Mies van der Rohe’s Lafayette Towers For Sale
July 16, 2012
Mies van der Rohe’s Lafayette Towers; Photo via
The collapse of the housing market five years ago still finds particular resonance in Detroit, where even iconic designs, it seems, are not immune to ruin. Mies van der Rohe’s twin high-rise blocks in Detroit’s Lafayette Park were foreclosed in February of this year and, now the city’s Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has announced that the buildings will be auctioned away to one lucky bidder on Wednesday, July 18th. The Lafayette Towers were a part of a pioneering urban renewal initiative in the early 60’s by Mies and visionary–some might say mental–urban planner Ludwig Hilberseimer, and the slab-in-the-park scheme they represent is a prime, if sleek example of the socially-minded architecture of the era.
While the auction price may result in quite the deal, there are a few caveats attached to the property. The new buyer will have to shell out $10 million to renovate the towers’ 584 units and complete an exhaustive 80-page list of renovations (including new bathtubs and installing peepholes) within 18 months. They must also deposit $2.5 million into an escrow account that the HUD can access in the event that repairs are not completed as scheduled. We won’t have to wait very long to see if a buyer emerges to save the Mies’ blocks from further decay and restore the towers to their former glory.