The Midland Macromolecular Institute by Alden B. Dow

In 1967, the Michigan Foundation for Advanced Research announced plans to sponsor a laboratory in Midland to be devoted to research and the advanced training of scientists in the field of macromolecular study. The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation was one of the three foundations to provide funding for the Institute, and the building housing it was designed by Alden B. Dow.

The site chosen for MMI was intentional and part of the “creative center” of the city envisioned by the architect. As he wrote:

“The nearness of this laboratory to the Midland Center for the Arts, the Municipal Library and the Dow Gardens should add to the stimulus resulting from the close relationship of science and art. The attempt here is to show that every art has a science and every science an art. Art is feeling … science is fact.”

Ground was broken in the spring of 1970 and the $1.7 million facility was completed in July 1971. Dedication ceremonies were held on September 28, 1972, and attended by more than 400 scientists from throughout the world.

The building is composed around a central research library from which 13 laboratories and 14 offices radiate. The laboratories connect with each other and all have a large floor to ceiling window in the corner that gives the scientists a view of the wooded surroundings outside. Other areas include a large lecture hall, seminar room, computer room, recreation room/cafeteria, and even a four-room apartment for a visiting scientist. The free relationship of the parts of the building to each other, Mr. Dow believed, would make it a stimulating place for discoveries.

By 2015, changes in funding in the research industry made it harder to secure the government contracts that were an important source of the Institute’s funding, which ultimately led to its closure. However, the building is still fulfilling its original scientific mission by serving today as the home of the Michigan State University STEM Center.

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