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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on May 26, 2013
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. Throughout the book are innumerable photographs showing the neighborhood both as it is now and in years past, the diverse ways in which people have decorated their homes, and even some old documents like a couple of pages from a 1960s fundraiser cookbook!

Personally I loved the comparative shots taken from the same relative position in each unit, showing how differently the "same room" can be decorated. It was also fun to see the collection of photos documenting all of the original fixtures that I remember from my time there in the '70s (those window handles, that futuristic late-'50s fold-down stove...). As many of the units have inevitably been remodeled over the years, many of them quite attractively, it's nice to see photos preserving samples of the original aesthetic.

The appeal of life in Lafayette Park lies in the balance between Mies' glass-and-steel boxes with the landscaping that's only become more lush in the decades since I lived there (and it wasn't bad at all back then!). Each supports and balances the other, and the floor-to-ceiling glass walls in the townhouses really allow a feeling of being right there in the trees, and among your neighbors.

(A side note: one "problem" that I noticed long ago, and I laughed when I found it mentioned in the book, is that after growing up with two walls of your house being completely [I mean literally, truly] made of glass, I've never again found a home that feels like it has anywhere near enough windows.)

If you're interested in learning more about a community that's been relentlessly, anomalously successful in the heart of a city that's often been described in perhaps less-glowing terms, then I'd highly recommend "Thanks for the View, Mr. Mies."

And for me of course it was also a nice, big self-indulgent nostalgia-fest!
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on June 1, 2014
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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on July 18, 2013
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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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on October 28, 2012
This unique book brings Lafayette Park to life. Besides being beautifully designed, the stories and interviews really shed light on this Detroit community and the man responsible for building it. The authors show a genuine curiosity and tenderness for their subjects and the writing is filled with curiosity. It's rare to see a book that works both visually (excellent photography and design) and is also so well written and edited in such an original way.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 29, 2013
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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7 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on October 31, 2012
I agree that this book tells the end users' story in great detail ... and a "nice" history it is!
Unfortunately for a professional designer, urban planner or architect, It would have been nice to also learn the other half of the story .... some of Mies' sketches, models, drawings and details to understand what Mies wanted this housing project to be. I would also suggest that the book design is just average, and the photographs are more like snapshots from someone's point and shoot camera. If you are interested in the people who live at Detroit's Lafayette Park, the birds that have nested there, and photographs of the current occupants' living rooms ... this book is for you !
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on February 17, 2013
The book was beautifully printed. I found the interviews with residents fascinating. I do, however, think that you would need some connection to Detroit or mid-century modern architecture to really appreciate this book. I was in Detroit in the '60's in graduate school and one of my professors had moved into this "new way of living in the city" place and when I read of the book I just had to have it.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on November 28, 2012
Real people living in ideal buildings designed by my fauvourite architect. Mies should be alive to see this.
An exhautive report of the living conditions in a planning neibourghood.
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