Jul, 11, 2012,
3:45 PM

Our Lafayette Park exhibition is up

Here are images from the Lafayette Park exhibition in S. R. Crown Hall on IIT’s Chicago campus. Be sure to visit before it closes on Friday, July 27. The show is open Mondays through Fridays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and provides an insider’s look into the design of this innovative urban housing development.

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Jul, 11, 2012,
9:55 AM

Flabby males and trim females

In summer of 1963, Mies’ Detroit renewal project Lafayette Park had a lot going on. Neighbors got to know each other. Games were played.

According to that season’s edition of “The Lafayette Sporadic,” a Miss Boomer was in charge of the latter and had organized activities for “Kids and Others.”

Here was a schedule of activities:

12  Noon   Dark

12:30-2     Crafts

2:30-3       Street Showers

3:30-4       Story Time

4-4:30       Games (small children)

6-7            Practice for special activities

7-Closing  Adult activities

Included in the text: “For you adults who want some athletic activity. Miss Boomer would be happy to organize volleyball or softball games. Flabby males and trim females are invited to contact her on the playfield [sic].”

That a woman named Miss Boomer was in charge of organizing community recreational activities is too charming. That trim males and flabby females were apparently not encouraged to contact her about activities is… puzzling.

Today’s newsletter page, along with other bits of information we present through July, are courtesy of Betty Brown and the publication, “Thanks for the View, Mr. Mies,” 2012. If you would like to share ephemera from Lafayette Park, send us a copy at miesmembership@iit.edu.

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Jul, 6, 2012,
9:56 AM

1961 in Lafayette Park

Today’s look at the history of Detroit’s Lafayette Park comes in the form of an October 1961 newsletter. That’s from right around the time this urban renewal project was born.

Now that we know the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will auction Lafayette Towers in two weeks, it’s poignant to read a record from its origins. This newsletter states more than 130 of the 186 townhouses and courthouses in the complex were purchased or rented and “groundbreaking ceremonies were held on Oct. 27 for Lafayette Towers, in the southeast corner. Plans for the two Towers include a shopping center, and, it says here, [sic] a swimming pool.” Anyone who can stomach an estimated $10 million in repairs can have it all now in 2012.

"The Lafayette Sporadic," as this newsletter was called, was put out by the Lafayette Park Community Association, which at its first meeting created a constitution "after much debate, commentary and nitpicking," according to the newsletter.

As with newer editions of the community’s newsletter, there are random editorial gems. For example, residents are instructed to visit the Saturday farmers’ market:

"Take a basket to fill with fat and ruddy fruits and vegetables or bright zinnias and marigolds, all at low prices," it says, adding, "the colors, noise, confusion, and masses of people combine to create a wonderfully rich and gaudy scene. The concensus [sic] among old-time market shoppers is that noontime is best; and you might stop first at Samuel’s on Russell St., or the Roma Cafe, at the north end of the market, or at the Butcher’s Inn on Winder St., for beer and lunch first."

This bulletin also notes “internationally famous woodcutter” Irving Amen would have a show sponsored by “25 art-conscious Lafayette Park families” at the Galerie Galaxie on 132 Madison. Why Amen would be called a woodcutter is puzzling, considering the wealth of media he used in his career. But we suppose this newsletter’s editor was in no position to Google the artist.

Today’s newsletter page, along with other bits of information we will present through July, are courtesy of Betty Brown and the publication, “Thanks for the View, Mr. Mies,” 2012. If you would like to share ephemera from Lafayette Park, send us a copy at miesmembership@iit.edu.

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Jul, 5, 2012,
10:00 AM

Notes from Japan

A Chicago-based Mies Society member couldn’t help but think of Mies on her trip to Japan and sent us these phone photos and notes.

"We were lucky to have 2 nights at the Tawaraya Inn in Kyoto, a national treasure and one of the finest ryokan since 1709. It is exquisitely classic and therefore minimal, with every object, view and experience carefully arranged. Not surprising to find Mies on the bookshelf in the study of the owners husband." Mies Society member traveling in Japan

"We did a flower arranging class in Kyoto yesterday. I thought I did a good job but you’ll see here all the bits that still needed to be pruned off for perfection. And yes, the teacher actually said " less is more." also interesting that the teaching is similar to stories I’ve heard of Mies where he’d sit with a student looking at a work and smoking but saying nothing. The student would be so nervous that he would look at the work trying to see what could be wrong and find opportunities for improvement on his own. Mies would leave having said nothing. This class was mostly the same way." Mies Society member traveling in Japan

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