Renaissance Center, Detroit, MI

photograph | January 2016

The "Ren Cen" and I go way back. When I was in high school I belonged to a club titled Business Professionals of America, or BPA as we called it. If you're thinking, "Dude, that sounds super nerdy," you wouldn't be wrong.

We would compete in various business events. Some of these include stuff like Parlimentary Procedures, public speaking, entrepreneurship (did I spell that right?), and so on. You'd prep either alone or with a team and then you'd compete in front of judges.

I dabbled in individual public speaking a bit, but my jams were graphic design and a team called Presentation Management. Art and design was my focus at the time, but Presentation Management was my favorite. This was in the late 90's so PowerPoint was just getting started. We would spend months researching a topic, building a presentation in PowerPoint using a laptop and projector (somewhat rare tech at the time), and then practice our asses off.

We were pretty good. We always made it through to the state level competitions, which is where the Ren Cen comes in. "State" was held at the Renaissance Center. Schools would come out from all over and rent out floors of the hotel within the center. There was a welcome dinner, then we'd spend 2-3 days competing. There was always a final dinner and dance then the award ceremony the next day. I don't think we ever made it to Nationals, but we always loved State.

I've always been in awe of the Ren Cen's architecture. Giant cement beams and trusses that fill out the cylinders sheathed in glass. There's a little daylight that spills in but at night it has a toned-down mood with subtle but dramatic lighting. Good luck not getting lost in that place, too. It's like one of those hamster huts with all the tubes and what-not.