News Stories

Constructing Gender

Most of us know that the Michigan Union was a built as a men’s club — women weren’t even allowed through the front door until 1956 — and that the Michigan League came 10 years later as a sister club for women. But few are aware of just how deliberately gender differences were built into the physical spaces of the Union and the League, both of which were designed by brothers Irving and Allen Pond.

The men were architects, graduates of U-M, and, in a strange coincidence, the Union was built on the site of their boyhood home.


Brothers Irving and Allen Pond. HS5860

A new exhibition by the Bentley Historical Library in January 2017, in collaboration with the University of Michigan Museum of Art, will explore how the design, fundraising, and construction of these legendary campus buildings not only reflected the era’s ideas about gender roles but also sometimes perpetuated them.

Learn more and see some photos featured in the exhibit at the University of Michigan Museum of Art’s website.