24 Hours in the Ren Cen is the first in a pair of essays examining John Portman’s Renaissance Center in Detroit, a polarizing classic of 70s interior urbanism. I booked a room in the on-site Mariott Hotel and explored the complex for 24 hours. The resulting piece was published in MONU #21. 

Leaving the bar (and tired of spending money) I relax in one of the ovoid sitting areas. At first I people watch, but as the foot traffic slows to a trickle, I read and enjoy the quiet. It is a bit melancholy, but not unpleasantly so. This melancholy that permeates the Ren Cen’s empty centrifuge of walkways late at night might be construed as a failure. But then again, this emptiness, too, is urban; the activity on every city street ebbs and flows.

Photo by Jordan Hicks, drawing by John Portman & Associates