Adaptive irony

I look at that image and I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. We work as heritage consultants and the destruction of a heritage building in that way is heart breaking, although it interestingly demonstrates that adaptive reuse can be a more complex issue than it appears at first.

On the other hand I think the result is also beautiful in its own way, an aesthetic for a post apocalyptic future. Or maybe it’s just because all my life I’ve loved ruins and urban exploration. The building is the Michigan Theatre in Detroit built in the 1930s (irony of ironies) on the site of Henry Ford’s original workshop where he built his first automobile in 1892.

His second factory is now a museum.

And the third Ford factory where the Model T was churned out at the rate of 1000 a day is still standing and used as a warehouse although it is now squeezed up behind a typically awful mall.

Well he did say history is bunk… except what he really said was “History is more or less bunk.” He made the statement in a 1916 interview with the Chicago Tribune but that comment has since been adapted for a more absolutist age with a shorter attention span.

Check out detroityes and detroitblog for more great Detroit ruins.


  1. Lucazoid
    Posted 22 Sep ’06 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    hi ian and wendy!
    that first one is an AMAZING image…

    i recently put up some detroit pix from my journey there a few years back.
    and for the story

  2. Ian Milliss
    Posted 22 Sep ’06 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    Lucas, I was going to email you about detroitblog but I see from your story that you know about it already, it’s another perfect example of the sites that I think are the best art of our time although I’m sure the guy who does it would never describe it as art.

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