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A glance across the threshold

A while back, I read A. Alfred Taubman’s Threshold Resistance: The Extraordinary Career of a Luxury Retailing Pioneer. As I noted on my LinkedIn Reading List Update,

An unusual book by an unusual individual: A. Alfred Taubman is a real estate developer (who has been accused of “malling” America); an art collector; former part-owner of Sotheby’s; a family guy; philanthropist; major booster of Detroit (Detroit!); …the list goes on. At times I wondered whether I’d like Taubman if I met him; other times I was sure I would. He writes like an Everyman – he is, however, anything but an Everyman. It makes for an interesting tension in reading the book: Taubman makes you understand his world (sort of), even if its self-made-man tycoon-ishness remains outside your grasp. There’s a lot to learn here, about how developers think, what makes them tick, and why-and-how urban and suburban development issues are definitely two-edged swords.

What that means – in a nutshell – is that I learned a lot from reading Threshold Resistance and recommend it.

Today I had to look up the book online and thus came across Alfred Taubman’s site and blog. Tremendous energy – he doesn’t stop. For example, this fall he’s teaching a course at Lawrence Technological University on architecture and real estate (ARC 5732, “Land Economics/The Architecture of Development”). His post lists the guest talent he lined up: Rafael Vinoly, Eugene Kohn, Michael Graves and Kenneth Walker.

Agree or disagree, it’s hard not to be awed by Taubman’s energy and drive. And whatever position you take regarding development – urban, suburban – you need to understand how key individuals who are unique and visionary (even if you don’t agree with their vision) approach the matter.

If ARC 5732 were available online, I’d audit it.


  1. Dear Mr Heibel,
    I was pleased to read your blog about my book and career in real estate. I appreciate your kind comments and if I can be of any assistance to you in your research, please do not hesistate to contact me. As you might have noted, despite my years, I try to continue to be actively engaged in the development and design process, and hope that my experience can enrich the many bright young minds that will be our future. I believe that it is the privilege of those who have achieved a measure of financial success to help young people progress in their ability to excel in their times.
    With best regards,
    A. Alfred Taubman

    Comment by Alfred Taubman — August 6, 2010 #

  2. Dear Mr. Taubman,
    Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment on my blog. At the risk of sounding like a sycophant, I have to repeat how much I enjoyed reading your book and how impressed I am by everything you’ve accomplished. That you keep going with such energy, even after the Sotheby’s / prison debacle, is nothing short of amazing and shows your mettle. A lesser person might have taken his or her ball and gone home, not kept sharing it (and the game) with others, as you have.
    Thanks again for taking the time to comment.
    Best regards,
    Yule (ps: I’m not MR. Heibel, as I’m quite female despite what I guess is a masculine-sounding name… 😉 )

    Comment by Yule — August 6, 2010 #

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