Mies van der Rohe garden home for sale in Detroit’s Lafayette Park


The economical elegance of the garden houses designed by Mies van der Rohe became a beacon for many fans of modernist architecture. However, there are only 24 such cooperatives – a capsule on two streets in Lafayette Park in Detroit.

The rare listings go on sale on Detroit multilists at a rate of less than one per year. Others sell from owner to owner without being advertised.

A big part of the appeal is that each unit has an all-glass back that looks out into a courtyard with brick walls. So the owners have their own private courtyard, courtyard or garden within walking distance of the city center.

With full glass walls looking into the inner courtyard, nature becomes part of the living space.

Light and space flow between the large living room, the dining area and the pantry.  On the left is the full glass wall that looks out into the walled courtyard.

This summer house in Mies has been owned and maintained for 25 years by a married couple that includes an architect, Robert Hafel, and a professional musician / civil rights attorney, Joan Blair, both of whom are retired.

Not only is your unit in good shape, the couple have improved it over decades.

It takes a light hand when you remember Mies’ famous mantra: “Less is more.” But these owners have found ways to create “more” that doesn’t change clutter or Mies’ precise use of space.

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In the late 1950s, Mies used materials that were affordable for middle-income people. But of course the components wear out. In this unit, the couple replaced them with high-quality products that were known to the architect Hafel.

Take the bathrooms. The floor plans remained unchanged, but the vanity units and their medicine boxes were replaced with the very high quality Robern brand, often spelled as lowercase Robern. Once independent, it is now a little-known Kohler luxury grand piano.

The bathroom of the owner of the summer house Mies van der Rohe at 1331 Joliet Place in Detroit.  It is a rare garden unit by Mies van de Rohe in Lafayette Park in very good condition with many respectful improvements.

Bowls and counters on the vanity units are made of molded glass. The sides are made of another glass that looks like gray wood grain and is wrapped with stainless steel handles.

No drawer handles can be seen, but a deep drawer rolls out from the front and is lit from within. Both this drawer and the pharmacy above it hide sockets. You can use a hair dryer or electric toothbrush without cluttering the counter.

The robern medicine box is six inches deep and has an automatic defroster. Faucets are Hansgrohe. Toilets are the Japanese brand Toto.

In one bathroom, the tub was removed to create a low threshold shower. The shower cabin is a beautiful product made of glass and stainless steel from Fleurco. “I didn’t know these products existed,” said Blair.

The kitchen is stunning too – the same 10½-foot galley Mies designed, but with a new spark. The cabinets combine beech wood with a lively Caribbean red and orange lacquer. The white counters and backsplashes are made of Silestone quartz. The faucet is the Brizo brand.

The long pantry retains its original design, but with new surfaces made of beech wood, red and orange lacquered drawers and white quartz worktops.  The blue wall at the back shows the low profile that lets in sunlight.

Similar projects are running through the unit – always in line with Mies’ vision, always with a luxury product – for example a granite tile called blue pearl, which was also used in the former Ford auditorium.

A big project is everything Hafel and Blair do. Where Mie’s cellars are concrete rectangles, they turned theirs into a living room suite.

It has a large good looking living room, bedroom and full bath, large laundry room and storage rooms. This brings the number of bedrooms here to four and the number of bathrooms to three.

Buying a unit in Lafayette Park is different from buying a condo because the entire complex was built as a cooperative building. Broker Charles Krasner has information on sources of credit. Often times, sales are cash. The monthly fees for cooperatives are high compared to condominiums, but they cover more costs.

Lafayette Park is a diverse community of celebrities, judges, and politicians. It has public parks, playgrounds, basketball, and tennis. It’s close to Eastern Market and the walkable, wheeled Dequindre Cut.

Mies van der Rohe garden shed

Where: 1331 Joliet Place, Detroit

How much: $ 649,000

Bedroom: 4th

Bath: 3 full

Square feet: 1,490 on the ground floor plus approx. 1,200 as a living room plus bedroom suite in the basement.

Co-op fee: $ 850 per month. It includes property taxes, insurance, Comcast, internet, maintenance, security. It also includes the replacement of equipment such as HVAC systems, roofs, and many other original equipment.

Key Features: It is a rare garden unit by Mies van der Rohe in Lafayette Park in very good condition with many respectful improvements. Additional living room and bedroom on the lower floor. A brick courtyard with all the advantages of Lafayette Park.

Contact: Charles Krasner, William Adlhoch & Associates, 313-574-4950.

A note on photos

To limit our employees’ exposure to coronavirus, the Detroit Free Press is temporarily ceasing its practice of using our photographers to take pictures for House Envy, and instead using photos created through listing of brokers, we are the photographers the Honor brokers for their assistance in this endeavor.


Dusty Kennedy