Trui Moerkerke is a Belgian journalist who moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan with her family in the Summer of 2016. She decided to make the most of the waiting-for-the work-permit-time. She is fascinated with Detroit and studied to become a tour guide. There is so much to see, so much to tell. As a journalist and former editor, Trui knows a thing or two about storytelling. Trui is still writing for Belgian magazines and newspapers and she founded A Dose of Detroit. She's ready to take you on a guided tour in this amazing city (in Dutch, French and English).
Around 1970 Henry Ford II, grandson of the legendary car manufacturer, made plans to do something about the economic downfall in downtown Detroit. He raised money for development between the downtown and the banks of the Detroit River. A hotel, restaurants, and offices would provide not only construction jobs, but it would also attract people to the downtown area.
In 1976 the first part of the Renaissance Center (RenCen) opened: 5 tall, modern, glass towers, designed by architect John Portman. Two more towers were later added.
The revival of downtown didn't happen, though. The RenCen was an isolated island. People drove into one of the RenCen's parking lots and left after having worked or shopped there, without visiting downtown.
Today, after a lot of renovations and new features like a Winter Garden, the RenCen (now the headquarters of General Motors) is an excellent place along the Detroit River Walk and more connected to the rest of the city. You can have lunch or dinner with a great view of Windsor, the Canadian town on the other side of the Detroit River.
There has been some discussion about the architectural value of the RenCen. Sure, it is impressive, but is it beautiful? Pragmatic Detroiters moved on. The skyline defining towers are here to stay.