I didn’t realize how many times it passed by, completely unnoticed by my naked eyes, until my eyes began to wander through the tall glass windows of the common room into the silent night sky. It stands in solitary under the envelope of darkness, whispering through space in the language of its golden glow.
Over the past five weeks, I’ve spent countless hours in the common room – planning my latest Downtown adventures, recreating my favorite Chinese dishes, stuffing and re-stuffing all my weekend groceries into the tiny fridge shared by the eight of us – but I’ve never closely examined the magnificent façade of the Fisher Building, never wondered about the story behind its solemnity.
Its golden gleam grew stronger and more luminous, like a blazing flame. The Fisher Building shines as one of Detroit’s brightest architecture gems. Designed by the renowned architect Albert Kahn in 1928, it embodies American craftsmanship at its finest. However, it is casted away to the other side of Detroit; it looks on the ever-changing skylines of the heart of Detroit, where the five-building rosette of the Renaissance Center stands brazenly along the Detroit International Riverfront, where the Guardian Building stretches into the starry night, boldly displaying its art moderne designs, where the white marble façade of One Woodward beams like a treasured pearl…
I’ve come to realize, the whispers of its golden glow speak the story of Detroit’s neighborhoods. Like the Fisher Building, they were built with great anticipation at pinnacle of Detroit’s industrial boom, but bared witness to the city’s great exodus, and endured through its agonizing decay. They are overlooked by the rest of Detroit, exposed to the national media, examined as a case study, but they all share one identity that has never changed: community.
Driving through the neighborhoods of Detroit on the rutted streets, it is not hard to find demolished homes, collapsed roofs, overgrown lots, and empty storefronts. However, after more than six weeks of being a part of the city that rises from the ashes, these sights no longer give me a sense of endless despair, because I am certain, behind each crumbling property and vacant land, there will be someone determined to resurrect it.