History of the Lafayette Building
The Lafayette Building, located at 144 West Lafayette, rose in the Detroit skyline in 1923. Designed by C. Howard Crane and standing 14 floors tall, the unusual v-shape of the building allowed natural light to stream into the atrium. Over time, as the city struggled socially and economically, the building lost tenants, eventually falling into ruin. By 1997, the store owners left the building. The demolition of the Lafayette Building began in October of 2009. By January 2010, the building was gone. Many of the design elements of Lafayette Greens were inspired by the Lafayette Building that once stood on the site.
For further information on the Lafayette Building and its history, please refer to these publications:
Why Compuware Started an Urban Garden
Compuware created Lafayette Greens for a number of reasons: to beautify downtown Detroit in an innovative and hands-on manner; to create a space where employees, our downtown neighbors and visitors can learn about and enjoy gardening in an urban setting; and to encourage other downtown-based businesses and residents to reach out and transform the spaces that surround them. A Master Gardener with a vision of growing food in the central business district of Detroit, Compuware's Co-founder and Executive Chairman, Peter Karmanos, Jr. urged the project forward. With his support, the hybrid garden-park, Lafayette Greens, became a reality.
The physical creation of the space demanded a great deal of groundwork and collaboration with various entities in Detroit, including the city of Detroit, its mayor and city council, as well as volunteers, neighbors and other local businesses. With about a half-acre of growing space, the garden serves a place for individuals to relax and enjoy greenery, while simultaneously providing organic foods to the community. The produce grown in the garden is donated to Gleaners Community Food Bank, Alternatives for Girls and other organizations and food distributors. Volunteers who work and help maintain the space are also able to take food home.
Lafayette Greens serves as a wonderful way to beautify downtown Detroit, have a space for Compuware employees to engage with the greater community and create a venue for people to share in the act of gardening in an open environment. We look forward to many years of growing food, community and knowledge in the heart of Detroit!
Lafayette Greens Design Elements
Lafayette Greens is making Detroit history with its raised beds, fruit trees, children's garden and other features never before seen at the site. The garden is located two blocks from Compuware World Headquarters, where the historic Lafayette Building once stood, reinvigorating the historic parcel of land.
Designed by Beth Hagenbuch of Kenneth Weikal Landscape Architecture, Lafayette Greens utilizes its half acre of land to create a peaceful and fruitful green space amidst the busy urban streets that surround it. But Lafayette Greens is more than a community garden; it also elicits a strong aesthetic sensibility with its geometric patterns and opportunities for additional artistic expression.
Click here to learn more about the garden's design elements.