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Michigan Modern 2014

  • Dates: 19 – 21 Jun, 2014
  • Location: Grand Rapids, Michigan, United States
  • Website:
  • Phone: (517) 373-1630
Held in partnership with the Kendall College of Art and Design, the symposium will explore Michigan’s contribution to modern design and architecture.

Our goal through the Michigan Modern project is to:

  • Define Michigan’s role in the development of American modernism.
  • Rebrand Michigan based on its outstanding design heritage, which is less known but just as influential as its manufacturing heritage.
  • Develop a cultural heritage tourism initiative based on Michigan’s modern resources that will draw national and international attention.
  • Use the continued vitality of Michigan’s design industry to attract young, talented people to the state.
  • Raise awareness of the significance of modern resources and encourage their preservation and reuse.

Michigan Modern™ began in 2008 after when the SHPO received a Preserve America grant from the National Park Service.  The purpose of the project was to document and promote Michigan’s architectural and design heritage from 1940 to 1970. However, it soon became apparent that Michigan’s contributions to the development of Modernism began much earlier, just after the turn of the twentieth century.

The SHPO worked with consultants Eric Hill and Rob Yallop of Lord, Aeck & Sargent Architects (LAS) of Ann Arbor to develop a historic context narrative for Modernism in Michigan.  LAS surveyed and documented 100 of Michigan’s most significant modern resources. They prepared National Register of Historic Places nominations for eight homes that Michigan architects designed for themselves and their families. Four oral histories of period architects were recorded. The information has been incorporated into the Michigan Modern™ website.

In addition, SHPO is developing National Historic Landmark (NHL) nominations for three outstanding Michigan Modern™ resources: General Motors Technical Center in Warren by Eero Saarinen; Lafayette Park in Detroit by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe; and the McGregor Memorial Conference Center at Wayne State University in Detroit by Minoru Yamaskai. As part of the project, the SHPO has encouraged representatives in local communities to develop regional organizations dedicated to promoting their modern resources. 

We will continue to research, document, and promote Michigan’s Modern™ heritage for years to come.