While much has been written about Alexander Girards textile designs for Herman Miller, the story of his Detroit period, encompassing interior and industrial design, exhibition curation and residential architecture, has not been told. During his time in Detroit (1937-53), Girard collaborated with modernist innovators Charles Eames, George Nelson, Minoru Yamasaki and Eero Saarinen on a variety of projects, defining modern style in post-war America. These included the For Modern Living exhibition (1949) at the Detroit Institute of Arts, the General Motors Technical Center (1945-56), and the private residences designed (1947-51) for himself and the Goodenough, McLucas, and Rieveschl families.
Perhaps surprisingly, Girard’s architectural projects were concentrated in the ultra-traditional Detroit suburb of Grosse Pointe, where he lived with his wife Susan and their two children. However, Girard’s residential designs, wood and glass, single-story structures, with open floor plans, built-in furniture and bold color accents, departed dramatically from the historically-inspired styles prevalent in Grosse Pointe. Sadly, Girard’s own house and the unique, multi-level Rieveschl house (Girard’s first “conversation pit”) have been lost to demolition. However, another Girard masterpiece, the only surviving house designed entirely by Girard, has been found: the residence of Mr. and Mrs. John McLucas. Restored in consultation with midcentury icon Ruth Adler Schnee, the McLucas house represents the culmination of Girard’s Detroit design work at midcentury. Rediscover the “mad men” era through original drawings and photographs of Girard’s Detroit architecture, documenting the mind of a modernist master at work, and a missing chapter in Girard scholarship. Deborah Lubera Kawsky, art historian, Ph.D., is currently completing a book on Alexander Girard’s Detroit architecture.
In addition to street parking, there is a free public parking garage located one block from CAMP, at the corner of S. Indian Canyon Drive and W. Baristo Road.