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  1. #1

    Default Ford Auditorium coming down?

    I was on the people mover yesterday and went by Hart Plaza and noticed a big Adamo sign on the Ford Auditorium.

    Looks like its coming down soon...

    On one hand, I never cared for the place, but all this senseless demolition in the city has got to stop!

  2. #2

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    Why call it senseless? Detroit needs to get rid of as many distinctive, historic buildings as possible so the future (whenever they get around to building it) can be developed with generic steel & glass-clad buildings that would feel just as familiar as anything in Philly, San Jose or any other mid-size American city.

  3. #3

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Malcove Magnesia View Post
    Why call it senseless? Detroit needs to get rid of as many distinctive, historic buildings as possible so the future (whenever they get around to building it) can be developed with generic steel & glass-clad buildings that would feel just as familiar as anything in Philly, San Jose or any other mid-size American city.
    Hear hear!

  5. #5

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    I would agree with this sentiment if it weren't about an ugly riverfront auditorium with bad acoustics. Tear it down, but something that looks good there.

  6. #6

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    Adieu Ford Auditorium! Thanks for 50 years of service. This will ruin the skyline of Hart Plaza. The architect who designed Hart Plaza and the auditorium will be very upset!

  7. #7

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    I'm not too broken up about the demolition of Ford Auditorium...

    ...but it always astounds me that no matter how dire the budget situation, the City of Detroit can, without fail, effortlessly find hundreds of thousands of dollars for demolition. That scares the shit out of me.

  8. #8

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    That building needed to go...it had no architectural significance....kind of like the rest of the developments along the river front....

  9. #9
    agrahlma Guest

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    Just think -- more room for the Hoedown next year -- yippie ki-yay!! Augh!!!!!

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Malcove Magnesia View Post
    Why call it senseless? Detroit needs to get rid of as many distinctive, historic buildings as possible so the future (whenever they get around to building it) can be developed with generic steel & glass-clad buildings that would feel just as familiar as anything in Philly, San Jose or any other mid-size American city.
    What about this one they cleverly designed to look l ike a shipping container?


  11. #11

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    The one redeeming feature of Ford Auditorium is that it blocked the view of the new terminal.

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by ghettopalmetto View Post
    I'm not too broken up about the demolition of Ford Auditorium...

    ...but it always astounds me that no matter how dire the budget situation, the City of Detroit can, without fail, effortlessly find hundreds of thousands of dollars for demolition. That scares the shit out of me.
    Yup. A few years back I found a list of the largest demolition contractors by revenue. Several were based in Detroit.

  13. #13

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    A very good article about why we should preserve the building:
    http://onemorespoke.blogspot.com/201...ying-past.html

  14. #14

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    I'm not heartbroken over the demo of Ford Auditorium. It was an eyesore that was built in the 50's, anything built from the 50's to the 80's was built pretty butt ugly. Hart Plaza needs to be renovated badly and knocking down this building is a start.

  15. #15

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    I am seldom on the "tear it down" side of things, even when its for "ugly" 50's or 60's buildings. After all, lots of what we now feel were ugly modernizations of beautiful early 20th century buildings took place because those old buildings were considered ugly at one point. Whose to say that the Ford will not be considered a gem in the future? But if there is no viable reuse for it, why leave it standing? I have mixed feelings.

  16. #16

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    Detroit OKs plans to raze Ford Auditorium

    Darren A. Nichols / The Detroit News

    Detroit —The Detroit City Council approved a plan Wednesday that will raze the historic Ford Auditorium, the onetime home of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra that's been largely vacant for two decades.
    The council unanimously approved, by a 7-0 vote, a $754,000 demolition contract to Adamo Demolition of Detroit to tear down the facility that's been largely vacant for more than two decades.‪ Council members Kwame Kenyatta and JoAnn Watson, who questioned the plan, were absent.
    The approval came despite some concerns over plans to replace it with an amphitheater. Some members are concerned the site will take the path of Tiger Stadium or the Hudson's department store and remain a vacant lot.
    Council President Charles Pugh said it made sense to approve the demolition but ask what's going to happen next.
    "It's been a long time coming," said Pugh, whose high school graduation in 1989 was held in the facility. "That's prime property and it's right on the riverfront. For what we want for that riverfront, which is family-friendly activity, and not an empty desolate empty space that's been sitting there for a generation literally, it's just time for this. It was the right thing to do."
    Karla Henderson, a group executive who oversees planning, breathed a sign of relief after the vote.
    "It is time to capitalize on all the promise of our riverfront and I applaud City Council for working with us toapprove the demolition ofFord Auditorium," Mayor Dave Bing said in a statement. "This represents an important step forward in eliminating blight and allowing us to utilize one of our greatest assets."
    Bing wants to raze the auditorium, built in 1955, and construct a 5,000-seat amphitheater on Hart Plaza.
    City officials say the plan has the blessing of the Ford family, who donated money for the auditorium that once was home to the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.
    Councilwoman Saunteel Jenkins said today's vote is a boost for the city.
    "It's an indication of what's to come," Jenkins said. "Ford Auditorium has been standing empty for over two decades. The fact we're now moving forward now means we're ready for new things in the city. This was a good step forward."
    The facility has been largely vacant since the orchestra left in 1989.‪ Since its closure, plans for the auditorium's reuse have come and gone, including proposals for a Comerica bank headquarters, a Gospel Music Hall of Fame and an aquarium. The only reuse that stuck — for a year — was a homeless shelter in the mid-1990s.‪
    "The symbolism of seeing cranes in Detroit, I don't think you can measure how good that makes people feel. That alone has measure to it," said Council President Pro Tem Gary Brown.
    "I really didn't have a lot of doubt that it wasn't going to pass. People need to be patient and allow us to do our due diligence so that we get questions answered and we don't make a mistake. I'm glad to see it come down. Way back in Coleman Young's days, they tried to get the thing down and put up another structure, and it's been empty ever since."
    ‪‪
    [email protected]


    From The Detroit News: http://detnews.com/article/20110317/...#ixzz1MG8k7Knj
    It happens so much. A thread started and an artcle is linked to it, but after a white the article disappears into the mist of oblivion.... So I posted this tect here for eternity. (Emphasis mine. That last part is not entirely the feeling I get seeing cranes....)
    Last edited by Whitehouse; May-13-11 at 01:45 PM.

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Planner3357 View Post
    That building needed to go...it had no architectural significance....kind of like the rest of the developments along the river front....
    Your vision of today was the same one they had 50 years ago when they tore down Old City Hall, the Hammond and Majestic Buildings, ripped the guts out of the old Fisher and (later) the Michigan Theatre... tore down the Romanesque Penn Station in New York, all "so we won't have to look at all that old (or modern) stuff anymore"....

    At some point in the future, when mid 20th century architecture once again becomes fashionable... cooler heads than us will be asking... "what the hell were they thinking when they tore down the better examples of mid 20th Century architecture"....

    Maybe one day we will actually LEARN the mistakes of history... so that we stop repeating them...

  18. #18

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    How is senseless demolition? It might be the most sensible the city has ever done, why should auditorium with crappy acoustics be saved? Forget the architecture the building simply can not do the job it is designed for this should have happened the day DSO left.

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by MSUguy View Post
    How is senseless demolition? It might be the most sensible the city has ever done, why should auditorium with crappy acoustics be saved? Forget the architecture the building simply can not do the job it is designed for this should have happened the day DSO left.
    Devil's Advocate: Does the building actually have to serve as an auditorium? Is it possible to repurpose the structure? Is there something physically limiting the building from becoming say a marketplace? Or maybe a visitors/tourist information center?

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by iheartthed View Post
    Devil's Advocate: Does the building actually have to serve as an auditorium? Is it possible to repurpose the structure? Is there something physically limiting the building from becoming say a marketplace? Or maybe a visitors/tourist information center?
    You mean, other than the sloped interior floor, lack of windows, and physical footprint?

  21. #21

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    I agree with Ihearthed... Detroit does have enough performance venues... adaptive reuse is the name of the game!

    If some of Detroit's great mansions can be adaptively reused such as the Whitney (restaurant) or the Hecker (law firm offices)... then why can't Ford Auditorium??

    I always thoght it would be cool to subdivide the auditorium into conference rooms, and make it part of the Cobo expansion, in a manner of speaking. If you're just there for a conference (and not a convention)... why don't they just use Ford Auditorium for separate conference space... and convert the entire lower Cobo Arena area (future designation as conference rooms)... into another 50,000 sq. ft. of convention space to complement the 100,000 sq. ft. Michigan Hall across the lower level atrium from the (former) arena.

    They could construct 2 levels of meeting rooms into the Ford's auditorium, and leave the tall entrance lobby intact. They could even provide a kitchen for catering space.

    And since the auditorum is sitting on a parking deck... parking shouldn't be a problem either.

    GP... I know you're very familiar with engineering, et al... but do some checking on theatre adaptive reuse... the Fillmore (State) in Detroit had its sloped floor terraced, and Chuck Forbes said that it could be re-sloped without too much trouble.

    The Belmont Theatre in Chicago was once convereted from a theatre to a Bowling Alley... and later converted back to a theatre.... slope... no slope... slope. The same was true for the Loew's Kansas City Midland Theatre... theatre... bowling alley... performance arts.

    The Brooklyn Paramount had part of its' slope removed to allow for a basketball court under a Louis XIV ornate plasterwork ceiling...which can also be re-sloped for future theatre use.

    And if the building were converted to meeting rooms... what good are windows anyway?
    Last edited by Gistok; May-13-11 at 03:03 PM.

  22. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gistok View Post
    I agree... Detroit does have enough performance venues... adaptive reuse is the name of the game!

    If some of Detroit's great mansions can be adaptively reused such as the Whitney (restaurant) or the Hecker (law firm offices)... then why can't Ford Auditorium??
    Ford Auditorium presents so many challenges to proper spatial relationships, it's not even funny.

    The Auditorium has no physical relation to anything around it. It's situated on a roadway that's too wide, set too far back from the sidewalk, is surrounded by nothing but some scattered trees, and pays no respect to the Renaissance Center, Hart Plaza, or the riverfront. It's as if the damned thing just fell from outer space and happened to land on that spot.

    In addition, that front elevation is something hideous. There is nothing to suggest that it is a venue for fine and performing arts. In fact, it looks like one of those God-awful Bose 901 speakers--and from what people here have posted, the acoustics are probably just about as good. Rather than embrace it's arriving patrons and welcome them inside, that front elevation SCREAMS at you, and it says, "Stay the hell out!".

    Ford Auditorium is a fine example of bunker architecture, conceived in the days when we were shitting ourselves on a daily basis re: the Soviets. Ironically, in doing so, we copied their architecture to a T. Can you honestly look at Ford Auditorium, compare it to a place like say, Hill Auditorium in Ann Arbor, then maintain that the former is some kind of masterwork of modernist architecture? What a crock of shit!

    Modernist architecture was all about living in fear and blandness, anyway. It began the movement of constructing everything as cheaply as possible. Modernism was the onset of "the building as a machine for living". It ignored its environment, segregated people, and raped souls. One can make a case that this entire movement was a step toward mechanizing society, removing any vestige of artistry and the feminine elements from our architecture. It's entire purpose was to turn its back on the city, and turn life indoors, and into the automobile. I'm not sure that keeping such buildings around is a healthy attitude for a place that seeks to make itself more liveable.

    Ford Auditorium has no redeeming qualities. Tear that schitt down.
    Last edited by ghettopalmetto; May-13-11 at 03:13 PM.

  23. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by ghettopalmetto View Post
    You mean, other than the sloped interior floor, lack of windows, and physical footprint?
    The building itself only has one real use due to these things, as an auditorium or some other sort of live performance venue. It is a unique building, but with multiple attempts and millions poured in over the years at correcting the (still) poor acoustics it is hard to make a case at trying again, even with the technology available today. A lot of the circumstances surrounding the demolition (i.e. the economy) are rather disappointing, but it is probably bound to fall eventually.

  24. #24

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    I used to love watching the fireworks reflect off of the facited granite riverside wall of the building.

  25. #25

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    DetroitPlanner, the dark faceted granite surfaces are a pearl blue Swedish Granite... a material and texture ihat is likely too costly to be used in any practical application today.

    Esp1986... later when I have time I will post 1/2 dozen auditorium images that were "adaptively reused".... some will surprise you!

    GP... we're all entitled to our opinions about aesthetics... I agree that much of the architecture of that era is ugly... hell I even think that Lafayette Park is ugly... but the "Miesian's" (and LP residents) on this forum would go apoplyctic with rage over such a statement. Whenever I bring foreigners to Detroit they absolutely HATE Lafayette Park, and yet it's considered a mid 20th century masterpiece... go figure.

    As for Ford Auditorium, I hate the interior (and they did NOT spend millions on trying to improve the acoustics... I'd be surprised if they spent $50,000 adding those sound panels). The only part of the building I really like is the exterior textured blue granite that DetroitPlanner mentioned. It would be nice to save it if possible (but saving architectural building features is not a Detroit habit (just look at the old Detroit City Hall statuary that was recently uncovered burried underground somewhere).

    I'm just one of those people who thinks that in 50 years.... it may be considered a masterpiece of mid 20th century architecture... even though the majority of people today hate it.

    Back in 1960 when they were going to change the Fisher theatre from movie to Broadway use... keeping the impossibly wonerful vermillion and gold Mayanesque plasterwork wasn't even one of the options they considered, and Detroit lost its' 2nd most spectacular movie palace (the first being the Fox).

    Tastes change... and that's my main point for keeping it, or finding a reuse.... especially since it is still in remarkable condition on the inside.

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