B’nai David Synagogue, Southfield Center for the Arts 24350 Southfield Rd.
Years Built: 1959, 1965 Congregation B’nai David decided to relocate from Elmhurst and 14th Street in Detroit in the 1950s. It purchased property in Southfield Township in 1956. The congregation selected Louis G. Redstone to design its new home. The result was an International Style building with sweeping dimensions. The sanctuary was designed in the round with stained glass windows at the base. This structure was encased in a notched square, allowing light to enter the sanctuary. The social hall features an undulating ceiling with recessed lights and a glass window wall. In 1965 the congregation added a classroom wing. By the late 1980s the congregation went into decline as its members aged and/or moved. The City of Southfield purchased the building in 1993 for use as an arts center. In 2003 the building was sold to the Moslem Shrine and operates as Shriners Silver Garden Events Center, a full service banquet center and as the offices for the Shriners.
Louis Gordon Redstone was one of Michigan’s more prominent Modernist architects and played an instrumental role in the development of shopping centers and malls.
He was born March 16, 1903, as Louis Routenstein in Grodno, Russia, changing his last name upon immigrating to the United States in 1923.
In 1920, he moved to British-controlled Palestine and began learning the building trades. A number of Jews were moving to the area during this time, and the then-Routenstein helped to rebuild Jewish settlements. He went on to become a stone mason — the first step in a career in architecture.
After arriving in Detroit three years later, he worked in the construction trade for two years, saving up to attend the University of Michigan School of Architecture. After graduating in 1929, Redstone took a job as a translator for the Ford Motor Co.; architecture and building jobs were hard to come by in the wake of Black Tuesday and the ensuing Great Depression. Wanting to put his new degree to use, he moved back to Palestine in 1933 to run an architectural firm designing mostly residential structures.
In 1937, with the U.S. on sturdier economic footing, Redstone came back to the Motor City and opened up his own architectural firm. In 1948, he graduated with a master’s degree from the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Mich.
He would go on to lead a long and successful career designing Modernist structures around metro Detroit, including shopping centers and malls, such as Macomb Mall in Roseville, Mich.; Somerset Mall in Troy, Mich., and Wonderland Shopping Center in Livonia, Mich. He also designed Hamlin Hall at Oakland University in Rochester, Mich., and several banks around metro Detroit.
He died in Detroit in 2002, just five days after turning 99 years old.