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Stars Rising: Why U-M's Detroit Observatory Matters and Where It's Going

Tue, 01/07/2020 - 8:49am

Why is an observatory in Ann Arbor named for Detroit? What made the Detroit Observatory a milestone for the University of Michigan and American higher education? How was the Observatory central to the growth of American astronomical science, when did it lose that role, and how did it get it back? And who were some of the people who made it all happen? Gary Krenz of the University’s Bentley Historical Library will explore these and other questions in this talk. In its 165-year history, the Observatory has gone through many transformations, and it is currently going through another—the construction of an addition to improve access, education, and programming. Krenz will also look at what that project entails and what lies ahead.

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Author Event | Guardians of Detroit

Mon, 05/06/2019 - 10:25am

Due to a fortunate confluence of water, geography and entrepreneurial vision, Detroit at the end of the 19th century was poised to experience unprecedented growth. Even before the Ford Motor Company was established in 1903, Detroit was a major industrial center and transportation hub. All this commercial activity and prosperity led to a building boom of incredible proportions at a time when the most popular architectural styles were Beaux Arts, Gothic Revival, Classical Revival, and Art Deco. Each of these styles typically required extensive ornamentation and because of this, Detroit became a treasure trove of architectural sculpture. 

Jeff Morrison’s new book Guardians of Detroit: Architectural Sculpture in the Motor City documents these incredible features in a city that began as a small frontier fort and quickly grew to become a major metropolis and industrial titan.  Jeff shares more than 100 spectacular close-up pictures of architectural sculpture from throughout the city of Detroit. You also learn about the symbolism behind the ornamentation and hear some of the untold stories of the artists, artisans, and architects involved in its creation, all drawn from the book. 

Jeff Morrison is a historian and photographer who has been taking pictures since his parents gave him his first camera at age nine. He has a bachelor’s degree in history and art from Eastern Michigan University and over thirty years’ experience as a graphic artist. Jeff lives in Oxford, Michigan, with his lovely wife, Susie, and their wonder dog, Manfred.

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Dale Allen Gyure Discusses Minoru Yamasaki

Mon, 11/26/2018 - 12:37am

The first book to reevaluate the evocative and polarizing work of one of midcentury America’s most significant architects

Born to Japanese immigrant parents in Seattle, Minoru Yamasaki (1912–1986) became one of the towering figures of midcentury architecture, even appearing on the cover of Time magazine in 1963. His self-proclaimed humanist designs merged the modern materials and functional considerations of postwar American architecture with traditional elements such as arches and colonnades. Yamasaki’s celebrated and iconic projects of the 1950s and ’60s, including the Lambert–St. Louis Airport and the U.S. Science Pavilion in Seattle, garnered popular acclaim.
Despite this initial success, Yamasaki’s reputation began to decline in the 1970s with the mixed critical reception of the World Trade Center in New York, one of the most publicized projects in the world at the time, and the spectacular failure of St. Louis’s Pruitt-Igoe Apartments, which came to symbolize the flaws of midcentury urban renewal policy. And as architecture moved in a more critical direction influenced by postmodern theory, Yamasaki seemed increasingly old-fashioned. In the first book to examine Yamasaki’s life and career, Dale Allen Gyure draws on a wealth of previously unpublished archival material, and nearly 200 images, to contextualize Yamasaki's work against the framework of midcentury modernism and explore his initial successes, his personal struggles—including with racism—and the tension his work ultimately found in the divide between popular and critical taste.

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Debate on Proposal A—the “Library Lot"

Fri, 10/26/2018 - 12:56pm

The League of Women Voters of the Ann Arbor Area hosted a panel discussion on Proposal A, the "Library Lot." 

Representatives from groups that support or oppose Proposal A presented their views and answered audience questions. Speakers include:

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Nerd Nite #56 - Lustron: America’s Heavy Metal Housing

Thu, 10/18/2018 - 12:17pm

Lustron homes were factory-made all-metal homes developed after WWII for the booming housing market. Most of their surfaces, inside and out and on their roofs were made of enameled steel. John lives in one, and in this talk he shares the ins and outs of occupying an all-metal home.

About John Heider:

John was a 28 year veteran newspaper photojournalist who was recently retired against his will and is also a ninja school dropout.

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Nerd Nite #55: Architectural Supervillains

Wed, 09/19/2018 - 7:08pm

When it comes to architecture, we may not know what we like, but we know what we don't like: big buildings, greedy developers, the politicians that make both possible...

Hear more about the things we love to hate about buildings and cities; and, just maybe, discover some new things to love.

About Jessica A.S. Letaw:

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A2Energy Power Hour

Wed, 09/12/2018 - 6:15pm

This fun and informative event explains how your house can be made more energy efficient and whether solar power might be an option. 

Presenters include:

-MI Saves: to explain their contractor network and financing options.

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Author Event | The Poisoned City: Anna Clark on the Flint Water Crisis

Wed, 08/01/2018 - 12:28pm

Anna Clark's new book is an account of the disastrous decisions that switched Flint, Michigan's water supply to a source that corroded the city's aging lead pipes—and the eighteen months of activism that finally forced the state government to admit that Flint's water had been poisoned with lead. In the first full account of this American tragedy, The Poisoned City recounts the gripping story of Flint’s poisoned water through the people who caused it, suffered from it, and exposed it. The Poisoned City is a chronicle of one town, but could also be about any American city, all made precarious by the neglect of infrastructure and the erosion of democratic decision making.

Anna Clark is a journalist living in Detroit. Her writing has appeared in ELLE Magazine, The New York Times, POLITICO Magazine, Next City, and other publications. She received the 2017 Excellence in Environmental Journalism award from the Great Lakes Environmental Law Council. Her writing was a “notable” pick in Best American Sports Writing 2012; a “best commentary” finalist from the 2015 Mirror Awards; and a 2016 first-place winner from SPJ-Detroit in online investigative reporting.

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Building Matters: Black Architects in Michigan

Thu, 06/01/2017 - 2:40pm

In honor of Black History Month, local experts discuss the contributions of black architects, architectural designers, and landscape architects to the built environment of Michigan. They touch on Michigan's first black-owned architectural firm, Detroit's historic Black Bottom neighborhood, and Detroit's connection to the rise of hip-hop architecture.

This video includes talks from Jessica A.S. Letaw, Karen AD Burton, Saundra Little, and Emily Kutil. Burton and Little's project, the Noir Design Parti, is a 2016 Knight Arts Challenge winner. The project documents the professional journeys and creative works of Detroit’s black architects through a series of videos, photographs, maps, and tours. Kutil's project, Black Bottom Street View aims to connect Detroit residents with the Burton Historic Collection’s photographs of the former Black Bottom neighborhood, and is also a 2016 Knight Arts Challenge winner.

Saundra Little is a registered architect and founder and principal of Centric Design Studio, an architecture firm based in midtown Detroit. Her firm specializes in office, retail, healthcare, and multifamily design. She holds a bachelors and masters degree from Lawrence Technological University, is a past president of the National Organization of Minority Architects - Detroit Chapter [NOMA-D], a board member of the Detroit Creative Corridor Center, and past board member of the AIA Detroit.

Karen Burton is a marketing consultant to architects, engineers, and artists who combines her architectural design and entrepreneurial experience to help businesses grow to their full potential. She is also founder and president of SpaceLab Detroit, a new coworking space opening soon in downtown Detroit. Karen has a bachelor of science degree in architecture from the Taubman College of Architecture + Urban Planning at the University of Michigan, studied business administration at Wayne State University, and is a board member of the Detroit Chapters of the National Association of Minority Architects and National Association of Women in Construction.

Emily Kutil is a designer, adjunct professor of architecture at the University of Detroit Mercy, and a member of the We the People of Detroit Community Research Collective.

The program is moderated by Jessica A.S. Letaw, who enjoys working on, thinking over, and telling stories about architecture. Jessica's past day jobs included design/build and construction firms. She lives in Ann Arbor with her rescue hound, Henry, and keeps herself out of trouble by volunteering for the Ann Arbor Summer Festival and other local events. She enjoys reading, gardening, and well-made White Russians.

Don't miss this opportunity to explore the history and continuing legacy of local black architects in Michigan and beyond.

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Kit Homes of Ann Arbor: A Historical Tour

Fri, 05/26/2017 - 10:37am

Join kit house researchers Andrew and Wendy Mutch and learn about the fascinating history of catalog and kit homes, including Michigan's role in the kit house industry. The presentation explores the steps of buying and building a catalog house through the story of one Ann Arbor family's home. Attendees are taken on a photographic tour of some of the 200+ catalog and kit houses located in and around Ann Arbor. Andrew and Wendy Mutch are kit house enthusiasts, researchers and owners of a 1926 Sears Roebuck “Hamilton” kit house in Novi.