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Southfield Town Center (Prudential Town Center)
The center is significant from a city planning perspective. Similar developments in other major U.S. metropolitan centers are considered by some planners to represent the late-twentieth-century stage in the development of the American suburb, which has historically been viewed as largely residential outgrowths of specific urban centers.
Southfield Town Center is a sixty-nine-acre suburban development of gleaming glass and steel commercial towers located approximately twelve miles from central Detroit. The complex is composed of four office towers, a luxury residential tower, and a hotel. Ranging in scale from twelve to thirty-three stories, each building represented the latest, if not the most innovative, trends in modern commercial high-rise design. The four office towers and the Westin Hotel are variations on a theme of steel framing and bronze-gold-tinted wall panels. The twenty-eight-story polygonal tower with the top third of one corner stepped back is 2000 Town Center. Crosses brace the narrow ends of the 3000 Town Center tower, while 4000 Town Center has rounded corners and horizontal banding. The broad convex glass wall of the front of the Westin Hotel rests on columns. The 5000 Town Center building undulates, rather like a figure eight.
Critics have often claimed that suburbs are vast wastelands with no definable centers, identities, or sense of community. Over the years, however, many suburban areas have become increasingly independent of their parent cities and, as a result, have evolved definite urban commercial centers. Southfield Town Center, like similar centers, rises in the midst of extensive parking facilities, surrounded by quiet residential districts, and is served by efficient transportation networks. The organizational patterns of developments of this nature may appear to be in direct contrast to those of the traditional American city. These new cities seem to lack the integrated social and economic qualities of their models. Nevertheless, the manner in which land or space is utilized at any particular time is a reflection of popular societal values. In this respect, Southfield Town Center, in its planning and architecture, is a significant product of late-twentieth-century American society.
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