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News August 2015

Detroit’s Lafayette Park designated a National Historic Landmark

August 17, 2015

The National Park Service has named Lafayette Park in Detroit a National Historic Landmark, calling it “one of the earliest planned and most fully-realized urban renewal projects of the mid-twentieth century.” The site, which includes three high-rises, a collection of low-rise townhomes, a shopping center, school and park, is also the largest collection of Mies van der Rohe designed buildings in the world. The designated property draws a close resemblance to a local Mies project: the Colonnade Park and Pavilion Apartments in Newark, NJ. Although Lafayette Park did not begin construction until 1961, one year after Colonnade Park was completed, it was designed in 1946 and is considered the prototype of the two projects. The Detroit and Newark projects share architectural elements (flat-slab concrete construction, aluminum curtain walls, and clear glazing with AC units integrated within the spandrels), as well as conceptual approaches to urban planning. Lafayette Park came much closer to realizing the full vision for the urban renewal site, but both are urban developments that remain successful, viable, in-demand residences decades after their arrival. Despite the many similarities, Colonnade Park has only just begun the process of being officially recognized as a significant historic resource in our region. A Certificate of Eligibility was issued by the New Jersey State Historic Preservation Office in 2014, which signifies that the site is considered eligible for New Jersey and National Registers, however it is not yet listed. 

Lafayette Towers, part of Lafayette Park National Historic Landmark. Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, 1961-1965. Photo: Quinn Evans Architecture
Colonnade Apartments, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Newark, NJ, 1960. Image: Wikipedia Commons/ hudconja.