URBAN STUDIES AND THEORY

PUBLISHER
METROPOLIS BOOKS

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

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PUB DATE
Active

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D.A.P. EXCLUSIVE
CATALOG: FALL 2012 p. 38   

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ISBN 9781935202929 TRADE
LIST PRICE: $29.95 CDN $35.00

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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.

  

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 image, of a townhouse block in Lafayette Park, is reproduced from Thanks for the View, Mr. Mies.

PRAISE AND REVIEWS

T: The New York Times Style Magazine

"Thanks for the View, Mr. Mies" explores how Modernist architecture improves lives in the Lafayette Park section of Detroit, which has the world's largest concentration of Mies van der Rohe buildings. (It's also one of the most racially integrated neighborhoods in what might well be America's most segregated city.)

The New York Times, Home Section

Alexandra Lange

In their new book, “Thanks for the View, Mr. Mies,” which is due out at the end of the month (Metropolis Books, $29.95), the editors Danielle Aubert, Lana Cavar and Natasha Chandani, graphic designers all, offer a portrait of Lafayette Park very different from the classic Mies monograph.
Contents include interviews with residents of Lafayette Park’s towers and town houses; archival materials from the complex’s history; an account of nine days spent trying to climate-control a corner apartment; and essays on Mies in Detroit, the Lafayette Park landscape, bird-watching and a record of bird-strike deaths (birds and plate glass don’t mix).
At-home portraits of residents by Corine Vermeulen show Mies’s architecture as a strong frame for personal expression. Some homes look like shrines to 1958, while others reflect the lived-in décor of decades. Jacqueline Neal, an interior designer and 12-year resident of the Pavilion, the smallest of the complex’s three towers, spoke last month about living and accessorizing with Mies.

The Detroit News

Sebastian Hofer

Thanks to a master plan by architect Mies van der Rohe, urban planner Ludwig Hilbersheimer, landscape architect Alfred Caldwell and the spirit of its residents, the neighborhood turned out to be one of the most successful communities in Detroit.
Or, as essayist Marsha Music, who lives in one of the 183 town-houses of Lafayette Park, puts it: "The peace here may be a reward, bequeathed through the ages, for having the commitment and audacity to maintain an integrated community in one of the most segregated cities in the United States. God is certainly in these details, as Mies might say."
It's the prime achievement of "Thanks for the view, Mr. Mies" to show those details in all their significance, and to show them in a very clever and never all too earnest way. See glossy photos of bathroom doorknobs and mail slots, learn more about early community newsletters, whistle with the neighborhood bagpiper.
In two words: Be amazed.

Azure

Helena Grdadolnik

This inspiring 288-page volume from Metropolis books captures the convivial atmosphere the authors found at Detroit's Lafayette Park, a housing developement designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe that encompasses 32 hectares of towers, townhouses and parks. I visited the area 15 years ago, the book took me right back to its quiet streets, green spaces and distinctive glass and steel design. The three editors (also the book's graphic designers) bring Layfayette to life, primarily through interviews with residents and photographs of them in their apartments. The images provide an intruiging glimpse of how personal style rarely conforms to strict Modernism.

Public Books

Mariana Mogilevich

...a fine-grained publication that celebrates Lafayette Park’s residents and daily life there. That book conveys a sense of a complex, diverse ecology: from college students and retirees to herons, pheasants, and possums.

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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