Designing Detroit: Wirt Rowland and the Rise of Modern American Architecture

Michael G Smith (Author)
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Product Details

Wayne State University Press
Publish Date
April 17, 2017
8.3 X 1.6 X 10.0 inches | 4.0 pounds

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About the Author

Michael G. Smith is a Detroit-area architecture historian with an interest in early twentieth-century building and construction. His lifelong enthusiasm for the fine arts led to an early career as a graphic artist and, more recently, his photography work has been published internationally.


Michael G. Smith has produced a monumental, well-illustrated, and long-needed study of a remarkable figure of twentieth-century American architecture. Smith's thorough yet readable research uncovers the startling span and depth of Rowland's career within cultural, aesthetic, technical and professional contexts, ultimately defining the contribution of Detroit to modern American design.-- (01/09/2017)
Michael G. Smith has given Detroit and the wider architectural community a great gift with this engaging, meticulously researched biography of Wirt C. Rowland. Shamefully overlooked until now, Rowland was the prolific modernist behind the Motor City's most-exuberant Art Deco skyscrapers and an astonishing range of other designs.-- (01/09/2017)
Admirers of architect Wirt Rowland finally have the biography they were looking for. It was a long time coming.-- (05/17/2017)
Beautifully illustrated with images both historic and contemporary.--Suzanne Chessler"Detroit Jewish News" (06/09/2017)
Smith's encyclopedic knowledge of the life and work of Rowland is at its most impressive as he elucidates Rowland's disciplined use of complex geometry and dynamic symmetry in nearly all of his architectural design work, backing his claims regarding Rowland's creative process with a beyond convincing series of geometric illustrations superimposed over original Smith, Hinchman & Grylls architectural drawings...So there it is, folks, our official and unconditional endorsement. We encourage you to purchase a copy of "Designing Detroit Wirt Rowland and the Rise of Modern American Architecture" for yourself or another lover of Detroit-- (06/13/2017)
Designing Detroit: Wirt Rowland and the Rise of Modern American Architecture- Michael G. Smith (Wayne State University Press, $39.40)An ode to the unsung hero of Detroit architecture, Wirt Rowland served as chief designer under the famed architect Albert Kahn and designed many of the city's hallmark structures, such as the General Motors and First National Bank buildings.-- (07/11/2017)
The book will be important for architecture students, researchers, and practitioners as well as to general citizens and city leaders interested in the history of Detroit. Through an illustrative storytelling of Wirt C. Rowland and his three decades in Detroit's history, the book offers a critical insight into the architectural and urban scene of Detroit.It also outlines a greater need for historic conservation in the city to protect and celebrate its rich heritage in architecture and design.-- (01/18/2018)