URBAN STUDIES AND THEORY

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METROPOLIS BOOKS

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Paperback, 6.5 x 9.5 in. / 288 pgs / illustrated throughout.

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PUB DATE 10/31/2012
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CATALOG: FALL 2012 p. 38   

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"The collision between Mies’s purer-than-pure modernism and the realities of Detroit is both comic and tragic – surprising, disturbing and, finally, inspiring."
Robert Fishman, Taubman College of Architecture and Planning, University of Michigan

"…Life in the Towers was fabulous from the minute tenants started moving in, in the early sixties. The last of the Mies-designed buildings to be completed in Lafayette Park, they were able to capitalize on the progressive spirit of the area to attract a younger and sophisticated tenant eager to immerse him- or herself in a modern way of living. Without the burden of home ownership or co-operative membership, however, residents of the Towers were less invested in the bold social experiment of urban renewal than their neighbors in the townhouses.
By all accounts, they were instead invested in modern living that included an enormous amount of partying. When I told a friend’s father I was moving in, his first reaction was, “There used to be cocktail parties there all the time in the sixties and seventies. That was the place to be.”
To anyone who has visited the Towers this should come as no surprise. The grand lobby with its soaring double-height ceilings, marble-clad walls and Barcelona chair suite strikes a glamorous note from moment you enter. The apartments are ideally suited for entertaining with their stellar views and generous living rooms, and all feature a credenza-like ventilation unit along the base of the windows that functions beautifully as wrap-around seating. From the moment I first toured the Towers, a full year before I actually looked at apartments in earnest, I was planning my big housewarming soiree. And I’m not even someone who particularly enjoys having people into my home."

Joe Posch, excerpted from his essay, "Aesthetic Mismanagement of the Lafayette Towers," reproduced in Thanks for the View Mr. Mies.

  

PUBLISHERS > METROPOLIS BOOKS

Thanks for the View, Mr. Mies

Lafayette Park, Detroit

Published by Metropolis Books
Edited and with text by Danielle Aubert, Lana Cavar, Natasha Chandani | Placement.

Featured image, of a townhouse block in Lafayette Park, is reproduced from <I>Thanks for the View, Mr. Mies</I>.Lafayette Park, an affordable middle-class residential area in downtown Detroit, is home to the largest collection of buildings designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe in the world. Today, it is one of Detroit’s most racially integrated and economically stable neighborhoods, although it is surrounded by evidence of a city in financial distress. Through interviews with and essays by residents; reproductions of archival material; and new photographs by Karin Jobst, Vasco Roma, and Corine Vermeulen, and previously unpublished photographs by documentary filmmaker Janine Debanné, Thanks for the View, Mr. Mies examines the way that Lafayette Park residents confront and interact with this unique modernist environment. Lafayette Park has not received the level of international attention that other similar projects by Mies have. This may be due in part to its location in Detroit, a city whose most positive qualities are often overlooked in the media. This book is a reaction against the way that iconic modernist architecture is often represented. Whereas other writers may focus on the design intentions of the architect, authors Aubert, Cavar and Chandani seek to show the organic and idiosyncratic ways that the people who live in Lafayette Park actually use the architecture and how this experience, in turn, affects their everyday lives. While there are many publications about abandoned buildings in Detroit and about the city’s prosperous past, this book is about a remarkable part of the city as it exists today, in the twenty-first century.

Thanks for the View, Mr. Mies is a superb field guide to the diverse cross-section of inhabitants, the variety of habitats they have constructed within their brilliant biome, the lush and abundant flora and the ground fauna of Lafayette Park. The variety of environments created by each particular species in their words, actions and images is a joy to behold. And like the best field guides, wonderfully instructive.” – Phyllis Lambert, founder, Canadian Centre for Architecture

“This beautiful and wonderfully ambitious book tells the comprehensive story of a unique place – Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s magnificent modernist vision built in the midst of a city undergoing the worst of the urban crisis. The story is told through a collage of archival records, insightful essays and, above all, interviews with the residents and photographs of what they have made of Mies. The collision between Mies’s purer-than-pure modernism and the realities of Detroit is both comic and tragic – surprising, disturbing and, finally, inspiring.” – Robert Fishman, Taubman College of Architecture and Planning, University of Michigan

Thanks for the View is a surprising paean to human passion and idiosyncrasy, terms not usually associated with the International Style or the architecture of Mies van der Rohe – which in large part is what makes this book all the more welcome. As charming as it is well researched, Thanks for the View celebrates the mutual effect that Mies’s Lafayette Park and its longtime residents have had on each other and, by extension, on the city of Detroit.” – Joe Scanlan, Visual Arts Program, Princeton University

Featured images — of the towers circa 1964; an undated picture of the pool between the towers (currently closed) by John Comazzi; a sofa in the high-rise Pavilion lobby, photographed by Karin Jobst; retired Detroit public school principal Neil McEachern at home in his townhouse, photographed by Vasco Roma; Jeoffrey Dale Hagan (aka "Gandhi") sitting near the curtain wall of his high-rise apartment, photographed by Janine Debanné; and a 2011 "Mies-ter" egg hunt in the Meadow surrounding the townhouses — are reproduced from Thanks for the View, Mr. Mies.

FROM THE ARTBOOK BLOG

CORY REYNOLDS | DATE 11/9/2012

Gaze: Photographing Detroit

Gaze: Photographing Detroit
On Monday evening, November 12, at 6:30 PM,
the Columbia Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation presents the panel discussion,
Gaze: Photographing Detroit, featuring
Danielle Aubert (Thanks for the View, Mr. Mies),
Andrew Moore (Detroit Disassembled) and
Camilo Jose Vergara (American Ruins) with
Robert Beauregard, Columbia University GSAPP, and
Andrew Herscher, University of Michigan.

continue to blog


FROM THE ARTBOOK BLOG

CORY REYNOLDS | DATE 9/25/2012

Thanks for the View, Mr. Mies Preview Party

Thanks for the View, Mr. Mies Preview Party
METROPOLIS BOOKS invites you to a preview party for
Thanks for the View, Mr. Mies
by Danielle Aubert, Lana Cavar
and Natasha Chandani.
continue to blog


FROM THE ARTBOOK BLOG

CORY REYNOLDS | DATE 10/4/2012

Home Sweet Architectural Masterpiece: Thanks for the View, Mr. Mies Featured in The New York Times

Home Sweet Architectural Masterpiece: Thanks for the View, Mr. Mies Featured in The New York Times
In today's New York Times (Home Section), Alexandra Lange interviews Lafayette Park resident Jacqueline Neal on her experience living in Mies van der Rohe's Detroit architectural masterpiece, as detailed in the new METROPOLIS book.
continue to blog


FROM THE ARTBOOK BLOG

CORY REYNOLDS | DATE 10/25/2012

Visit ARTBOOK | D.A.P. and Metropolis Books at the Designers & Books Fair 2012

Visit ARTBOOK | D.A.P. and Metropolis Books at the Designers & Books Fair 2012Join ARTBOOK | D.A.P. and Metropolis Books at the inaugural Designers & Books Fair, featuring a robust lecture pogram on such topics as Bikes & Books, Book Design at Pentagram, Chinese Design Culture and advances in Digital Publishing. Speakers include Irma Boom, Karim Rashid, Donna Karan, Paul Goldberger, Steven Heller and Richard Meier to name just a few.
Our booth features a range of design titles from the world's finest museums and independent publishers—including MoMA, Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, the Walker Art Center and NAi—alongside Metropolis bestsellers like the new release, Thanks for the View, Mr. Mies, above, designed and edited by Danielle Aubert, Lana Cavar and Natasha Chandani | Placement. continue to blog


FROM THE ARTBOOK BLOG

CORY REYNOLDS | DATE 10/10/2012

Coolest Architecture Book of the Year Launches in New York: Thanks for the View, Mr. Mies

Coolest Architecture Book of the Year Launches in New York: Thanks for the View, Mr. MiesYet again, Metropolis Books has published a book like no other. Danielle Aubert, Lana Cavar and Natasha Chandani's Thanks for the View, Mr. Mies is a humble, thoughtfully designed paen to Lafayette Park, a middle-class residential complex in downtown Detroit that boasts the largest collection of buildings designed by Mies van der Rohe in the world.
On Thursday, October 11 at 7PM, the Van Alen Institute and Van Alen Books host architecture and design critic Alexandra Lange in conversation with Aubert, Cavar and Chandani, followed by a reception and signing. And on Sunday, October 14 at 4PM, ARTBOOK @ MoMA PS1 presents the authors in conversation with Michael Bierut of the renowned international design firm, Pentagram. Featured image, a 2011 "Mies-ter" egg hunt in the Meadow surrounding the townhouses, is reproduced from Thanks for the View, Mr. Mies. continue to blog


Thanks for the View, Mr. Mies

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STAFF REVIEW

This is a success story about a midcentury-modern neighborhood in Detroit called Lafayette Park.
Planned and designed by the German modern architect Mies van der Rohe, it's the largest collection of his buildings in the world. Lafayette Park is an affordable, middle-class residential complex set on a lush, 20-acre park. It opened in the early '60s. Today, it's one of Detroit's most racially integrated and economically stable neighborhoods. And yet, many people have never heard of Lafayette Park, and it isn't in a lot of the books on Mies.
The three young designers who have put this book together--Danielle Aubert, Lana Cavar, and Natasha Chandani--have all lived in Lafayette Park. (Danielle still does.) They decided to start documenting this unusual neighborhood by interviewing the people who live there--some of them had been there since the '60s, and others were newcomers. A couple of young, local photographers joined the project, and word began to spread. One woman who's lived in Lafayette Park for decades shared her scrapbooks with the three designers. Others wrote short pieces about their experiences living there.
The result is an architecture monograph that has made its own rules. There's not an architectural historian in sight, and the photographs aren't the stuff of shelter magazines. Instead, what we get is a thoughtful, personal, and often very funny chronicle of a tight-knit neighborhood, told by the people who live there. The illustrations range from snapshots of cookouts and Easter egg hunts, to dramatic construction views that ran in Life magazine. There's an issue of the neighborhood newsletter, "The Lafayette Sporadic," and lovely sketches of birds that one resident has spotted on the property.
Not everyone moved there because they love modernism, and a lot of them had never heard of Mies. They were attracted by the park, or because they could walk to downtown from their home, or because the community was so racially and ethnically integrated.
As you probably know, for several years now, Detroit has been getting a lot of media coverage as a place where a renaissance is happening--artists and other young people are moving there, small businesses are taking root, new communities are forming. This book, with its DIY, made-by-the-people approach, fits right in to this scene. It's not a book about Detroit the tragic ruin; it's about a remarkable part of the city that's alive and thriving. So the book should appeal not just to architecture and urban design aficionados, but to anyone interested in city living. There's also a sort of artists book or even 'zine feel to this book, which should help it reach younger audiences. -- Diana Murphy
Artbook | D.A.P. Staff

 








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