GRAND RAPIDS ARCHITECTS AND BUILDINGS
RESEARCH, TEXT AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY PAM VANDERPLOEG, EXCEPT WHERE OTHERWISE NOTED. COPYRIGHT 2017.
Architects and their buildings is a new and an evolving section of the website. The Grand Rapids Buildings archive contains information linking over 3,000 homes and buildings to architects and builders. Here is just a sample.
E. John Knapp designed the Lafayette Medical Building shown here photographed in 2016. He was born in 1916 and today lives in Missouri. For more on E. John Knapp check out my website ejohnknapp.com
Knapp designed the Lafayette Medical Building in 1961, a wonderful modern building with floor to ceiling glass windows and exterior panels of tiny tiles designed and installed by an Italian tile artisan from Detroit. This building is in real trouble. The exterior was recently painted over tile and all in a light color paint and the structure is deteriorating.
Roger Allen was born in 1892 and after practicing many years with his father as F.P. Allen and son, established his Roger Allen Associates. A founding member of the Grand Rapids Architecture Club, he was also known as a humorist and speaker and became the Central Michigan University Architect. The Public Museum is one of Grand Rapids most iconic landmarks, an art deco building of brilliant stone blocks and narrow vertical rows of glass block windows with inset windows on the main level for display. It was completed in 1939. Today the Public Museum is housed in a contemporary building on the west side of the Grand River at Pearl Street. The future of the earlier iconic moderne building is assured as this building is going to be restored to house the upper grades of the Grand Rapids Public Schools Museum School.
Grand Rapids architect Robert S. Amor, whose offices were located in this modern commercial building on Lake Drive (link here) , designed several homes on the lakeshore including Tree Tops. Born in 1933, Amor studied architecture at the University of Michigan and his sons followed in his footsteps. Amor worked in product design for Ford Motor ad then for various firms including the Daverman firm in Grand Rapids before heading up his own practice.
Edgar Firant, A.I.A., born in 1917 in Oak Park, was an award-winning Grand Rapids church architect who attended Illinois Institute of Technology (then the Armour Institute). Mies van de Rohe was his teacher and mentor. Firant designed this home on Reeds Lake for his brother-in-law Dr. Swanson. Read more about Edgar Firant http://wmmodern.com/meet-the-architect-edgar-r-firant/
Coming in December: The homes of Fannie Boylon, an early self-trained Grand Rapids architect.
Designed by Wilifred McLaughlin, A.I.A., who was born in 1892 and graduated from the University of Michigan. After working for firms in South Bend, and in Grand Rapids as Benjamin and McLaughlin, he established his own firm. In 1949, McLaughlin completed this moderne/art deco building to house the Davenport Institute with stores on the main level. McLaughlin designed many attractive ranch style homes before his death in 1960. To view an interesting Lakeshore home by McLaughlin, link here http://wmmodern.com/sebastian-family-cottage-grand-haven-township/
David Post, AIA was born in 1926 in Grand Rapids and studied architecture at the University of Michigan. He worked for Daverman Associates before starting his own firm, eventually becoming Post, McMillen and Palmer. The Words of Hope Building on Ball Avenue NE is a beautiful concrete and glass building that sits as a kind of beacon on an elevated site on the north side of Highway I-196 as you head west into downtown.
Frederick Robinson, AIA, and Antoine Campa, AIA, are credited with the design of the Grand Rapids Civic Auditorium work partnering with Smith, Hinchman and Grylls of Detroit. Frederick Robison graduated from Cornell University and Antoine Campau graduated from MIT. He joined W. G. Robinson and Son (also known as Robinson and Robinson) in 1906 and became a full partner in 1908 following the elder Robinson's death. Read more about the Civic Auditorium http://grandrapidsbuildings.com/civic-auditorium/
The Kinglsey Building, currently undergoing renovation was designed by Chicago architect George Kingsley. More to follow on this architect.
The Castle was designed by W. G. Robinson for the wealthy Fox Brothers who decided they'd like to live like kings. Robinson was a self-trained architect who worked first with early architect Ruben Wheeler and then, beginning in 1872, led his own practice from a downtown office. In 1895, he added his son Frederick Robinson as a partner. The Castle is on the National Register of Historic Homes and is located at the corner of College and Cherry in the heart of the Heritage Hill Historic District.
This East Grand Rapids home was designed by architects H. H. Weemhoff and Adrian Benjamin. Benjamin was an extremely prolific architect who designed hundreds of Grand Rapids homes in partnership with his father Thomas Benjamin and Benjamin & Son. He also worked with the Navy during WWI to design prefab military buildings and represented, in Washington, D.C., the Togan-Stiles Prefab Company (builder of prefab war-time housing, bungalows, cottages and garages in kits) . For a short time he partnered with H. H. Weemhoff, especially well-known for the design of many Grand Rapids churches. It was during this time that they designed this stunning castle style home that was recently listed for sale.
Charles Norton designed many high-end homes in East Grand Rapids, Cascadia and the Ottawa Hills area. The homes he designed vary in style, but he created a large body of work in the distinctive French eclectic style including the home in the photo. He practiced with Harry L. Mead in offices at 545 Lafayette. He died in 1971.
The D.A. Blodgett Home, in the trendy Cherry Street neighborhood, was designed by Chicago architect Asbury D. Buckley, and gloriously restored about 10 years ago by the Inner City Christian Federation.
This photo is of the collapsing greenhouse on the Stone Hills Estate. The original house on the property was designed for Frank Stone by architect George L. Stone. An arched gate take you into a long tunnel, the approach to the rambling estate with an amazing overlook on the city. Look for more of this story to come.