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March 09, 1990 - Image 47

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-03-09

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101 1 1,1 1 1 ,

ed ali st

With the highest medal in the
profession added to an exhaustive list
of awards, Kenneth Neumann is
making a name for himself as the
architect of the '90s.

Neumann, principal in
of design for
Neumann/Smith and Asso-
Staff Writer
ciates, is gaining notoriety
he architectural office
in the world of architecture.
is bright — green in
To his credit are 54 local, re-
the middle, red on one
gional and national design
awards, most recently a gold
side and black and white
medal from the Detroit
stipes on another.
chapter of the American In-
Yet Kenneth Neumann
stitute of Architects. The
scoffs at remarks that the of-
gold medal is the highest
fice appears to resemble an
award of the architecture
art deco theme.
profession, honoring reci-
"No, no, no," he says. "The
pients for leadership and
style has no name. It is
contributions to the profes-
bright and timeless."
sional organization and
The green portion is
shaped like a pickle. It
"It is a privilege to be
divides the departments. In-
honored by my fellow profes-
side the pickle, secretarial
sionals and I am highly
and office tasks are perform-
complimented," Neumann
ed. The black and white
says. "Our firm is dedicated
striped section hosts the
to using our collective edu-
creative team's open-office
cation, talent and experience
area. Bosses Neumann and
to create enduring, world-
Joel Smith sit among the
class architecture."
others. They want to create a
Neumann's attitude about
sense of democracy.
style is clearly visible in the
Displayed on a wall in the
office which he and Smith
red section are the firm's
designed. It is located in the
awards and models of
Galleria Officecentre, a
planned projects. Also in this
structure created by
section are conference rooms
with large windows,
Within the firm's head-
overlooking the city of
each section looks


different for a specific pur-
pose. Inspired in the late
1950s by architect Eero
Saarinen, who designed
Cranbrook schools,
Neumann follows the notion
that buildings should not
conform to a style.
"All buildings should have
character that is generated
by whatever the need is for
the building and the land,"
Neumann says. "A religious
building to be designed on a
slope for the Quakers would
look different than a
building for a synagogue on
a piece of flat land."
Neumann, a former city
planner for Detroit, says
architecture is a
methodological process.
"Architecture is always
the same," he says. "The
planning is different for each
job. You must do your
homework. If you haven't,
you can't do anything."
His theory on the profes-
sion is simplistic.
"If you can organize an of-
fice or design a chair, you
can design a city. The prin-
ciples are the same."
A fellow of the American
Institute of Architects,
Neumann is one of about
1,000 of 55,000 registered
architects throughout the
country in the AIA to earn
this status.
"Ken has been very active
in our national association
and he has done a lot for the
state organization," says
Rae Dumke, executive direc-
tor for the Michigan Society

vocative thought to his work
of Architects. "He has
and has done much to in-
helped people in mentorship
crease the image of the kinds
of clients he works for.
"He cares about the
"I don't believe in a single
client," Dumke says. "He
nor does Ken," Kessler
doesn't necessarily have a
probably is what
style. It is amazing what he
makes him so well received.
can do."
He has versatility and has
Neumann and his wife,
always provided exciting
Beverly, an artist, designed
their own home, a contem-
Neumann, who earned his
porary house with three
degree from
levels, open spaces and
the University of Illinois and
windows everywhere.
a master's of architecture
Add to Neumann's list of
from Harvard University,
designs the Edsel Ford
moved to Michigan after col-
home, the Pine Knob Music
Theater, the Birmingham
His resume includes archi-
Community House, the
tect-planner for the Detroit
renovations and additions to
City Planning Commission,
the Oakland County Jail,
architect for Loeble,
Young Israel of Southfield,
Schlossman, Bennett and
conceptual plans for the
Dart and Rossen/Neumann
future Congregation B'nai
and Associates, the firm
Moshe and Sinai Hospital's
which evolved into
Oakland Internists building
in Southfield.
In 1968, Neumann joined
Neumann also designed
the firm of the late Sandy
homes for many Jewish de-
Rossen, a well-known Jewish
velopers and community
architect, whom he met
leaders. Among them are
while working as a planner
Eugene Applebaum of Arbor
for Detroit.
Drugs, Henry Dorfman of
Smith, whose expertise is
Thorn Apple Valley, in-
design, became
vestor Mandell "Bill" Ber-
Neumann's partner 10 years
man, who is president of the
ago. Since the two joined
Council of Jewish Federa-
forces, the firm has grown
tions, investor Mickey
from less than a dozen
Shapiro, developer Alan
employees to 60.
Singer and developer Eric
"We went from the minor
Yale Lutz.
league to the major in a
"Ken is one of the most
sense," Neumann says. "But
imaginative and creative
we're still the babies. We are
architects here," says archi-
the small guys on the block
tect William Kessler, a
competing for the big
former gold medal winner.
"He has brought a lot of pro-



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