Detroit Free Press from Detroit, Michigan on February 21, 1994 · Page 48
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Detroit Free Press from Detroit, Michigan · Page 48

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Detroit, Michigan
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Monday, February 21, 1994
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Page 48
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Lessee has option to purchase at lease end at price determined at inception. Security deposit (250, first month pymt, ecertse, tMte ft tabs additional down. To get total amount multiply payments by 30. Subject to 4 use tax. Excessive mileage charge it 15 per mile it 30,000 mile limitation is exceeded. Rebate to dealer where applicable. Cap cost reduction is 2000. IDMsSHBdr D3Q5E 451-2110 ON ANN ARBOR RD., 1 MILE WEST OF 1-275 IN PLYMOUTH 4 MB RAM 245 MB Hard Drive Panasonic 562 Double Speed CD ROM SoundBlaster 16 CD Groliers Encyclopedia Stereo Speakers Super VGA Monitor 1 MB Super VGA Video Card DOS 6.2 Windows Mouse gnk $139900 " "".mi ""'' i ROCHESTER ""1853-2240 m r S- 1,309 SmartLease Plus O 1-94 & 8 MILE 343-5300 Cadi l l a c. BRAND NEW 1994 CIERA SEDAN "SPECIAL EDITION" air conditioning, stereo, tinted glass, rear defogger, floor mats and more. S Ik. 36 15 PER MONTH nlna nlatH . H...nut..ln lu. A. i .1 lo purchase at a price lo be negotiated w Action Motors at wear and tear. To figure total pay men I multiply tunes 36. RD, LIVONIA n Tuata., Wed. Pri. 9- . m Thuri, 9-9 Seat. IO-4 CHRYSLER LHS 24 MONTH $CQ OOOWN Ow? 24 MONTH 10 DOWN 3229s 24 MONTH 20 DOWN 99 NEW 1994 CARAVAN Hi-back bucket seats, sunscreen glass, tilt steering, cruise control, 7 pass, seating, auto trans., V6, rear window defroster, air, stereo plus much more. Stk. 2 AT THIS PRICE 40 OTHERS AVAILABLE AT SIMILAR SAVINGS only 18914 rfcn HUN in 962-3322 Pi 9 1 rrrn rwrr a 1 1 HUGH GRANNUMDelroit Free Press Vernier School is slated for demolition. Saving it would require $1.6 million to bring it up to code. More gaps in the Kahn legacy f Albert Kahn was Detroit's greatest architect, how come we keep tearing down his buildings? Another two Kahn build ings will have been lost by summer in the Grosse Pointes alone. Earlier this year, a former Oldsmobile dealership on Jefferson Avenue in Grosse Pointe Park was demolished. And the village of Grosse Pointe Shores has now decided to tear down Vernier School. Neither building was a landmark, and neither loss threatens to wipe out Kahn's prodigious legacy. Still, the losses raise questions that deserve Albert Kahn answers from anyone who cares about Detroit's architectural heritage a group, I sadly reflect, that is depressingly small. First, why these buildings now? Well, both the Olds dealership and the Vernier School were vacant for years. The Vernier School ceased to be an active school around 30 years ago, says Grosse Pointes Shores village manager Michael Kenyon. In the years since, the village has used it for elections and occasionally for municipal office space. But updating it to meet codes of today, especially the sweeping American with Disabilities Act, looks prohibitively expensive. Among the problems: asbestos and the lack of an elevator to meet ADA requirements. Kenyon estimated the cost of renovations at about $1.6 million. Note this: The Vernier School is obsolete only in terms of modern codes, not in its basic structural soundness. Kahn, a German immigrant who became the leading architect for auto pioneer Henry Ford, built his buildings the old- 6F Business Monday Detroit 0 '".. 1 V-pljfi ininwnortiiHiMMnliKrTTWin Actions in the Pointes argue for evaluation of the architect's remaining buildings fashioned way, to last for centuries. Vernier School probably could. But Kenyon is correct about modern codes: Why write them if we don't intend to enforce them? Perhaps if the school had been more architecturally significant, the village would have made the effort to save it. Not long ago, when it came time to renovate or replace the Grosse Pointe Shores municipal building, the village did opt to renovate. But that was an acknowledged Kahn masterwork, with its lofty arched windows, overhanging eaves and decorative brickwork. That renovation cost the village some $1.3 million more, Kenyon says, than it would have cost to demolish the building and build a larger, modern one from scratch. But the village decided the extra money was worth it. So what's the status of the rest of Kahn's work? Well, few architects built as much as Albert Kahn, who died in 1942. Frank Lloyd Wright built some 400 buildings during his long life, far outreaching most other architects. Kahn produced an incredible 1,900 buildings John Gallagher Free Press February 21, 1994 probably a record for a Michigan architect, if not for all archi tects. Many, of course, were routine industrial projects cranked out by Kahn's designers with assembly line efficiency. But the list also includes jewels such as the magnifi cent Fisher Building, General Motors headquarters and many buildings on the University of Michigan main campus. Kahn, indeed, seems to be everywhere. From the Casino on Belle Isle to Ford Motor Co.'s Rouge plant, Kahn stamped Detroit with his own vision as no other architect has. That vision blended modern efficiency with a visual appeal that bespoke sturdy, traditional values. But what was modern in 1920 isn't necessarily up to date today. Some of the auto factories that revolutionized the industry between 1900 and 1920 seem obsolete today. Many others were left behind in the general abandonment of Detroit and fell into ruin. Some of Kahn's best buildings have been saved for future use by thoughtful redesigns. His Edsel and Eleanor Ford house is now a museum; his own home on Grand Boulevard became the headquarters of the Detroit Urban League. The Detroit Free Press building, soon to be vacated by the paper, may wind up as classrooms for the Detroit schools system. Bill Demiene, chief of architectural design at Albert Kahn Associates, the firm that survived its founder, says we haven't reached that crisis stage where we wonder whether we're going to have a legacy of Kahn buildings. But it may be good to catalog what we have left, and decide which ones are worth saving. Good preservation work begins with such homework. No building lasts forever. But given the sort of schlock we build ' today, Kahn's work ought to last longer than most.

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