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Rediscovering Alexander Girard’s Residential Architecture (1947-51)

Deborah Lubera Kawsky will present on the midcentury modern residential projects of Alexander Girard in Grosse Pointe, MI, including his own. $10 (1 hr)


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During a 1949 visit to Detroit, illustrator Saul Steinberg was a guest in the home of Susan and Alexander Girard, which he described as “an architect’s own dream house.” Indeed, while Girard is best known for his boldly colored and patterned textiles, his architectural training was the foundation for every aspect of his career. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that Girard’s independent residential architectural projects, particularly those designed at midcentury in Michigan, represent the most cohesive expression of his design mastery. 
 
Between the years 1947-51, Girard designed private residences for his own family and for the Jackson, McLucas, and Rieveschl families in the ultra-traditional Detroit suburb of Grosse Pointe, MI. Featuring wood and glass structures, open floor plans, multi-level spaces, custom-designed furniture and bold color accents, Girard’s homes departed dramatically from their historically-inspired neighbors. Some have even questioned how Girard convinced his conservative clients to accept such “radical” domestic designs. 
 
Nevertheless, Steinberg’s descriptor “dream house” can be equally applied to Girard’s other Grosse Pointe homes, which embodied not only Girard’s core design principles but also the aspirations, both practical and aesthetic, of his clients. Sadly, only one of the houses designed entirely by Girard, the McLucas house, survives intact. However, Girard’s evolving design for each residence, documented in drawings, blueprints and photographs (some never seen before), demonstrate the architect’s expansive conception of architecture, integrating site, structure and interior into a cohesive whole. They also reveal Girard’s skill in addressing his clients’ needs, with the goal of enhancing life in the modern world. 
 
Girard’s sole surviving residential masterpiece, the McLucas house, is featured on Dwell.com
 
Immediately following the presentation, Ms. Kawsky will be signing copies of the book Alexander Girard, Architect: Creating Midcentury Modern Masterpieces.

$10

Things to Know

Immediately following the presentation, Ms. Kawsky will be signing copies of the book Alexander Girard, Architect: Creating Midcentury Modern Masterpieces.
This event is for all ages.
This event is wheelchair accessible.
The organizer of this event is Modernism Week.

 

Event Check-in Location

Modernism Week CAMP Theater, 230 Museum Way, Palm Springs, CA 92262

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Photo Credits: Alexander Girard in his Lothrop Home, 1953. Photographer: Andrew Plotchay. @2018 Girard Studio LLC. All rights reserved., View of the McLucas House, Grosse Pointe, MI. Architect: Alexander Girard. Photographer: James Haefner., Living Room of the Rieveschl House, Grosse Pointe, MI. Architects: Alexander Girard and William Kessler (later renovation). Photographer: Balthasar Korab. Courtesy Archives of Michigan.

 

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