Detroit’s infamous theater-turned-parking garage sold at auction

Detroit's crumbling Michigan Theatre has fallen into disrepair since its 1926 construction. (Hermann Schleicher-Roevenstrunck via Flickr)

Detroit’s Michigan Theatre has fallen into disrepair since its 1926 construction. (Hermann Schleicher-Roevenstrunck via Flickr)

Detroit’s Michigan Theatre remains iconic, but not for the reasons that made it so during its early 20th century heyday. Now the opulent 1926 concert hall holds parked cars instead of theater-goers. Will it remain a symbol of Detroit’s struggle to recover from long-term disinvestment, or could it become emblematic of the city’s resilience?

Michigan Theatre, an urban ruin in Detroit. (Bob Julius via Flickr)

(Bob Julius / Flickr)

This week ArchDaily looked at what might become of “Detroit’s most remarkable ruin” in an article that was also published on The Huffington Post. Last month, wrote Kate Abbey-Lambertz, the building was pulled from public auction and was purchased by developers Boydell Group for an undisclosed amount.

Though its infamous use as a parking garage has grabbed headlines (and its crumbling beauty served as a backdrop in Eminem’s 8 Mile), the building still hosts events. Just this weekend a skateboarding competition and concert took over the space. (One band’s bassist knocked an event photographer’s drone down with a beer can.)

But what would it take to turn the Michigan Theatre into something more permanent than a makeshift rock club? Wondered ArchDaily:

Will it ever again look like it did in 1926? Probably not, but that doesn’t mean it won’t have a vibrant future.

“Creative destruction is very much a part of our history,” [Preservation Detroit’s executive director Claire] Nowak-Boyd said, “and is perhaps more central to our story than that of any other American city… This site encapsulates that.”

Another symbol of Detroit’s bygone glory days recently got a second look from designers. A “Reanimate the Ruins” competition envisioned a brighter future for the massive Packard Plant site.

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