The Haley Funeral Home in Southfield, Michigan, designed in 1960 and completed in 1961, is the earliest building designed by the firm of Gunnar Birkerts and Associates, and was one of Mr. Birkerts’ first projects independent of his Birkerts and Straub partnership. The Haley Funeral Home and University Reformed Church are the only two buildings by the Birkerts and Straub firm which are housed in the collection of Gunnar Birkerts and Associates, founded later in 1963. With its steep, hipped, overhanging roofs which express the function and location of the three main chapels within, the Haley Funeral Home recalls the traditional cemetery structures of the architect’s Nordic heritage. The sheltering eaves and narrow, projecting windows contribute to the psychological sense of serenity, protection and separation engendered by the design. Although the symmetry of this building reflects the influence of Minoru Yamasaki in Mr. Birkerts’ earliest work, a study of later projects in the Gunnar Birkerts and Associates Collection will show a gradual progression towards his signature, organic asymmetry of design.
Bund, Sally L. Finding Aid for Gunnar Birkerts Papers, 1930-2002: Haley Funeral Home, Southfield, Michigan, 1960-1985. Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.