Mies van der Rohe, Lafayette Park

written by:
photos by:
January 14, 2009

High-rise superblocks and identical clusters of row houses set apart from the urban grid have been much maligned as some of the major wrongdoings of modernism, but Detroit's Lafayette Park—the first urban-renewal project in the United States—tells a vastly different story. Within a sprawling, decentralized city that has suffered near-disastrous decline, this racially and economically diverse enclave just northeast of downtown has not only aged gracefully but today flourishes with new life.

Read Full Article
  • 
  The apartment towers at Lafayette Park.  Photo by: Raimund Koch
    The apartment towers at Lafayette Park.

    Photo by: Raimund Koch

  • 
  Lafayette Park's two-story townhouses are configured in a U-shaped formation.  Photo by: Raimund Koch
    Lafayette Park's two-story townhouses are configured in a U-shaped formation.

    Photo by: Raimund Koch

  • 
  A one-story villa in Lafayette Park.  Photo by: Raimund Koch
    A one-story villa in Lafayette Park.

    Photo by: Raimund Koch

  • 
  In 2006, Alexandra and Barlow moved to Detroit from Brooklyn (where Alexandra still lives and works part-time). The couple where heartbroken after losing a bid on a pristine townhouse, but they consoled themselves with a thoughtful renovation. Alexandra worked with contractor Joe "Schmoe" Proper from Lafayette Park Renovation to restore and update the home.  Photo by: Raimund Koch
    In 2006, Alexandra and Barlow moved to Detroit from Brooklyn (where Alexandra still lives and works part-time). The couple where heartbroken after losing a bid on a pristine townhouse, but they consoled themselves with a thoughtful renovation. Alexandra worked with contractor Joe "Schmoe" Proper from Lafayette Park Renovation to restore and update the home.

    Photo by: Raimund Koch

  • 
  In the living room, a pair of Tree coat hangers by Michael Young and Katrin Petursdottir for Swedese contrast with the live foliage outside.  Photo by: Raimund Koch
    In the living room, a pair of Tree coat hangers by Michael Young and Katrin Petursdottir for Swedese contrast with the live foliage outside.

    Photo by: Raimund Koch

  • 
  Because the original kitchen had been removed, Alexandra made the decision to widen the gallery-style room by ten inches. Floor-to-ceiling glass makes for ample natural light in the eating area, while the Vitra wall tiles provide a contemporary touch.  Photo by: Raimund Koch
    Because the original kitchen had been removed, Alexandra made the decision to widen the gallery-style room by ten inches. Floor-to-ceiling glass makes for ample natural light in the eating area, while the Vitra wall tiles provide a contemporary touch.

    Photo by: Raimund Koch

  • 
  A Richard Schultz outdoor set for Knoll looks at home indoors thanks to some faux fur, and an Alexander Girard Environmental Enrichment panel does its job on the rear wall.  Photo by: Raimund Koch
    A Richard Schultz outdoor set for Knoll looks at home indoors thanks to some faux fur, and an Alexander Girard Environmental Enrichment panel does its job on the rear wall.

    Photo by: Raimund Koch

  • 
  Residents are allowed a small swath to plant gardens. "A lot of credit is due to the landscape architect," says Barlow, and "Mies's floor-to-ceiling windows make the spaces feel open, while at the same time the canopy of trees makes you feel protected. It's a private, quiet, green oasis within spitting distance of the freeway, and you'd never know it."  Photo by: Raimund Koch
    Residents are allowed a small swath to plant gardens. "A lot of credit is due to the landscape architect," says Barlow, and "Mies's floor-to-ceiling windows make the spaces feel open, while at the same time the canopy of trees makes you feel protected. It's a private, quiet, green oasis within spitting distance of the freeway, and you'd never know it."

    Photo by: Raimund Koch

  • 
  The floating staircase is a decidedly elegant synthesis of form and function. "It's one of the reasons we wanted the townhouse" (as opposed to a villa), says Alexandra. The details are oddly reminiscent of the George Nelson Steel Frame desk in the office upstairs.  Photo by: Raimund Koch
    The floating staircase is a decidedly elegant synthesis of form and function. "It's one of the reasons we wanted the townhouse" (as opposed to a villa), says Alexandra. The details are oddly reminiscent of the George Nelson Steel Frame desk in the office upstairs.

    Photo by: Raimund Koch

  • 
  Despite an orderly exterior appearance, the townhome's upper floor plan is not strictly rectangular; it tessellates to create a wider and more livable space. The two front rooms act as an office and a guest room.  Photo by: Raimund Koch
    Despite an orderly exterior appearance, the townhome's upper floor plan is not strictly rectangular; it tessellates to create a wider and more livable space. The two front rooms act as an office and a guest room.

    Photo by: Raimund Koch

  • 
  Alexandra and Barlow enjoy a leisurely Alpine morning in bed underneath a quilt by Cranbrook Academy of Art graduate Abigail Newbold.  Photo by: Raimund Koch
    Alexandra and Barlow enjoy a leisurely Alpine morning in bed underneath a quilt by Cranbrook Academy of Art graduate Abigail Newbold.

    Photo by: Raimund Koch

  • 
  Colorful posters from the traveling exhibition "Shrinking Cities" channel possible mantras for a 21st-century Detroit.  Photo by: Raimund Koch
    Colorful posters from the traveling exhibition "Shrinking Cities" channel possible mantras for a 21st-century Detroit.

    Photo by: Raimund Koch

@current / @total

Read Full Article

Join the Discussion

Loading comments...