Downtown and Midtown Detroit last week hosted an international conference of the Society of Architectural Historians. Record numbers reportedly attended the four-day event. The Society of Landscape Historians held their conference in conjunction with SAH, both conferences bringing speakers and attendees from around the country and the world.
The conference was sponsored by the Michigan State Historic Preservation Network and the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MHSDA
). Headquartered in the historic Westin Book Cadillac, the events kicked off with a Historic Preservation Seminar on Wednesday morning. The seminar included a three-hour bus tour of the city, with stops in Eastern Market, Midtown, and the Corktown neighborhoods. On Thursday evening there was a sold out reception at the McGregor Center on the Wayne State University campus.
Designed by Detroit architect Minoru Yamasaki
in 1962, the McGregor Center is one of several Yamasaki designed buildings on the campus. The reception was followed by an awards ceremony at the historic Detroit Public Library.
The conference included three days of speaker sessions by a diverse range of researchers and scholars. Several of the sessions related specifically to the history and architecture of Detroit, including a session on Detroit architect Albert Kahn
, and a lively roundtable discussion on "Reimagining Detroit," moderated by Detroit Free Press
journalist John Gallagher.
On Friday night, attendees were encouraged to get out and explore Detroit, with events held throughout the city, including a screening of the "Pruitt Igoe Myth" at the Cass City Cinema, and a pub crawl downtown led by local residents. On Friday and Saturday attendees had a variety of bus tours to choose from that took them throughout the Metro area to view some of our exceptional architecture. Included were tours of the GM Tech Center, Cranbrook, Lafayette Park as well as tours that visited several sites of Art Deco architecture and modern architecture.
Next year the conference continues it's Rust Belt tour, with a visit to Buffalo, New York.