Last week I attended the “Archaeology and Revitalization in Detroit” sessions at the Michigan Historic Preservation Network‘s annual meeting in Detroit, on the campus of Wayne State University. The session, which was split into two parts, featured the research of several Wayne State faculty members and graduate students and Robert Chidester from the Mannik & Smith Group in Maumee, Ohio. In this post, I’ll be discussing some of the main themes of the session, focusing on the cycles of displacement and ‘renewal’ that structure the city’s history (and future).
We recently did a couple of Thomasson exercises in my class, which focuses on the politics of ‘ruin porn’ and urban exploration. It was an excellent way to help my students, mostly freshman, get to know their campus and start noticing the changes and layers in the urban environment around them. In this post, I’ll be sharing what we discovered and what I learned about using Thomassons as a teaching tool.
I was fascinated by this recent podcast and article over at 99% Invisible about “Thomassons,” architectural elements on structures or properties that no longer have a function and yet are maintained. These architectural leftovers–stairways leading to nowhere, boarded-up or bricked-up windows, telephone poles that no longer carry lines–are named after Gary Thomasson, an American baseball player who played for the Yomiuri Giants in Tokyo, Japan in the early 1980s. Thomasson was paid exorbitant amount of money for a two year contract, but lost his game in Tokyo and was benched for much of his contract (i.e. he had no function, but was maintained…ouch).