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Archive for October 15th, 2016

For Example, speaking of the rebirth of Detroit as a “UNESCO Design City,” A. Alfred Taubman, Philanthropy + Price-Fixing, Strip Malls, Sotheby’s Scandal with Felony Conviction, and Major Philanthropy to Major Universities

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An informal post serving to move the “for example” material off another one, not intended to be a complete story on the subject in question.  Just a little “FYI” and For Example.

Post Title & Shortlink “For Example, speaking of the rebirth of Detroit as a “UNESCO Design City,”  A. Alfred Taubman, Philanthropy + Price-Fixing, Strip Malls, Sotheby’s Scandal with Felony Conviction, and Major Philanthropy to Major Universities (short-link ending “-4Ie”, short post too, for me!, publ. Oct. 15, 2016)

(Actually a few weeks ago I was looking into and writing on the UNESCO DESIGN CITY topic.  Those posts are much more detailed than this one.  The current point of reference for letting this one even be posted is, from “About the Language and Length (Notes on Writing Style from TOC 2014 post)(a “sticky” post)  is that you can learn a lot about famous individuals from their NYT obituaries.  By the time someone famous and their associated philanthropic // corporate activities decade after decade, hits their 80s, or 90s, and breathes their last, there is bound to by an interesting story behind it, reflecting on what we value MOST in America, namely, those who have money, and how ready we are to compromise principles when offered some of it for a favorite project.

A. Alfred Taubman was just one example, and I’d gone pretty far into who funded the rehab of the famous landmark, GM’s “Argonaut” building, before realizing who this gentleman was as a white-collar crook, somewhere between Sotheby’s and Christie’s in London.

Another thing that continues to come up is how much the wealthy love their art collections, and how much those artists need the wealthy to consume their art.  This has been of course throughout history (including when some of that wealth, obviously, was obtained under the name of one major world religion, or another, or the competition for “customers” between them)…

One thing that continues to come up is that some of these American success stories supplemented at least some of their wealth as white-collar crooks — but the public somehow still feels indebted to them —  and is in some sectors, including the University sector — when some of the proceeds from that robbing of others is donated to public institutions which, it’s expected, will of course not in their own communications, highlight the criminal aspects of said individuals.

If I haven’t expressed that clearly enough, just read the following example, and see what comes to mind, with a person who did jail time (not much!!) before getting back to the partying with famous friends, and STILL gets a major design center in the high-profile redemption (??) of the City of Detroit from its urban nightmares…

References to the Alfred E. Taubman Design Center in GM’s donated building, The Argonaut.

A. Alfred Taubman is the official I was thinking of.  

  • Inside the Argonaut: Detroit’s Creative Hub 11/24/2015 in “MoldedMedia” MJ GALBRAITH | TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 24, 2015.  Regarding the A. Alfred Taubman Center for Creative Design inside CCS (College for Creative Studies in Detroit).  

It started over dinner — just two friends meeting without an agenda. Still, when it’s Rick Rogers, president of the College for Creative Studies, and
Matt Cullen, then head of global real estate for General Motors and current president and chief operating officer of Rock Ventures, a casual aside about CCS looking for more space as it outgrew its campus snowballs into GM gifting the college a genuine Detroit architectural masterwork, the 760,000-square-foot Argonaut Building. Suddenly, CCS had more square footage in one building than it did on its original Walter and Josephine Ford campus.

Today, the Argonaut Building has been officially re-branded as the A. Alfred Taubman Center for Design Education, a result of that famous benefactor’s financial endowment. A number of CCS departments have moved to the Taubman Center since it opened in 2009, including numerous automotive design courses, labs, and hi-tech equipment — fitting, given the building’s rich automotive history. Students reside there as well — a full house with a waiting list to boot. On the top floor, the 11th, is the Benson and Edith Ford Conference Center has turned into a popular venue for not only CCS, but also outside groups like the recent Urban Entrepreneurship Symposium….

For the next 10 years, the Argonaut sat in the dark, empty but secure, waiting for the right use until Rogers’ and Cullen’s fateful dinner. Fast forward through GM’s gifting the building to CCS, a carefully constructed web of fundraising, and a $145-million renovation, and the Argonaut was transformed into the A. Alfred Taubman Center for Design Education.
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