Bricks are all around our built environment, and the ubiquity of brick buildings mask the humble material’s fascinating history and rich visual potential. Through the simple geometry of the rectangular brick, an endless array of creative structures and arresting designs can be created.
Cranbrook’s principal architect, Eliel Saarinen, was a master of brick design. His campus structures from the 1920s through the 1940s are almost universally built of load-bearing brick walls. Using a variety of colors, sizes, manufacturing techniques, and bonds (how bricks are stacked together), Saarinen’s Cranbrook is a showcase of brick brilliance. Later architects, like Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, extended the tradition of brick excellence at Cranbrook into the late 20th century.
In this lecture, Kevin Adkisson will introduce a brief history of bricks, and discuss the material’s manufacture and methods of bricklaying. The process of making a brick—procuring the clay, molding it into a form, and drying and firing the bricks—gives the material its visual and structural qualities. Once manufactured, the architect’s vision and the mason’s skill transform individual bricks into a building.
The focus of the talk will be on the multitude of creative and unique ways bricks have been used on Cranbrook’s campus. From brickyards in The Netherlands, Ohio, and Nebraska, an enormous variety of bricks were made-to-order for Cranbrook. Once the bricks were on site, Norwegian and American bricklayers executed with precision the careful patterns and structural acrobatics of the architects’ designs. Ultimately, the brick serves as the unit from which all of Cranbrook’s renowned architecture is composed.
The Uncovering Cranbrook Lecture Series give audiences an inside look at the many stories of Cranbrook from the staff of the Center for Collections and Research. The series highlights the people and personalities who helped shape our community and form the rich legacy of art, architecture, science, and education that define Cranbrook.
Accompanying In-Person Tour
Friday, October 29, 2021 | 10:30am—12:00pm ET
Friday, October 29, 2021 | 1:30—3:00pm ET
Tuesday, November 2, 2021 | 10:30am—12:00pm ET
Tuesday, November 2, 2021 | 1:30—3:00pm ET
$45, includes access to the October 25th The Bricks of Cranbrook: Humble Material, Monumental Design Lecture
Limited to 16 guests per tour
Presented by Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research
Kevin Adkisson, Curator, Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research
ABOUT THE ACCOMPANYING TOUR
After The Bricks of Cranbrook: Humble Material, Monumental Design lecture, join Kevin Adkisson on campus for an optional accompanying walking tour to study the bricks and buildings of Cranbrook in greater detail. While The Bricks of Cranbrook lecture will cover the history of bricks across campus through archival records, historic photographs, and new color photography, the walking tour focuses on the close examination of brickwork at Cranbrook Academy of Art, Cranbrook School, and the Williams Natatorium.
The 90-minute walking tour will take place rain or shine and start and end at Cranbrook Art Museum, located at 39221 Woodward Avenue, Bloomfield Hills, MI 48304. Guests must be able to walk and stand throughout most of the tour. The tour will include walking outdoors between campus buildings and multiple sets of stairs. Please arrive 10 minutes in advance of your tour time to check-in.
Each tour is limited to 16 guests and will sell out quickly.
All tours include admission to the virtual The Bricks of Cranbrook: Humble Material, Monumental Design lecture. Please specify in "Comments/Special Instructions" if you prefer the October 25, 2021, 11am or 7pm lecture.
ABOUT KEVIN ADKISSON
Curator for Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research Kevin Adkisson works on preservation, interpretation, and programming across the many buildings and treasures of Cranbrook. He presents a popular History of American Architecture Lecture Series each winter, and has curated a variety of exhibitions within Cranbrook House, Saarinen House, and the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Smith House. A native of Marietta, Georgia, Adkisson has his BA in Architecture from Yale and his MA from the University of Delaware’s Winterthur Program in American Material Culture, with a thesis examining the role of postmodernism in shopping mall architecture.
On the Friday prior to the lecture date, registered participants will receive an email with instructions on how to join the virtual experience; a reminder will be sent one hour prior to the start of the lecture. Each link is unique, and advance registration is required for all participants.
The lecture will begin promptly at its scheduled time and will be followed by a fifteen-minute Q&A session. The Center’s virtual auditorium will open fifteen minutes before the lecture begins for informal conversation and to permit participants time to test their Zoom connection.
The Uncovering Cranbrook Lecture Series is presented by Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research. For additional information, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a voice message at 248.645.3307.