Post Number: 166
|Posted on Monday, March 05, 2007 - 10:52 pm: || |
Interesting article about the architectural features of the RenCen. Anyone have more information about this? Thoughts?
Here's the key language "The first modern urban threat remember was not the Arab terrorist, but the black rioter. Buildings like Detroit's Renaissance Center were noted not only for their use of curves as opposed to angles, but also for [their] use of military style bunkers to keep urban (read: black) denizens out. The bunkers have since been removed, but the first thing that I thought of as a young kid looking at it was the Morlocks. The curves (the building is in effect a series of connected tubes) served to disorient people rather than welcome them -- which of course makes sense if the only population the designers want in the building in the first place are people who know where they are going"
(Message edited by mgd04 on March 05, 2007)
Post Number: 453
|Posted on Monday, March 05, 2007 - 11:04 pm: || |
Probably a prudent measure considering it was designed just after the riots.
Post Number: 3757
|Posted on Monday, March 05, 2007 - 11:10 pm: || |
1) It was a John Portman design.
2) Many of his designs throughout the country (Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles, Peachtree Plaza in Atlanta) had rounded and octagonal forms.
3) Architecture of the 1970's were known for getting away from right angles (which tends to get people of all races confused).
4) Henry Ford II would be turning over in his grave hearing the reasoning that you give about black rioters or blacks in general, in regards to the building that was his idea to try to turn around the city after the tumultuous 1960's.
5) If what you said was the reasoning around why the Ren Cen is shaped the way it is... Coleman Alexander Young would have stopped early construction in its' tracks as soon as he took office as Detroit's first African-American mayor in 1974.
(Message edited by Gistok on March 06, 2007)
Post Number: 1074
|Posted on Monday, March 05, 2007 - 11:10 pm: || |
Go to the library and take out "the geography of nowhere" by James Howard Kunsler. There is lengthy chapter on Detroit in a section of the book entitled "three cities"--Detroit is cited as "the wrong way". There is much written about the Ren-Cen and it's terminally flawed design. It's a John Portman building, and they are al flawed
Post Number: 8469
|Posted on Monday, March 05, 2007 - 11:15 pm: || |
Gistok - I will try to dig it up later this week but there was an interview with the architect and he specifically stated that he intentionally designed it as a fortress to keep it separated from the people that didn't need to go there.
Post Number: 1762
|Posted on Monday, March 05, 2007 - 11:20 pm: || |
who cares? GM's done a very nice job of opening it up to both the city and the riverfront
Post Number: 575
|Posted on Monday, March 05, 2007 - 11:22 pm: || |
All i know is, it's sad that this ugly short building is still our landmark skyscraper. Ughh.. But dont worry I am only now a few billion away from building Sekou Tower which will make the so called Ren Cen a memory. And it will be open to all except terrorist of course.
Post Number: 1507
|Posted on Monday, March 05, 2007 - 11:23 pm: || |
Post Number: 286
|Posted on Monday, March 05, 2007 - 11:26 pm: || |
Huge waste of time and bandwidth.
Post Number: 1508
|Posted on Monday, March 05, 2007 - 11:32 pm: || |
Post Number: 1509
|Posted on Monday, March 05, 2007 - 11:38 pm: || |
Here is a 1971 Chamber of Commerce film about Detroit.
Post Number: 364
|Posted on Monday, March 05, 2007 - 11:42 pm: || |
This is ridiculous. I don't think it was aimed at keeping blacks out so much as undesirable people, in general. The berms' intent was security, not creating a racial divide. Regardless, I am glad they're gone. The RenCen's Winter Garden and riverfront look great!
Post Number: 36
|Posted on Monday, March 05, 2007 - 11:48 pm: || |
Can anyone find a picture of the "bunker"
Post Number: 332
|Posted on Monday, March 05, 2007 - 11:49 pm: || |
The RenCen has a great look. It is still one of the coolest looking buildings in the U.S.
Post Number: 1510
|Posted on Monday, March 05, 2007 - 11:54 pm: || |
The "Berm" during construction.
Post Number: 37
|Posted on Monday, March 05, 2007 - 11:57 pm: || |
Thank you psip
Post Number: 1415
|Posted on Tuesday, March 06, 2007 - 12:09 am: || |
Tear that schitt down!
Post Number: 1512
|Posted on Tuesday, March 06, 2007 - 12:18 am: || |
The berm during demolition.
Post Number: 3760
|Posted on Tuesday, March 06, 2007 - 12:43 am: || |
I agree Rhymeswithrawk! Jt1, if John Portman's comments coincide with what Rhymeswithrawk said, then I agree! But making a statement about keeping out blacks is pretty strong stuff, something that CAY would never have tolerated!
Post Number: 90
|Posted on Tuesday, March 06, 2007 - 4:06 am: || |
the rencen is/was supposed to be a mini suburbia within detroit that was supposed to be accesible to suburbanites so they didnt have to visit the rest of downtown
truth be told.
Post Number: 6436
|Posted on Tuesday, March 06, 2007 - 5:52 am: || |
Let's see: In those years, Detroit had just gotten on the map as the scene of the worst rioting in the nation's history, and was the murder capital of the world with daily grisly details.
If true, the architect might have been acting accordingly. Why design an inviting place for the same folks who were ready and willing participants in the first debacle (1967) and who daily were participating in the second?
If not true, he might have inadvertently avoided the fate of other Detroit buildings - I don't recall seeing the RenCen boarded up, having devil's night fires, being the scene of murder or experiencng rioting within.
Post Number: 1004
|Posted on Tuesday, March 06, 2007 - 7:19 am: || |
Were any skyscrapers attacked during the 67 riots?
Post Number: 8471
|Posted on Tuesday, March 06, 2007 - 7:53 am: || |
Gistok - I should have clarified. It didn't seem racist but he wanted to keep 'the undesirables' out.
Post Number: 1079
|Posted on Tuesday, March 06, 2007 - 8:14 am: || |
JT1--can you think of any new successful "nice" development that has come along anywhere that didn't want to keep bums, whinos and panhandlers out? I was in and out of the Ren-Cen shortly after it opened (looking very confused and lost, like everyone else) and there were whites and African-Americans (who were "Blacks" then) going about their business, shopping, eating, going to work and to the movies. There was no check point Charlie letting me in and keeping African-Americans out. It was no different than going to any mall or business center today--go around acting up and they are going to ask you to leave, no matter your complexion.
Read Kunsler's chapter on Detroit in the above cited book, you'll get a better understanding of the gestalt of the times. It wasn't an example of functional city-life architecture.
Post Number: 117
|Posted on Tuesday, March 06, 2007 - 8:50 am: || |
To me this is just silly. Black people (African-Americans) can come and go in just as eaisly as anyone else. Can we nitpick anything else? Oh and question (and I dont mean to derail this thread), but if a white guy from South Africa immigrates here, is he still an African-American?(Just being silly here folks).
Post Number: 64
|Posted on Tuesday, March 06, 2007 - 8:57 am: || |
Thanks for the input Exmotowner, but if you had read the first post, he said "BLACK" people, in terms f skin color. Technically, although the white guy from Africa may be African-American, he still has white skin.
Post Number: 248
|Posted on Tuesday, March 06, 2007 - 9:06 am: || |
thought of as a young kid looking at it was the Morlocks
Not wanting to hijack this thread, but its kinda quiet in here this morning with no drama. So,
Anyone remember that incredible sci-fi movie where the Morlocks made their first appearance?
It was an awesome movie for its time. Look closely in the last sentence for a clue.... Jane
Post Number: 67
|Posted on Tuesday, March 06, 2007 - 9:09 am: || |
Uh Janes, why would you Hijack it. IT'S TUESDAY AT 9:00 IN THE MORNING. WHAT DO YOU EXPECT IT TO BE, JUMPING? PEOPLE ARE STILL SLEEPING OR AT WORK, OK?
Post Number: 138
|Posted on Tuesday, March 06, 2007 - 9:10 am: || |
I hate myself for adding my voice to this ludicrous thread, but I can't help myself. It amazes me the utter and complete lack of appreciation people have for architectural history and diversity. At the time of it's construction Renaissance Center was absolutely cutting-edge in it's style and design. While one may not appreciate John Portman's style--there are many examples--Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta Marriott Marquis, Bonaventure Hotel, Embarcadero Center that have remained landmarks 30+ years after their construction--Detroit is blessed to have a Portman building as our skyline's "signature". It is easy to forget that countless past architectural styles from Victorian to Art Moderne have been considered "ugly" at some point in history. No building is "perfect" so calling Portman's designs 'flawed' is as applicable as calling the nightime 'dark'.
Post Number: 2514
|Posted on Tuesday, March 06, 2007 - 9:59 am: || |
quote:It's a nice skyline piece, but having worked in the building for several years it was a mess to get around. It was hopeless for occasional visitors and still excessively confusing for a daily occupant. Portman really muffed the basics.
No building is "perfect" so calling Portman's designs 'flawed' is as applicable as calling the nightime 'dark'.
It's nice and shiny though.
Post Number: 8474
|Posted on Tuesday, March 06, 2007 - 11:15 am: || |
Packman - I never said I disagreed with the rationale. Just stating what the architect stated.
Post Number: 2455
|Posted on Tuesday, March 06, 2007 - 11:22 am: || |
I had no problem going in and out of the Ren Cen after it was built.
Post Number: 46
|Posted on Tuesday, March 06, 2007 - 12:59 pm: || |
In 1977 a multicultural prom was held, at the rencen. As we were deciding on the best place to hold the prom groups of students from Denby High were given a tour. At the time we were the first class (as my memory recalls) to have a prom there. Our class made sure all students at Denby was represented and we had a wonderful prom....as well as subsequent re-unions...looking forward to this years'....We would not of had it there had we known it had a deliberate design to be exclusive. Our goals that year were inclusive....check out the 1977 yearbook.
Post Number: 716
|Posted on Tuesday, March 06, 2007 - 1:17 pm: || |
We should have a separate area, for toxically absurd threads like this one. Maybe The Moderator should hire a webchitect, who would work up a new forum that is designed to keep Dumb Shit like this blocked off into a corner.
Post Number: 89
|Posted on Tuesday, March 06, 2007 - 1:25 pm: || |
Doesn't Lowell already do that himself? It's just that there's so many of them. Besides, we had the Off-Topic and Detroit Connections board. I'm assuming Lowell got rid of those too.
Post Number: 1047
|Posted on Tuesday, March 06, 2007 - 2:04 pm: || |
I have it on good authority that it was built that way to keep out the irish catholics.
Post Number: 167
|Posted on Tuesday, March 06, 2007 - 2:10 pm: || |
This isn't an absurd thread at all. The original link was from a prominent magazine and the quote comes for distinguished African-American thinker. Simply because you don't like his ideas or don't agree with them doesn't make the thread toxically absurd. As you can see, there are many differing viewpoints within this thread itself about the professor's original thoughts so clearly this isn't something everyone agrees upon.
Post Number: 250
|Posted on Tuesday, March 06, 2007 - 2:12 pm: || |
Actually, it was built to keep out the gays. Mmmhmm, the gays. But then, do you really think it would be socially acceptable for any gay person in their right mind to be seen in that glass monstrosity? Pahlleezzzeee........
Only kidding, just adding a little humor to a pathetic post. Sees someone was bored or just looking to start another racial post, sit back and then watch the fireworks, right?... Jane
Post Number: 1585
|Posted on Tuesday, March 06, 2007 - 3:24 pm: || |
The claim in the title of the thread may be a stretch and perhaps a bit absurd, but this thread overall is not absurd at all. The trend in the 1970's toward fortress architecture (and the subsequent shunning of that style) is a worthwhile discussion, and VERY relevant and important to Detroit.
The RenCen is a real mix of good and bad... here's how I would grade it:
Exterior/skyline appearance: B-
Interior brutalist concrete/spacepod-balcony appearance: A+
Entrance/accessibility pre-GM: F
Entrance/accessibility post-GM: B
Post Number: 89
|Posted on Tuesday, March 06, 2007 - 4:16 pm: || |
I loves me the Ren-Cen..... Danny said it was the old ghetto hood. I think maybe hes right
Post Number: 1746
|Posted on Tuesday, March 06, 2007 - 4:17 pm: || |
I didn't know trying to make work areas safe for workers was considered trying to keep blacks out, love them stereotypes.
Post Number: 91
|Posted on Tuesday, March 06, 2007 - 4:22 pm: || |
Whats wrong with sterotypes...... everyone does it each and everyday, hell the othewr day I asked someone for a cigarette and they thought I was a bum. Now I could've walked my ass over to the store and got a pack, but it was cold and I was trying for convenince. Whats wrong with that?
Post Number: 1513
|Posted on Tuesday, March 06, 2007 - 4:39 pm: || |
It was the old ghettohood, in about 1840. That area was pretty much cleared of building by the 60s. The only remaining businesses when the RenCen was announced were Robin Hood Flour and the GTW (SEMTA) commuter train station. It was mostly parking lots.
Post Number: 2189
|Posted on Tuesday, March 06, 2007 - 4:50 pm: || |
The Ren Cen was designed to keep EVERYBODY out. That's why it's such a P.O.S.
For any reason other than a postcard shot, the Portman Ren Cen design fails on every level, as do the other designs like Peachtree, which are essentially the same damn lame idea rehashed and lukewarmed over.
Le Corbusier would be proud.
Post Number: 490
|Posted on Tuesday, March 06, 2007 - 6:08 pm: || |
My offices were in the Ren Cen from '79 just after it opened until '84.
Only a few times a year were my African-American business associates (who made it through the berms) stopped, searched, ejected from the building or otherwise made unwelcome before making it to my safe haven offices.
Post Number: 1
|Posted on Tuesday, March 06, 2007 - 6:56 pm: || |
Are there any other buildings in Detroit whose architectural histories might relate to the riots or the new demands of modern city planners?
Post Number: 1516
|Posted on Tuesday, March 06, 2007 - 7:22 pm: || |
Thats a good question Sparty06. And welcome to the to DetroitYes.
It started me thinking about what was built between 1967 and 1975 (rencen). The only thing I can come up with is the Howard Johnson's Hotel and that was started in 1967. Aside from the Jail I don't think there was anything.
the next spurt came in the late 80's with the John Madden and latter, Comerica.
There was the Executive Plaza, but thats not really CBD.
The WWJ (WDIV) studios were built in about 82
Post Number: 252
|Posted on Tuesday, March 06, 2007 - 8:58 pm: || |
Back to the thread hijack: Isn't a light brown skinned US citizen of Egyptian ancestry also an African American?
Black people and all other African Americans come and go as they please in the Ren Cen. As far as I know, that has always been the case. No way I buy your initial claim that the building was designed to keep young blacks out.
Please provide specific examples of racial segregation pertaining to the Ren Cen and its fortress design if you are going to make this claim.
As a sophomore at U of M in 1976, my buddies and I went to a Foghat concert at Cobo. The Ren Cen had just opened. We walked over and checked it out. We only lasted a few minutes before security asked us to leave. You can't have undesirable white college kids mucking up your urban renewal project. But then again, we were undoubtedly acting sophomoric and we clearly had no intent of spending our money there.
Surprisingly, we easily figured out how to bypass the fortress berms and gain entry.
Post Number: 169
|Posted on Tuesday, March 06, 2007 - 10:24 pm: || |
Docmo, I never made the claim that the building was meant to keep out anybody. I simply posted an online blog that made that claim and asked if anyone knew more information.
Post Number: 40
|Posted on Saturday, March 10, 2007 - 12:48 am: || |
That claim about the berms was one of the silliest things I ever heard- a building in downtown Detroit built when by then Detroit's population was majority black that was designed to keep blacks out. How did it work? Was/is there some brain function in a black person that makes them run from a certain structure or were there electronic microwaves being emitted from the berms saying something like: "Blacks go home" only a black person could hear?
Post Number: 2105
|Posted on Saturday, March 10, 2007 - 10:29 am: || |
A person from South Africa who becomes an American citizen would be called a South-African American, whether they were black of white. All of you white folks who think that little question is cute need to quit. If you used some logic you would have come up with my explanation.
The truth be told, we need to get away from putting the place where someone came from in front of the word American. Regardless of where we came from or where our ancestors came from, we are Americans first. Maybe if we called ourselves that and only that, then maybe posts about race would disappear.
Post Number: 260
|Posted on Saturday, March 10, 2007 - 11:47 am: || |
Royce, excellent reply. I have been saying the same for years. Living in Texas, there are issues lately with illegal immigration from Mexico and South America and some cultures not recognizing the American way, the language and culture.
Recently, in a heated disagreement where an individual thought Americans needed to learn Spanish to be able to relate to the new wave of immigration, I point blank stated
"Corporate America doesn't speak Spanish. "
If an individual is bilingual, great, but to suceed in America, English is a pre requisite. Needless to say, the Hispanics of this group weren't as understanding. Jane