See our Best of Detroit 2020 winners.

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 letters@metrotimes.com.

Detroit Metro Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Detroit and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Detroit's true free press free.

Read the Digital Print Issue

October 21, 2020

View more issues

Newsletters

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