Northwood University by Alden B. Dow
Northwood University as a physical place in Midland began with a Master Plan from the drawing board of Alden B. Dow in 1961. His firm was commissioned to get the initial buildings ready for students in just under six months. Over the course of the following year, a site plan was developed and a classroom building, dining hall, and men’s and women’s dormitories were the first structures to be built on the heavily-wooded campus.
The architect continued to put his stamp on the university as it grew during the 1960’s. Next came faculty housing and a gatehouse in 1963, followed by additions to the men’s and women’s dormitories, and a student activities building in 1964-65. Two more student-centered buildings appeared in 1966 and 1967 – a student union and Strosacker Library. He finished that decade with the design of the National Automobile Dealers Association Automotive Education Center, with contributions of N.A.D.A. members funding its construction.
In 1971 he proposed a Creative Discussion School in which two wings of radially organized discussion rooms were centered on a control desk. Although it was not built, he transferred the circular theme into the design of the Griswold Communications Center, which was built a year later. The circular facade of meeting room ‘pods’ of the Center marks it as one of the most distinctive building on campus.
His final architectural project for Northwood was to design the first permanent Automotive Hall of Fame. Built in 1975, the large front doors of the A.O.T. Hall of Fame opened to over 100 exhibits and displays celebrating the history of the automobile industry.
In recognition of his enduring impact on its growth and development, Northwood University conferred on Mr. Dow the honorary degree of Doctor of Humanities in 1969. And, to foster his commitment to innovation and creativity in future generations, the university established the Alden B. Dow Creativity Center in 1978, which continues today as the Alden B. Dow Center for Creativity and Enterprise.