Most influential industrial architect of his day; known as the architect of Detroit. Pioneered the use of reinforced concrete in lieu of wood in walls, roofs, and supports. He applied this vision to the factory for the Packard Motor Car Company in 1903.
He worked for Mason and Rice while he was in his teens, then was awarded a scholarship to study in Europe for a year. In Europe, he became friends with Henry Bacon, future designer of the Lincoln Memorial.
He designed much of the University of Michigan, as well as the Ford plant where construction of the Model T was finished.
His father, Joseph, was a rabbi, while his mother, Rosalie, specialized in the creative musical arts. They moved to Detroit when he was 11.
His work on the Packard plant caught the eye of Henry Ford, who became a regular client.