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College for Creative Studies (Center for Creative Studies)

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Center for Creative Studies
1972–1975, William Kessler and Associates. 245 E. Kirby Ave.
  • (Photograph by Balthazar Korab)

Composed of a 32 × 32–foot modular structural system of precast-concrete components with enlarged cylindrical columns to carry the mechanical and electrical utilities, the building resembles a Tinker Toy construction. It was built as art and music schools for the Society of Arts and Crafts and the Detroit Community Music School, the present-day College for Creative Studies.

Founded in 1906 and incorporated in 1915, the society patterned itself after nineteenth-century English designer William Morris with the goal of reinstituting a standard of beauty in articles of everyday, practical use. The society sought to stimulate an interest in design and handicrafts and to provide a market for the crafts. Its early members included George Gough Booth, Albert Kahn, H. J. Maxwell Grylls, Frank Baldwin, William Buck Stratton, Mary Chase Perry Stratton, Hiram Walker, and William D. Laurie.

The society's School Art Guild occupied rented and remodeled quarters until 1916, when it moved into a stuccoed medieval-styled cottage building on Watson Street. Designed by Stratton and Grylls, it had salesrooms, galleries, workshops, and a theater. This building was replaced in 1958 with a glass-walled building surrounded by a brick screen wall that created a courtyard. It was designed by Yamasaki, Leinweber and Associates and erected here at 245 E. Kirby Avenue. The present College for Creative Studies was designed by Kessler (1924–2003) and relates to the Brutalist architecture of Paul Rudolph's Endo Laboratories (1962–1964) in Garden City, New York. The College for Creative Studies, and the complex as a whole, is an indication of the importance of design in the Motor City.

Writing Credits

Kathryn Bishop Eckert

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