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Thanks for the View, Mr. Mies: Lafayette Park, Detroit Paperback – October 31, 2012


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Metropolis Books (October 31, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1935202928
  • ISBN-13: 978-1935202929
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #863,479 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

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. (Helena Grdadolnik Azure Magazine 2013-04-01)

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. (Sebastian Hofer The Detroit News 2012-10-17)

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. (Alexandra Lange The New York Times Home 2012-10-04)

"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.) (T: The New York Times Style Magazine 2012-10-01)

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Snorkledorf on May 26, 2013
Format: Paperback
Right off I should point out that I grew up in Lafayette Park many decades ago (though I live in Japan now), so by no means am I an unbiased reviewer.

The only other volume I've found on Lafayette Park, Waldheim's 2004 Lafayette Park Detroit (CASE), focuses primarily on the architecture, so for that point of view I'd suggest hunting down that book.

In contrast "Thanks..." is unabashedly focused on the neighborhood's residents and their experiences. Living as they do in the heart of the apparent oxymoron "a lovely neighborhood in downtown Detroit," it's an interesting point of view that is rarely encountered in the media (whose only message seems to be "Detroit is long dead.") The Lafayette Park residents WANT to live there -- they've chosen to live there -- and this book, written by those residents, tries to show us why.

The architecture is certainly a vital component. More fascinating though is the way it's all come together to create an actual community, and how that community has remained solid, vibrant, and deeply integrated for over 50 years. More than anything, that's what this book is about. In this community, it just worked. Why?

"Thanks..." is close to 300 pages, almost completely in full color. It's split into three parts: "The Townhouses" (where I lived), "The Neighborhood," and "The High-Rises" (The Pavilion and the twin Lafayette Towers). The book concludes with a number of site plans and floor plans that give you the details that help you visualize along with the text.
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I was barely aware of Mies' work on Lafayette Park and this book was a pure joy to read. Hats off to the authors for a creative way of telling the story; or, rather, letting others tell their stories. I'm glad it wasn't just a book about the architecture, landscape, and site. There's a lot of that here, but the human stories of the occupants are what really sets this apart. More architecture books need that kind of perspective. Well done.
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Seen from the user's perspective. always a useful thing, but it's largely anecdotal. Not a substantial or thorough survey. The interviews themselves are moderately informative but a more systematic work would have attempted to survey everyone on a standard series of questions that would have produced more data that in turn would have been more accurate. It's also impossible to compare the results with anything else so the developments of plan configuration, façade development, site planning landscaping and parking layout cannot be truly evaluated.
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By GEORGIA LOZIER on July 18, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this for my nephew but he was thrilled with it and said the book is a keeper and he just love it so I am happy I ordered it for him. :)
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