Alden B. Dow sought to create quality in all that he did. Whether designing a building, talking to a friend or spending time with his family, quality was a constant. “Each idea must be an expression of intimate care, a personal concern that all the details of the ‘Big Idea’ meet a standard of quality.” To obtain quality, he questioned, challenged and tested the world in a positive and constructive manner with Honesty, Humility and Enthusiasm. These three factors became the guiding principals in all areas of his life, personal and professional.
The son of Herbert and Grace Dow, he graduated from Midland High School. After visiting Japan, where he stayed in Frank Lloyd Wright’s Imperial Hotel, in 1923 he attended the University of Michigan to study engineering in preparation to enter his father’s company, Dow Chemical. But after three years, Dow left to study architecture at Columbia University and graduated in 1931.
Dow married Vada Bennett in 1931. Bennett, a daughter of Earl Bennett (an employee at Dow). After a year and a half of working with the architectural firm of Frantz and Spence in nearby Saginaw MI, Alden and Vada studied with Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin in Spring Green WI in the summer in 1933. After that, he opened his own design firm in 1934. He received the Diplome de Grand Prix at the 1937 Paris International Exposition for his own home as well as the John Whitman house. Dow was named the architect laureate of Michigan in 1983, shortly before his death.
Alden B. Dow was a man of his time, but created realities in architecture of the future. Innovative building practices merged with new, undefined materials allowing him to explore and create new solutions in architecture. By designing structures that reflected the way we truly live as humans, he created spaces that not only nurture and comfort us, but also awaken our minds and help us to develop our own individual creativity. His is a legacy that challenges us to look, examine and question the world, in the focused pursuit of the quality of life.