Not enough has been written about the Michigan Building. Even the name itself implies a degree of anonymity; far less specification or importance than is warranted, given the story.
It is, I think, the most magnificently heartbreaking building I have even seen.
The entire structure is a manifestation of Eros and Thanatos – a true symbol of the sheer amount of love (energy; resources) a city can pour into her landscape, only to later lay out snares; to entrap herself, gut herself, lay her own skin stretched flat under the sun – inside out – to dry, before using it as a rug.
Such is what has happened here.
With the Michigan Building.
And nobody talks enough about it.
It is baffling – and fascinating – to me that we can come together and create something of this magnitude, as a reflection of our achievement; a testament to our capabilities; a reward for our collective success; an object of enjoyment – and then, in a single lifetime – in our own – together slay the creation; rip it apart.
They left the plaster molding intact.
A crude appendage of an era barely remembered – an era that has been lost, her artifacts destroyed. Everyone who enters the space is immediately aware of its barbaric reuse: the evidence of the destruction everywhere.
Even the beams at one far end of the incredible, yawning, hollow space are still, after all these decades, clutching desperately to the heavy, dark burgundy fabric that hung over what was once the stage.
It is a ribbon, most surely from the pigtail of a child long gone missing, found weathered and tattered, tangled and caught, in a chain link fence.
To say that moment is marked in “heartbreak” is, you can understand, an understatement.
It is a gruesome reminder of what it once was, and what we have done.
Such is the Michigan Building