Blown minds 

Best Building to Blow Up
The Renaissance Center

In 1984, searching for a way to describe the unearthly landscape of architect-developer-capitalist John Portman’s Westin Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles, literary critic Fredric Jameson coined the term “postmodern hyperspace.” According to Jameson, the Bonaventure and its sister developments like the Ren Cen produced spaces so new that people lacked the “cognitive maps” —spatial brains — to navigate these insular worlds enclosed by glass and devoid of context, with their obscured entrances and continually rising and falling escalators and elevators.

Metro Times readers don’t need Jameson to recall the ambivalence toward the Ford Family or John Portman’s mall-inspired politics, the stark disjoint between “their” vision of Detroit’s plastic future and the true revolution that a rebirth of the city would necessitate. And despite the new GM proposals (a river promenade, new access roads, blowing up the berm) to make the building accessible and (assumedly) human, an understanding of what some well-placed plastic explosives could do still seems appropriate.

But for those of us who grew up in spaces like the Ren Cen (Detroit’s techno generation), there is no spatial vertigo. And the faux-revolution, held out by the Ford family in the aftermath of the riots, really was a renaissance.

And though it may grate against our lives, as locals we should, as Jameson put it, “grow new organs, to expand our sensorium and our body to some new, yet unimaginable, perhaps ultimately impossible, dimensions.”

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Detroit Metro Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Metro Times Press Club for as little as $5 a month.

Read the Digital Print Issue

January 19, 2022

View more issues


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In Detroit

© 2022 Detroit Metro Times - Contact Us

Website powered by Foundation