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Michigan Modern™ is an ongoing project led by Michigan's State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) to document and celebrate the state's rich Modern design heritage.
After World War II, the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, under the leadership of architect Eliel Saarinen, attracted some of the world's best designers and artists. Coupled with the wealth and forward-looking design tradition of Michigan's booming automobile industry; the adoption of Modernist principles by the University of Michigan College of Architecture; the innovative design leadership of West Michigan's furniture industry led by Herman Miller, Inc.; and the strong base of pre-Modern work in Michigan by architects such as Alden B. Dow and Albert Kahn, Michigan provided an environment in which Modernism flourished in the mid-20th Century.
Outstanding Modern designers and architects that studied and worked in Michigan include Charles and Ray Eames, Alexander Girard, George Nelson, Eero and Eliel Saarinen, and Minoru Yamasaki. Michigan is home to outstanding Modern resources such as Eero Saarinen and Thomas Church's masterwork the General Motors Technical Center in Warren and Lafayette Park in Detroit noted by Dwell magazine to be "the single largest collection of Mies van de Rohe buildings in the world."
Michigan Modern is a growing documentation of the state's rich history of Modern design from 1940 to 1970. It continues to identify the Michigan-based architects and designers that championed the Modern Movement and capture their oral histories. In addition, it documents the Michigan work of renowned Modern architects, both those who grew up here and other who came to Michigan to study and practice their craft. Modern resources are being listed in the National Register of Historic Places to qualify them for preservation tax credits. A survey of Michigan's Modern architectural resources has been conducted and walking, biking, and driving tours created. Where to find this trove of research and knowledge? Start your exploration at www.MichiganModern.org!
Our goal through this project is to change how people view Michigan. The state's contribution to design has been as great as its contribution to manufacturing, yet it has been largely overlooked. By focusing on Michigan's dynamic and on-going design heritage, we hope this project will inspire a new audience to learn of the wealth of design history and opportunity that Michigan has to offer. The project seeks to inspire local communities and partners to look beyond traditional "history" and think more about how they have been shaped by the recent past.
Fifteen years after the Michigan Modern project kicked off in 2008, an all-new generation of MichiganModern.org has been deployed, gathering together the people and places that have made Michigan a leader in Modernism. From research resources to tours to photos, you'll find it all at
Recent Michigan Modern listings in the National Register of Historic Places (note, large file size may take a minute to load):