Architecture of/and a 50th Birthday

First & Liberty: thesis exhibition, fundraiser for Growing Hope

By Dave Askins

Ann Arbor Chronicle: May 5, 2009

A brief window of activity had given the corner some life over the weekend. But by Tuesday afternoon, the empty quiet had mostly returned in and around the greenhouse space adjoining Liberty Lofts at First and Liberty streets. The one exception was a minivan mired in a pea gravel pit just inside the open garage door entrance. A crew of guys was strategically wedging 4×8 sheets of waferboard under the wheels to help the front wheels of the vehicle – already half buried in the loose fill – gain some purchase.

The guys who were working to free the minivan – we stopped and watched long enough to see them succeed – work for the University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, and they were removing the last of the display panels used for the master’s of architecture thesis exhibit held on Saturday and Sunday. None of the thesis work remained.

It had disappeared from view just as surely as the notes of Ross Huff’s flugelhorn had faded away into Sunday’s sunny afternoon breeze. Huff, along with two comrades, provided the musical component to a parade that had wound down Liberty Street past the thesis exhibit into downtown, culminating in a cheesecake feast at Sculpture Park. The sidewalk stroll marked the 50th birthday of a Chronicle neighbor and Stopped.Watched. correspondent, Linda Diane Feldt, which she used as a fundraiser for Growing Hope.

The master’s of architecture exhibit was open to the public, and we were fortunate to stumble across a member of that public who knows something about the subject matter: local architect Marc Rueter. He pointed us in the direction of a thesis that had made an impression on him – though he hadn’t had a chance to take in all of the work at the exhibit when we talked to him. It was Javian Tang’s thesis, which Rueter described as offering “some interesting solutions to infill.”