Norm Carver was born in 1928 in Kalamazoo. His design of the Carver Center and Parish Theatre (next door to the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts) reflects his family’s involvement in the Kalamazoo Civic Theatre.
He graduated from the Yale University School of Architecture and was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to study and photograph Japanese architecture, resulting in his book Form and Space in Japanese Architecture. A second Fulbright scholarship took him back to Japan, and to India in 1964. In all, Carver has written ten books about architecture around the world, from Japanese Folkhouses Italian Hilltowns to Silent Cities of Mexico and the Maya to Angkor, as recently as 2011. His design for a married student complex at Western Michigan University reflected his love of the Italian hill towns. Carver has lectured and taught at Yale, Harvard, MIT, Princeton, Michigan State University and was visiting professor at King Faisal University in Saudia Arabia.
Carver’s residential designs are found predominantly in Kalamazoo, Michigan. However that doesn’t tell the whole story. Carver designed the US Embassy in Seoul, Korea in 1955 (JW King Associate Architects) as well as homes along the lakeshore, in Ohio, New York, New Jersey, Virginia and California.Three of Norman Carver’s homes made Architectural Record House of the year in 1959, 1960 and 1961. Another house, designed for Mary and James Thorne, became the only home in Kalamazoo County besides the Frank Lloyd Wright Parkwyn Village homes to make it into the Buildings of the United States, Michigan volume in 1995.
You can find Carver homes in several areas in Kalamazoo, for example on the cul-de-sac Memory Lane, in his own development Carver Street where he rode horses as a boy, and near the Frank Lloyd Wright houses of Parkwyn Village, which he worked on as a young student.
With all of these awards and achievements, Norm Carver is glad that he has spent most of his life in Kalamazoo, because he believes Kalamazoo is just a great place to live with great educational institutions, the arts and wonderful interesting people. In fact, as a young architect Carver considered moving to California until family friend John Upjohn asked him to redesign his home on Gull Lake, and he never looked back.