These materials were originally presented at the Docomomo National Symposium in June, 2015.
TWELVE-STORY PROFESSIONAL PLAZA TOWER IN DETROIT
Ruth Mills, Quinn Evans Architects
This session presents the design history and adaptive use of the twelve-story Professional Plaza tower in Detroit (constructed 1964-66), one of the city’s most well-known mid-century buildings, which has a major presence along the city’s main commercial thoroughfare, Woodward Avenue. The building’s design was innovative for Detroit during this period, and takes its inspiration from local precedents by nationally significant architects like Mies van der Rohe’s Pavilion and Lafayette Towers and Minoru Yamasaki’s Michigan Consolidated Gas Building. After falling vacant, it was threatened with demolition in 2014. Instead, a local developer stepped in and is rehabilitating the building for mixed use retail and residential.
SAVING MODERNISM'S URBAN RENEWAL ERA
Adrian Scott Fine, LA Conservancy
During the 1950s-70s when city planning was largely synonymous with the concepts of clearance and redeveloping large-scale urban areas, preservation came onto the scene as a new voice. More often than not, this was in reaction against projects that employed the Modernist aesthetic of the day. Now, fifty-plus years later, the legacy of this era is being reexamined in the context of history, preservation, and Modernism.
MARFA, JUDD AND MORE: PRESERVING A SMALL TEXAS TOWN FOR AN ALTERNATIVE FUTURE
Robert Meckfessel, DSGN
Since its founding in the 1880s, the small west Texas town of Marfa has been a center for ranching, tourism, film, and the military. In 1971, after years of decline, it began a comeback when artist Donald Judd renovated a number of abandoned buildings, blending his minimal aesthetic with their humble grittiness. Others followed and Marfa is now a center for the international art scene. Despite this new life, Marfa retains its original, desolate charm, serving ranchers and hipsters alike. This has largely happened because of an informal, unstated design ethic that has little to do with “traditional” preservation.