A Miesian Community That Still Works

Sam Graves at Dwell says that Detroit's Lafayette Park, planned by Mies van der Rohe in 1956, is a rare success story from the planned developments of that era.

Graves primarily writes (in the Dwell style) about a couple who renovates one of the single-family homes in the complex. But the opening paragraph sets the renovation in context:

"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."

An early model of Lafayette Park. PHOTO: Josh Jackson.

Full Story: Mies van der Rohe, Lafayette Park



Urban Removal - Not Urban Renewal

To coin this as an urban renewal success story is wrong. There is nothing urban about Lafayette Park. It was in fact developed to be non-urban. It's values are suburban. It is a Park, and as such residents must leave Lafayette Park to experience actual urban neighborhoods that are vibrant with restaurants, culture, art, shops, and other people.

So let's not fool ourselves by saying this is urban renewal. In reality, an urban area was destroyed and replaced with a suburban one. That's not renewal of the urban fabric, it's the destruction and replacement of it with non-urban development. It's urban removal.

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