About the Michigan Architectural Foundation

The Michigan Architectural Foundation is dedicated to advancing awareness of how architecture enriches our lives. Watch the video above to learn more.

Our Mission

Michigan Architectural Foundation is dedicated to the promotion, perpetuation and preservation of architecture as a fine art. By serving as a visible resource for funding, information and educational programs, we increase the public’s appreciation for architecture, which encourages cohesive, sustainable communities, increasing economic value, enriching experiences and adding beauty.

Celebrating 60 Years:
A brief look back at the history of the MAF

You could say the roots of the Michigan Architectural Foundation go back as far as the fur trade. The Michigan Society of Architects formed the MAF in 1957 to save the Biddle House, a Mackinac Island fur trader’s home dating back to the 18th century. “The organization saw an important artifact that was in dire need of repair,” explains MAF Vice President Tom Mathison. Saving the house became the catalyst, he notes, to establish the Foundation as the Society’s fundraising arm.

After contributing to the Biddle House restoration, the fledgling organization went into a dormant stage; it would be another historically significant building at risk that reactivated the MAF in the late 1980s. At a time when Detroit’s urban core was in decline, the Foundation stepped up and purchased the 1851 Beaubien House—one of the oldest remaining homes in Detroit—as the Society’s headquarters, setting an example for historic preservation and establishing a prominent downtown presence. “It was a bold and symbolic gesture,” suggests Mathison. “The architects of Michigan planted a flag and said, ‘We are here as part of the story to make Detroit a better place.’”

The MAF’s dormant days were over. The organization has broadened its scope ever since— awarding scholarships and public grants, developing educational materials for K-12 students, curating collections of architecture books, publishing Great Architecture of Michigan and more—to further its mission of “advancing public awareness and understanding of how architecture enriches life.” The Foundation hosted conferences in the 1990s to generate funds; today, contributions come from generous donors, fundraisers like the annual MAF golf outing and silent auction, and prudent investment of assets.

The organization continues to evolve, now with much more of a public presence reflected on the MAF board and in its programs. “It gives us a better perspective on how we can reach out to people in ways that are relevant to them,” Mathison explains. That has spurred MAF support of recent programs like the interactive Design Zone exhibition at the Midland Center for the Arts, and the Flat Lot public architecture project in downtown Flint. Mathison sees MAF continuing to build on this successful grassroots outreach. “We don’t want the MAF to be architects talking to ourselves,” he says. “Our mission is to engage the public. That happens when we’re out in the local communities, helping people understand, enact with, and appreciate the built environment around them.”

Contact Us


4219 Woodward Avenue, Suite 205
Detroit, Michigan 48201
Phone: 313.965.4100

Bob Washer, Hon. Aff. AIAMI
Phone: 248.789.5230
Email: washer_robert@sbcglobal.net

Tom Mathison, FAIA, REFP
Phone: 616.920.0545
Email: tom@mathisonarchitects.com

Evelyn Dougherty, Hon. Aff. AIAMI
Phone: 313.965.4100
Email: info@michiganarchitecturalfoundation.org