APTI 2022 in Detroit - Julia Schlottmann

Monday, March 27, 2023 9:42 PM | Tom Chmill (Administrator)

The 2022 Association for Preservation Technology International conference took place in the historic city of Detroit, Michigan. This year’s conference was the first in-person conference since 2019’s conference and may have contributed to the large turn-out of over 670 attendees.

For the general public, the conference kicked off with Field Sessions on Tuesday, November 7th. I had the wonderful opportunity to attend two field sessions on the first day of conference activities. In the morning, I attended F3: From Brownfield to Beauty: How Preservation and Economic Redesign Saved the Ford Rogue Plant. This session included an exterior discussion and interior tour of the Historic Ford Rogue plant which was renovated in the early 2000s, becoming one of the largest green roofs in the country with more than 10 acres of sedum covering the current F-150 productive plant (Image 1).

Image 1: The (currently dormant) green-roof on the Ford Rogue Plant.

In the afternoon, I attended a second field session, F8: Detroit’s Signature Towers: the Guardian, Book, and Fisher. This field session was one of my favorite activities of the week-long conference.  In the Guardian building, an iconic feature of the downtown Detroit skyline, we discussed the building’s need for continuous renovation due to water intrusions through the load-bearing brick façade’s lack of cavity wall between itself and the steel structure. Even with its damage, the building maintains cultural significance in the city with its Art Deco detailing (Images 2 and 3).

Image 2: Inside the lobby atrium where Art Deco tile work mesmerizes building guests.

Image 3: Inside the original bank atrium where an Art Deco horse-hair plaster ceiling awes where it’s not cracking from water damage.

The Book Tower was actively under restorative construction and the field session received an in-depth tour of notable parts of the building. Due to its grand opening in late 2022, we were not able to take any interior pictures. The interior highlights include a beautifully intricate skylight and detailed painted ceilings, all restored to all known original conditions. The exterior was similarly challenging and the design and construction team work diligently to conform to SHPO requirements in order to receive both a Federal and Michigan State Historic Tax credit (Image 4 and 5).

Image 4: Across the street view of Book Tower.

Image 5: Close up of replicated “stone” detailing throughout façade.

The third building during the Three Towers Field session was the Fisher tower, originally designed with an unlimited budget by Detroit architect Albert Kahn (Image 6). The triple height concourse housed some of the building’s famous plaster painted murals which still need renovation after significant water damage (Image 7).

Image 6: Exterior view of the Detroit architect Albert Kahn’s Fisher Tower.

Image 7: Interior concourse hallway.

I attended 6 Paper Sessions and the Keynote speaker during the next three days in Detroit learning about various topics ranging from WWII-era plane crashes to renovating the Empire State Building satellite tower to building enclosure continuity best practices to renovation challenges of Detroit’s Michigan Central Station. Exploring various locations throughout Detroit throughout the week in tours, events, or paper session talks brought much first-hand knowledge to center stage regarding preservation and the future of the industry, especially in modernly decreased population cities like Detroit. I would highly recommend attending future APTI conferences and am hoping to be able to attend APTI 2023 in Seattle.

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