GPHS Moorings Newsletters - page 125

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Robbie Robertson House
Alden Dow, architect
741 Middlesex, Grosse Pointe Park
Alden Dow was born in Midland and studied engineering
at the University of Michigan, planning on entering the
family business, Dow Chemical Company. After three
years in Ann Arbor, he transferred to Columbia
University to study architecture. He opened his architec-
tural office in 1934, after spending a memorable summer
with Frank Lloyd Wright.
The home on Middlesex reflects Dow’s philosophy of
“Composed Order”: The idea is to achieve harmony
among the people, materials, and ideas involved. The
home, the breezeway to the garage, and the landscape
combine to make this unique building design a dynamic
experience. The Unit Block System dominates Dow’s
design. He wanted to carry a bold geometric patter
through the house and into the garden outside. He cast
rhomboid blocks with square faces. One horizontal
course has blocks angled to the right, the following course
has them angled to the left.
Grosse Pointe Public Library
Marcel Breuer, architect
10 Kercheval Ave., Grosse Pointe Farms
In 1951, Dexter M. Ferry, Jr., announced his intention to
donate a building for a central library to be constructed
on the corner of the high school property at Fisher and
Kercheval. Marcel Breuer, a Hungarian-born architect,
one of the fathers of modernism, was commissioned to
design the building. He created a small, elegant structure,
two stories tall, with a front facade that was partly
unadorned brick to echo the traditions of Grosse Pointe
building materials, and partly a series of tall windows that
created a transparency inside and out.
Breuer did not want this to be just a repository of books,
but a repository of active discussion of ideas. The build-
ing was to feature a large cathedral-ceiling reading room,
a large children’s reading room, and reference and adult
reading rooms.
To preserve this landmark while creating the necessary
expansion for today’s needs, architects from the Boston
firm Design Labs tried to imagine how Breuer would
approach the project. Their expansion project will save
an architectural gem and create a thoughtful new struc-
ture onto the old.
Four Historic Plaques Awarded
At the Society’s Annual May Meeting, a special commemoration was held to honor
the more than 60 homes and buildings that have received historic plaques from the
Grosse Pointe Historical Society. Four new buildings were added to that illustrious
list.
Photos by John T. Woodhouse, Jr.
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