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Labor and Economic Opportunity

State Historic Preservation Office receives national award for advocacy on behalf of modernism

Media Contact: Misty Miller

September 27, 2016


LANSING, MICH. – State Historic Preservation Officer Brian Conway and Michigan Modern Project Manager Amy Arnold were in New York City last week to accept the Modernism in America Advocacy Award of Excellence from Docomomo US, the US chapter of the International Committee for the documentation and conservation of buildings, sites, and neighborhoods of the modern movement.

“We are thrilled to receive this award from Docomomo,” said Conway. “To be recognized by this prestigious, national organization is an honor. This award demonstrates that we are succeeding in raising awareness on a national scale about Michigan’s significant contribution to design.”

The State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) received the award for its Michigan Modern project, an impressive research endeavor that began in 2009 and uncovered stories about the personalities that defined Modernism and shaped American life.

The research revealed the worldwide impact Michigan had in the development of Modernism through its automotive and furniture industries and educational institutions like Cranbrook and the University of Michigan School of Architecture. Many of the most famous names associated with modern design had roots in Michigan: Charles and Ray Eames, Eero Saarinen, Minoru Yamasaki and Ruth Adler-Schnee to name just a few.

SHPO brought the Michigan Modern story to the public by partnering with Cranbrook Center of Collections and Research and the Grand Rapids Art Museum on two exhibitions and two symposiums.

The project was transformed into a book, Michigan Modern: Design that Shaped America, which Conway and Arnold will officially launch in October with a free lecture series at Cranbrook. The 352-page book is a compilation of essays by leading scholars and writers on the subject and includes an array of stunning historic and contemporary illustrations.

Brian Conway

Michigan State Historic Preservation Officer Brian Conway (left) and Amy Arnold,Michigan Modern Project Manager, (center) accept the Modernism in America Advocacy Award of Excellence from Docomomo US at the Center for Architecture in New York City.

The State Historic Preservation Office is part of the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA), which provides financial and technical assistance through public and private partnerships to create and preserve decent, affordable housing for low- and moderate-income residents and to engage in community economic development activities to revitalize urban and rural communities.

*MSHDA's loans and operating expenses are financed through the sale of tax-exempt and taxable bonds as well as notes to private investors, not from state tax revenues. Proceeds are loaned at below-market interest rates to developers of rental housing, and help fund mortgages and home improvement loans. MSHDA also administers several federal housing programs. For more information, visit