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Site 04: McGregor Memorial

Conference Center

Library Street Collective
May 19,2022 - June 16,2022

May 19, 2022 June 16, 2022

Artists: David Altmejd, Olga de Amaral, Radcliffe Bailey, Judy Bowman, Elmgreen & Dragset, Sam Friedman, Matt Kleberg, Paul Kremer, Alicja Kwade, and Erwin Wurm.

Library Street Collective presents the fourth iteration of SITE: Art and Architecture in the Digital Space, set against Wayne State University’s McGregor Memorial Conference Center, a masterpiece by world-renowned architect Minoru Yamasaki. With its striking atrium, sculpture garden, and dramatic columns, many still consider the McGregor one of Yamasaki’s most distinguished works. The pavilion’s deep overhangs and pattern of linked inverted triangles contrast to the glass facets capping the atrium. In describing the building, Yamasaki claimed that he tried “to create a beautiful silhouette against the sky, a richness of texture and form, and a sense of peace and serenity.” In the buildings that he designed following his trip across Europe and Asia—and inspired by his new insight regarding humanist design—one of the first was the McGregor Memorial Conference Center. The focus on integrating function with what the architect would later term as “delight, serenity, and surprise” continued to inform his work, both in his later designs for the Wayne State campus and elsewhere. This humanistic approach, which was also championed by New York area architects Edward Durrell Stone and Phillip Johnson, would later become known as New Formalism or Neo-Palladianism. It is within this context that we examine the works of artists David Altmejd, Olga de Amaral, Radcliffe Bailey, Judy Bowman, Elmgreen & Dragset, Sam Friedman, Matt Kleberg, Paul Kremer, Alicja Kwade, and Erwin Wurm.

In the decade leading up to the McGregor commission, the architect adhered to the strict modernist principles prescribed by Mies Van der Rohe and Corbusier, but his time abroad inspired a personal shift through which he realized that “beauty, elegance, and human welfare trumped strict adherence to formal principles.” The Architectural Record declared that the McGregor was “as graceful and sun-filled as a dream palace,” confirming Yamasaki’s success in creating a structure that was in harmony with both man and environment. The architect’s transformation from formalism to humanism in design mirrors a concept inherent to the idea of the dream palace: a place that presents us with the mystery of the subconscious and a confrontation with what lies beyond the boundaries of our limited awareness.

As a means to positively impact our community, Library Street Collective will be donating 10% of the proceeds from any works sold during SITE: McGregor Conference Center to Humble Design Detroit, a nonprofit organization that transforms lives and communities by custom designing and fully furnishing home interiors of families, veterans, and individuals who are emerging from homelessness. Since their origination in 2009, the group has furnished over 1,400 homes in the metro Detroit area.


1274 Library St
Detroit, MI 48226
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