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  • Writer's pictureTravis Fader

Ann Arbor home incorporates an idyllic balance of natural and artificial lighting

Updated: Aug 8, 2022


In 1954 University of Michigan professor, Dr. Robert Boyd, had a home created at 3612 E. Huron River Drive that perfectly incorporates a balance between natural and artificial lighting. As director of the University daylighting laboratory, Boyd had researched ways to achieve this objective and then incorporated this knowledge into the overall design of his home. To realize this desire, Boyd turned to a brilliant artist based in Missouri, renowned architect Harris Armstrong and local Ann Arbor contractor, Gerald Marsh.


Harris Armstrong was widely recognized as the dean of the modern movement in the St. Louis, Missouri. Known as the first architect to design and erect a building in the full-fledged international style, Armstrong became and remained one of the leaders in the profession, turning out a series of carefully considered designs for buildings of all types that equaled the best in the nation. The house designed for Mr. and Mrs. Boyd is no exception.


Photography © The Ann Arbor News


The Boyd House (or better known as the Daylight Research House) includes many glass concepts that were new for its day- such as prismatic glass block skylights and walls which make the home free of dark corners and glare from artificial lighting. Additionally, the prismatic glass blocks reflect glare and heat in summer and admit them in winter.


Privacy from road traffic, and a bit of intrigue, is achieved through a floor-to-ceiling redwood brick wall in one section of the home with prismatic blocks set in perforated small holes to admit adequate light.

Photography © The Ann Arbor News


To help achieve Boyd’s desire for balanced artificial light, he designed a series of lamps and overhead lights to supply adequate brightness without glare. These lights were connected to a switch system that could either turn on or off every light in the house at once. Additionally, much of the home is paneled to further help balance light.



While the Boyd house has been termed “The Daylight Research Home”, beauty has not been sacrificed, but rather emphasized.


Photography © The Ann Arbor News


Currently listed by Michael Penn, The More Group MI

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