Center for the Performing Arts at the Cranbrook Educational Community

The studio problem will be the design of a performing arts center on the historic Cranbrook campus in Bloomfield Hills, MI. Eliel Saarinen lived on the campus for more than 20 years and worked on the design with his family (Loja Gesellius, Pipsan,Eero). The buildings he designed show the trajectory from early Scandinavian nationalism to a later Prairie Style. Later additions to the campus include Rafael Moneo, Steven Holl, Lake Flato and work by our own studio. Rich in materials and craft, the Cranbrook campus balances art, landscape and architecture.

Early short study problems will focus on issues of performance and detail. These will be used to get to know each student’s personality and vision. Subsequent work will focus on precedents and an understanding of the physical Cranbrook campus. A new masterplan developed by Reed Hildebrand for the campus will be presented by Gary Hildebrand. Prior to a site visit, students will have prepared massing models so that they can evaluate their first gestures on site. This trip will allow us to spend sufficient time on the campus to understand both the history and the future of the place. We will also use this time to visit the city of Detroit. There is a new renaissance of artistic activity taking place in the city.

It is Cranbrook’s desire to strengthen its connection to the city, even as it is physically separated from downtown. The performing arts center will be a public facility situated between the two most public buildings at Cranbrook – the Art Museum and the Science Museum. One of the initial goals would be to understand how this building might address the divide.