10 percent of universities for graduates’ salaries, and U.S. News and World Report places it in the top tier of best Midwestern universities. Students benefit from small class sizes and a real-world, hands-on, “theory and practice” education with an emphasis on leadership. Activities on Lawrence Tech’s 107-acre campus in Southfield, Michigan, include over 60 student organizations and NAIA varsity sports.

Curbed highlights Cranbrook's design legacy

In a stunning November 15 feature, Curbed's Patrick Sisson digs deep into the design legacy of one of metro Detroit's most important cultural institutions, the Cranbrook Academy of Art. From its handling of the school's origins to its profiles of its most famous faculty and students (names like Eames, Saarinen, Rapson, and Knoll), this piece is a must-read for any lover of modern design.


The legend of the Cranbrook Academy of Art, and its role as a prewar petri dish for American modernism, revolves around the brief period of time from roughly 1937 to 1941. Ray, Charles, and a host of future architects and designers crossed in and out of each other's paths, studying and teaching at the wooded campus roughly 25 miles north of Detroit. But Cranbrook's singularity didn't just stem from its collection of talent. An experiment in education by founder George Booth, a wealthy industrialist, his wife Ellen, and Eliel Saarinen, an eminent Finnish architect who designed the campus and served as the first president, Cranbrook was a new institution, a modern arts colony that reflected the times. The philosophies that Ray and her classmates picked up there could be considered the DNA of modern design: cross-disciplinary thought, organic forms, and a fidelity to experimentation and research.

Read more: Curbed

Ford 'Go Further' video series focuses on hometown nonprofit

As Ford wraps up their successful ‘Go Further’ short-film series, they turned to Detroit for a story about those emerging from homelessness. The video “Furnishing a Family’s Future in Detroit” focuses on the work of Humble Design.
Co-founded by Treger Strasberg in 2009, Humble Design is a nonprofit organization focused on providing home furnishings for deserving families leaving local homeless and abuse shelters.
As Strasberg says in the video, “I think home is where your family is and where you’re comfortable and where you can rest, you can rest and rebuild.” To date Humble Design has provided a brighter future for 575 families in the Metro-Detroit area. Astoundingly 99% of these families are still in their homes after a one-year period.
You can view the video on the Humble Design Facebook page, by searching “Furnishing a Family’s Future in Detroit” on YouTube or by clicking HERE.
Humble Design offers a plethora of ways to get involved including volunteer opportunities, organizing drives, donating or a group day of service. Strasberg later added, “We furnish three homes per week and reply on the kindness of others, not only in terms of donations, but on their desire to make Detroit a better place.”
If you have questions, are in need of more information or would like to request an interview with Humble Design, please visit www.humbledesign.org or contact David George at david@humbledesign.org.
Humble Design is a 501(c)3 organization dedicated to helping homeless families in need. Humble Design turns four bare walls into a clean, dignified and welcoming home by repurposing gently used household goods. Humble Design partners with local area homeless and abuse shelters to identify families who are emerging out of shelters. Many of theses families are victims of abuse and have left behind all personal items upon escaping and entering an emergency shelter. When these families move into their new residence, Humble Design comes in and makes their house a home! Giving them back their dignity and hope for the future!

Historical Society ready to show off museum renovations


Several months of hard work will pay off as a messy renovation project turns into a fresh new look for the Milford Historical Society Museum.

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58 Design Articles | Page: | Show All
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