The Detroit Medical Center (DMC) is huge. It spans approximately eight blocks from Mack Avenue on the south to East Warren on the north. The east-west boundaries are St. Antoine Street on the east and John R Street on the west. Within the campus boundaries are several major hospitals serving a diverse population, top research institutions and world-class trauma and emergency centers. But there is more to the DMC than medical services.
It is home to some of the best architecture in Detroit, designed by the city’s top architectural firms. For example, there’s Harper Hospital, designed by Albert Kahn in 1928. Detroit Receiving Hospital which features an aluminum and porcelain exterior was designed by William Kessler and Associates. It opened in 1979. The postmodern John Dingell VA Hospital from Smith, Hinchman, and Grylls opened in 1996 and it boasts an elaborate façade with multi-colored brick.
I’ve ridden past this area on occasion and since I was bicycling around the Cultural Center the other day, I decided to explore the DMC campus. It’s something I’ve not done in the past. I started my little two-wheel tour by riding the perimeter of the campus to get a good look at the buildings and the center’s environment. As I was circling the area on its boundary streets, I began to notice walkways and small driveways leading into, what appeared to be, the center of the DMC campus. Curiosity got the best of me, so at the next walkway, I took a sharp left and headed in to see where the walk would take me.
Steering my way slowly down the winding brick pavers, I came to a beautiful green space, surrounded by DMC buildings. There I found a relaxing, outdoor picnic and seating area. Looking around that park-like setting, I began to see small sculptures and other outdoor art. Some pieces were displayed prominently and others blended into the surrounding landscape. Immediately to my right was an area dedicated to children and children at heart, with many colorful sculptures.
Poking around other areas of the medical center’s campus I came across fountains, metal sculptures, and various statues placed in small pocket parks. I knew Detroit Receiving has one of the largest collections of modern art in the state, but never realized there were so many pieces of outdoor art found on the grounds of the DMC. What a pleasant discovery!