Thanks for the View, Mr. Mies: Lafayette Park, Detroit
Danielle Aubert, Lana Cavar and Natasha Chandani, editors
New York, NY: Metropolis Books, 2012
The image of Pruitt-Igoe has dominated much of the discussion about public housing in the last 4 or so decades as an example of failed architecture. The recent documentary about that St. Louis project and now this new publication about Lafayette Park in Detroit have begun to cast a different view. Unlike Pruitt-Igoe, Lafayette Park, the work of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Ludwig Hilbersheimer and Alfred Caldwell was and is a successful project. The complex, which in its initial plan was to be much larger, consists of high rises, townhouses and a variety of amenities. Aside from the buildings designed by Mies other structures were added to the design of mostly Michigan architects. Gunnar Birkerts building across the street, 1300 Lafayette East is often considered part of this development. The book, which includes plans and detailed information about the different structures, gives through interviews with residents and occupants provides a glimpse into how the project evolved and why it remains successful today.