It is not often that architectural photographers choose to focus on the scene behind the walls of buildings. A reaction against the way modernist architecture is often represented, Thanks for the View, Mr. Mies—edited by Danielle Aubert, Lana Cavar, and Natasha Chandani—combines a portrait of residents of Lafayette Park in Detroit, Michigan with something of a journalistic enterprise, aimed at recontextualizing Mies van der Rohe's nationally recognized residential district.
Thanks for the View, Mr. Mies edited by Danielle Aubert, Lana Cavar, Natasha Chandani. Image courtesy of Corine Vermeulen.
Designed to replace the Black Bottom neighborhood, which was razed in the 1960s as part of a post-war urban renewel project, today, Lafayette Park is an affordable middle-class residential area in the heart of Detroit, architecturally distinguished by its two high-rises designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Considered to be one of few successful public housing developments of its era, Lafayette Park remains a tight-knit, integrated community occupying equally noteworthy real estate.
Mies van der Rohe's Lafayette Towers in Thanks for the View, Mr. Mies. Photography by Corine Vermeulen.
“I work with reality, that’s what my photographs are—documents of manifestations of reality.”
Thanks for the View, Mr. Mies brings together essays on Mies van der Rohe’s time in Detroit, archival materials documenting the neighborhood’s history and stories from the buildings' residents. In documenting everyday life at Lafayette Park, the photographers and editors lend new purpose and meaning to Mies’ architecture; it is an approach that few have taken and one that humanizes Mies’ work.
Keira's home in Thanks for the View, Mr. Mies. Photography by Corine Vermeulen.
Featured: 1966 Dining Arm Chairs, 1966 Coffee Table and Saarinen Coffee Table.
One of the highlights of the book is a series of at-home portraits of a number of the building’s tenants. Taken by photographer Corine Vermeulen, the photographs make use of Mies’ International Style architectural template—adopting the same fixed vantage point for every snapshot—as a means of showcasing the varied personalities of the towers’ different denizens. For Vermeulen, the format grants her license to question rather than answer: "With the camera, I can just observe. The camera observes with great detail. It’s a silent thing. It’s a mechanical eye that records. In a way, it allows me to not react, to not be emotional, to not judge, but to observe [...] The camera is a way of making questions, not answers."
“With the camera, I can just observe [...] it allows me to not react, to not be emotional, to not judge, but to observe ”
Danielle and Jonathan's home in Thanks for the View, Mr. Mies. Photography by Corine Vermeulen.
Featured: Florence Knoll Credenza.
Vermeulen’s portraits are accompanied by stories of the residents, some of whom are familiar with the iconic modernist architect and others who are not. Cutting against the grain of the standard architectural monograph, Thanks for the View, Mr. Mies successfully locates the intersection between people, architecture and community.
Two-page spread from Thanks for the View, Mr. Mies. Image courtesy of Corine Vermeulen.
For purchasing information on Thanks for the View, Mr. Mies, visit the publisher’s website. View more photographs from Thanks for the View, Mr. Mies on Corine Vermeulen's website.
All images are courtesy of Corine Vermeulen.