On October 5, Cranbrook Archives will be opening its second exhibition in the From the Archives series. From the Archives: Forging Cranbrook’s Gatescape explores the long-lasting significance of gates to Cranbrook’s campus. Points of transition and transformation, the gates have also long stood as a public display of Cranbrook’s dedication to art and design.
Cranbrook’s love of gates originates with its founding father, George Gough Booth. Booth, who came from a family of copper and tin metal workers, received early training at the Red Foundry in Ontario, Canada. This, in part, led to his 1884 purchase of Barnum Wire and Iron Works in Windsor, Ontario with partner Fred Evans. Booth wrote, “I conceived the idea of creating a new type of industry – selling with my pencil and not so much out of a catalogue – making special designs for fences, signs, bank counter railings…” One of the earliest gates at Cranbrook designed by George Booth (and fabricated by Detroit Architectural Iron Works in 1916) is the first public gate located at the entrance to the Greek Theatre.
Since Booth’s inception of Cranbrook, the community has steadily expanded the campus’ “gatescape.” The most recent gates installed on campus are the “Valley Way” entrance gates (2012), designed by Architect-in-Residence William Massie. Located at what was formerly known as the Vaughan Road Entrance, the gates were part of a project which widened the roadway to improve vehicular and pedestrian safety. Working with Brian Oltrogge, Massie designed an abstraction of geometric triangles, a reference to Eliel Saarinen’s Kingswood gates. The new gates were fabricated of laser-cut and bent steel. The hand-bent “infill” was bolted to the steel frame and welded by Jody Cooper, Academy of Art alumni (Architecture Department 2012).
In conjunction with the exhibition opening, I’m going to be leading a walking and bus tour of the gates on Saturday, October 5. We’ll be exploring all aspects of the gates, from their history in situ to the designers and makers who produced them. Be sure to sign up here to join us, and get ready to delve deep into Cranbrook’s “gatescape”!
– Leslie S. Edwards, Head Archivist