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Next stop, Hitsville

Detroit’s Motown Museum teases expansion in new flyover video
Detroit’s Motown Museum has reached out by releasing a flyover video that gives the first good look at its $50 million expansion in hopes that we’ll (eventually) be there. And although there ain’t nothing like the real thing, the teaser video showcases the under-construction museum in its full glory. “It’s such a thrill for us to give the world this fresh visual of what our expanded campus will look like when construction is completed,” Robin Terry, chairwoman and CEO of the Motown Museum, told Detroit News. “The dynamic format for this aerial ‘flyover’ video means you can experience the project in a way that even the most detailed plans and renderings cannot—bringing the expansion to life in a way that makes you feel like you’re there. This preview also illustrates how the museum will offer unique programming, a collaborative space for the community to gather and one-of-a-kind experiences that no other institution can match.” As previously reported, the museum expansion, which broke ground in September of last year, was designed by the late Phil Freelon of Perkins and Will. Most notably, the North Carolina-based Freelon led the design team behind the National Museum of African American History and Culture as well as other museums dedicated to civil rights and the black experience. For the Motown Museum expansion, Freelon collaborated with Detroit’s Hamilton Anderson Associates. “Motown introduced a brilliant collection of voices and stories across racial, generational, and cultural lines,” said Zena Howard, a managing director at Perkins and Will, in a statement to the Detroit Free Press. “The expansion of the Motown Museum will carry these voices even further.” When complete, the museum, which is currently located in the original Motown home offices/studios on West Grand Boulevard, will feature an additional 50,000 square feet of interactive exhibition space, performance venues, recording studios, community gathering areas, retail space, and more. The first phase will mostly involve renovating and connecting the existing museum buildings, and is the first of four. The sprawling new museum complex will be connected to Hitsville U.S.A., the name of Motown Records’ historic hit-producing compound. In effect, the expansion will create a sprawling cultural campus in Detroit’s New Center neighborhood. Currently, three of the seven original Motown-affiliated residential homes lining West Grand Boulevard make up the present-day museum. Motown mogul Berry Gordy purchased the first Hitsville home in 1959. In 1972, Gordy moved the label’s headquarters from Detroit to Los Angeles. Esther Gordy Edwards, sister of Berry Gordon and former senior vice president of Motown Records, established the Motown Museum at the Hitsville site in 1985. It remains one of southeast Michigan’s top tourist attractions. As reported by the Detroit Free Press, the Motown Museum announced it had surpassed the halfway mark of its $50 million expansion fundraising campaign on the same day it premiered the new flyover teaser.
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Free Victoria Parking

Shin Shin imagines radical redevelopment of abandoned Detroit homes
The economic decline of Detroit in the second half of the 20th century is a familiar one in American history. The Motor City dramatically fell from a population of 1,850,000 in 1950 to 680,000 in 2015, resulting in an unprecedented exodus of its central historic districts. The Virginia Park district, a neighborhood lined with abandoned turn-of-the-century mansions, soon became a destination for out-of-town photographers eager to capture the ‘ruins’ as physical proof of abandonment with little interest in how the city can move on from the troubles of its recent past. Shin Shin, an architecture firm founded in 2018 by Detroit-born sisters Melissa and Amanda Shin, recently opened an exhibition at Woodbury University in Burbank, California, that offers a bold solution for the city’s historic homes through a novel form of adaptive reuse. Titled Four Corners, the exhibition dives deeply into No Vacancy, a series of redevelopment scenarios applied to a typical Virginia Park mansion. Each scenario programmatically divides the home in half, leaving the top floor as a modestly-sized private residence while transforming the bottom floor into a commercial space that generates income and provides much-needed amenities for building community. The four different family types—the bachelor or young couple, the single-parent, the nuclear family, and the empty nester—are coupled with a complementary commercial program, creative service spaces, an outdoor theater, a recreation center, and a garden cafe, respectively. Because the clash between the public and private may seem outlandish at first, the exhibition goes to great lengths to demonstrate the viability of their proposals through scaled-up construction drawings and highly detailed 3D-printed models. The models, in particular, draw the eye to the more playful aspects of each design, including silly straw-like columns, rock climbing facades, and overinflated acoustical padding. While the firm currently has no plans to make their vision a reality in their native city, they hope to come up with other, like-minded proposals to guide Detroit through its current era of revitalization and growth. Four Corners will be on display until March 6.
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Some Assembly Required

T+E+A+M builds practice through assembly
The following interview was conducted as part of “Building Practice,” a professional elective course at Syracuse University School of Architecture taught by Molly Hunker and Kyle Miller, now an AN interview series. On September 3, 2019, Peter Maffei and Sanat Dangol, students at Syracuse University, interviewed Meredith Miller and Thom Moran, one half of the Ann Arbor-based practice T+E+A+M. The following interview was edited by Kyle Miller and AN. Peter Maffei and Sanat Dangol: We're really interested in how the four of you came together. What is it like for four architects who previously practiced individually to form a collaborative practice? Thom Moran: The answer to how we started working together is pretty prosaic, and also a bit humorous. We started a reading group to learn more about the architect Emilio Ambasz, whose work resonated with each of us, but in different ways. It was during the time of this reading group that the opportunity arose to apply to represent the United States at the 2016 Venice Biennale. We decided to turn our reading group conversations into the basis for our application. Our application was successful, and we exhibited Detroit Reassembly Plant in Venice in 2016, but it still wasn't clear to us whether or not we were going to continue as a practice. Given that we enjoyed working together and acknowledged that we did something together that we never would have done independently, we decided to keep collaborating. Meredith Miller: The Detroit Reassembly Plant threaded so many themes together that we had developed individually. It was very exciting for us to see how the work came together. But regarding the mechanics of how we operate as a four Principal office, there are things about it that are hugely inefficient in terms of time management. We all like to be involved, especially in the conceptual phase of a project. It’s what we enjoy the most and we’re at our best when we're sitting around a table, sketching and talking. With four of us, there's a lot of input. For the sake of efficiency, as a project moves forward, we divide tasks and responsibilities, but most of the work cycles through all four of us. How has your architectural education influenced your work? Meredith: The four of us have different educational and professional backgrounds. Adam, Thom and I studied architecture at the undergraduate level, and Ellie went to NYU and earned a liberal arts degree. For the graduate degrees, Ellie and Adam both studied at UCLA, Thom went to Yale, and I went to Princeton. We benefit from a diverse set of sources of inspiration relative to these different educational backgrounds. Thom: For me, it's also more personal and I think of my education as having started a very long time ago. I grew up in the building trades and was on job sites with my father and uncle since I was five or six years old. These experiences still inform how I think about design. I approach buildings from a material proposition first. All four of us are interested in materiality, but for me it comes from the logics of construction. What is the responsibility of the architect and how do you think that has changed throughout your career? Thom: Responsibility? That's a good one. There are a couple of different ways you could frame responsibility and there are many ways in which this has changed in the last 20 years. There’s the issue of sustainability, but I don't think there's much disagreement that it’s an important part of what we do, and should always be considered. More recently, there’s the responsibility to be inclusive and consider how architecture intersects with social justice. But I have a more romantic view about the architect’s role in society, as a visionary or as a critic or as someone who offers a different worldview compared to dominant ideologies. We have an opportunity and responsibility to offer a critique of the world through buildings we design. Meredith:  I agree and would also add that critique is much more collaborative today. There's an awareness and a willingness to work across different fields, acknowledging that executing a building design isn't the work of a singular author. There are so many people involved, and the responsibilities associated with building are distributed across an ecology of different disciplines. A successful architect can assert a vision while acknowledging the different roles and contributions of many other individuals. Thom: Right, and I’ll put a fine point on that. An architect can positively impact the world through design. You know, there are all kinds of ways an architect can be ethical, but if it doesn't show up in the building, we’re not doing our part. There are lots of different hats you can put on. You can go out be an activist, but we have a responsibility to make our beliefs and provocations manifest in the buildings that we design, in addition to the ways we conduct ourselves as professionals and as citizens. Where does your aesthetic sensibility come from? What are your sources of inspiration? Meredith: It’s a process of discovery. We begin by sorting out shared intuitions and values for a project. Our different approaches often lead us to certain aesthetics that surprise us. Thom: And in some projects, we begin with a particular provocation that directs this process of discovery. For example, in Living Picture, we were really interested in the instantiation of a rendering in physical space. It's a really complicated thing to unpack. We all make renderings to represent buildings. But just making a building that looks like the rendering you made isn't going to deliver the experience of inhabiting a rendering. We were interested in building something that makes legible rendering techniques and rendering as a design tool. Throughout the development of this project, we expanded our understanding of rendering and texture mapping. To that point, the aesthetic result of our work is often dependent upon a critical inquiry into the tools and technologies we use to design and construct buildings. Meredith: Exactly. There's often traces of digital processes in the products. There's a way in which the outcomes that are material or spatial evidence the particular tools we use and the way we use them. We’re compelled by the ability for these specific interests to inform the aesthetic result and the experience of the environments we create. Thom: We also really love early [Frank] Gehry, but we don't want to just do early Gehry. We’re trying to figure out what is early Gehry in another context, using different technologies and responding to different economic forces. We’re interested in architectural authorship that has an affinity for the inexpensive—the cheap, but it’s an authorship that belongs to 2019, and it looks different and it feels different than a Gehry project from the late ’70s or the ’80s. The images you’ve created through these various tools are really compelling, especially to us students and especially on social media. Who do you identify as your audience? Who is your work for? Meredith: To begin, we think of students as a portion of our audience, but also architecture schools and architecture culture, in general. It’s one audience that we're definitely in dialogue with and aware of. But there are other audiences that are important to us as well. Currently, a lot of our work ends in representation, in images. That's not the end game for us. The end game for us is building, where the audience is more varied. Our hope is that our research into digital design procedures and material effects adds up to something that can be experienced by broader audiences and becomes part of architectural backgrounds that augment day to day activities. Thom: We’re really interested in the reality of our digital lives showing up in physical space. We are committed to not just participating in the role of digital media in contemporary culture, but translating that into a spatial experience in a consequential way. So, one might feel a vibration between one’s digital extension into media and one’s physical instantiation in space. We remain committed to the reality of buildings. We will not be satisfied with a fantastically popular Instagram page that circulates digital images everywhere. That would be fun, but we're more committed to what we can achieve through building. And we’ve been pleasantly surprised by the fact that potential clients have not been averse to our admittedly challenging aesthetic predilections yet. We’ve started to believe that if we get something built that is experimental aesthetically, it will be easier to get potential clients on board because they'll see not only what we can achieve, but also the added value of our approach. Meredith: Also, it’s not only important that our work is economically and environmentally conscious, but that we use each opportunity to experiment with off the shelf materials, conventional assembly systems, and familiar construction techniques. Even when operating in these territories, there's a lot of design authorship that's available to us while also being mindful of cost. Again, we want to demonstrate this added value to potential clients through built work. We are pursuing sophisticated material and aesthetic results without compromising affordability. How do you select your source images? We see a lot of rocks and trees. Why rocks and why trees? What other types of images do you start with? Meredith: Something we discuss a lot is how images we create interact with the context in which they are placed. For example, in Living Picture we digitally modeled the historic theater that no longer exists. We also created renderings from that digital model in the context, and those renderings eventually became printed on vinyl in the final, full-scale construction. Living Picture was made of digital trees in dialogue with physical trees. There was a logic there regarding image selection. For us, it was a new kind of contextualism. There are similar ideas being developed in the Northwood ADU project, where the site of the existing house backs up to a wooded park. There is a scheme being developed which includes wrapping the exterior of the building with imagery that would visually merge the house with its context. For the inhabitants, there would be a blending of the real trees and the digital trees, of real sky and the digital sky. On the interior, we are selecting images that would expand the sense of space. It's a very small apartment—750 square feet—and we are working on visually expanding the space through introducing an artificial horizon through imagery. There are ideas about ground and sky acting as interior elements. We’re working on blurring physical boundaries of space. Overall, it's not just about the content of images, but also the qualities that they can lend to the space. It all contributes to our larger interest in being playful and experimental with image production, material manipulation, and a combination of the two. Thom: It’s a great question. And It's something we struggle with. We’re drawn to the fact that there's simply a lot more content in a project when you saturate it with imagery. So, you probably wouldn't be asking us, how do we figure out where to put the bedroom? Those answers are almost evident, and far more objective than image selection. In general, we’re primarily interested in what effects get produced as a result of our decisions, whether it’s a rock or a tree or something else. How does the location of each project affect the design strategy? Thom: It’s different for every project. For Detroit Reassembly Plant, we started with the initial observation that the Packard Plant wasn't really a building anymore. It was a pile of materials. And it was an image that was circulating in the media. It no longer functioned as a building. This describes two ways we look at almost every context. Whether we’re engaging a vacant mall or an abandoned big box or a factory that's falling apart, we often question the material reality of the object and locate the images the object produces that circulate. Meredith: Your question also makes me think of the fact that Michigan is one context for our practice. It’s not just the location for projects we've done, but the location for us—where we work and live, and also the location of the kinds of projects we hope to get to work on in the future. We’re really interested in working locally. We’re actively trying to get work in the area and especially in Detroit where there's an incredible building boom right now. Some of it great and some of it not so great for the city. That’s something that we want to participate in and help shape. What's been the most rewarding moment in your professional careers thus far? Thom: This is a silly one, but I have to say it tickles me. At the 2016 Venice Biennale, MOS made lenticular drawings. Michael [Meredith] was proud of making a drawing that made people move around in order to understand it. We were just sitting there, laughing as people rocked back and forth. With Living Picture, we made a project where people had to traipse around in order to get things to visually align. We were watching people strain their necks and meander around our installation to figure out what we had done. We actually did what we set out to do with the project which was to build a rendering in which people could walk around. Meredith: I had a text exchange with James Wines recently.
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Building Bridges

inFORM studio and BuroHappold's Providence Pedestrian Bridge links and transforms downtown
In many ways, the newly developed Innovation & Design District in Providence, Rhode Island, echoes the typical pattern of urban redevelopment: Sleek, angular buildings have sprung up on previously industrial land parcels, now home to hotels, shops, and academic centers. A waterfront park will provide seven new acres of green space amid the bustling new development. At the heart of the new district, a new bridge completed last year aims to physically link for the city while inviting pedestrians to cross the Providence River and explore the urban landscape. Envisioned by Detroit-based architecture firm inFORM studio and structural engineer BuroHappold, the Providence River Pedestrian Bridge is the culmination of a decade’s work. The 394-foot walkway cuts across the river from east-to-west, set atop granite piers remaining from the narrow stretch of Interstate 195 that traversed the river before its relocation in 2013. Wood cladding by SITU Fabrication provides the bridge with warmth and references the historic nature of the Providence. While the bridge's prominent location has made it a well-attended attraction since its summer completion, the bridge is expected to see an even greater surge in pedestrian activity as the Innovation & Design District continues development. Providence has long been a city defined by academia; five universities call the city home, many of which have continued to expand into disconnected nodes bisected by the river. With the opening of the pedestrian bridge, Brown University’s main campus is now linked to its medical school, the New School of Professional Studies, the Peti Laboratory, and South Street Landing, a 432,000-square-foot residential development by the university. Johnson & Wales University and the Rhode Island School of Design have also been connected via the bridge. BuroHappold’s Cities Team estimated that 14 percent of the city’s population lives within a one-mile range of the bridge, and approximately 60,000 people work within that range. The accessibility of the location is a draw in its own right, but a space designated for pedestrian use in this area has its own symbolic importance: in the transition from major highway to a public walkway, what was once a quick route from one city to another has become a destination that Providence residents can enjoy on their own terms.
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No Man's (Secret) Sky

In rural Michigan, an ordinary barn becomes a secret gift to the sky
Tucked at the tip of Michigan’s thumb is artist and architect Catie Newell’s latest and largest triumph, Secret Sky, a barn that marks where the landscape meets the sky. Located in Kinde, Michigan, eight miles south of Lake Huron’s expanse, a nearly doomed barn has been regenerated as public art. Newell executes a singular move—a simple slice through the barn—to reveal the passage of time, like passing clouds or the sunset. Slowly the architecture is revealed, as shape, form, and silhouette. Most of Newell’s work can be characterized as installation art. At this smaller-than-building scale, Newell obsessed over delicacy and attenuation meeting lightness and darkness. An architect by training, her work is often positioned within existing spaces to capture a moment in time, no matter how ephemeral the work itself is. With Secret Sky, her most permanent piece yet, the work is no longer transitory and the architecture encapsulates the moment. Once there, from the top of the drive-in approach, the simplicity of the site becomes evident. The barn sits isolated, unaccompanied by a farmhouse or silo. The untouched gambrel silhouette reminds you of where you are: the middle of nowhere, the rural Midwest. It’s a peaceful setting and really quite inconspicuous until you see the splitting of the barn. The slice carves an elongated passage that frames the sky and allows light to pour through, marking where one space becomes two. Once again Newell offers something recognizable cast in a new light. The barn has been surrendered as a gift to the sky. The integrity of the barn remains; the slice itself seems original to the 100-year-old structure. To create the inverted walls of the slice and patch the facades, Newell salvaged wood from a barn down the road that had blown over during Secret Sky's construction. She meticulously adjusted each board on-site to be just right, creating near-perfect seams and points, and evenly distributing qualities like knots, wood grain, and coloring to assure continuity. Although Newell is accustomed to working with robots as the Director of the Master of Science in Digital and Material Technologies at the University of Michigan, for this piece, Newell relied on intuition and hands-on precision rather than computation to achieve fidelity. A lot of work in the project went to modifying existing conditions like the foundation and the crumbling structure. The slope of the new, angled walls required experienced engineering with the help of John Gruber of Sheppard Engineering based in Troy, Michigan. Newell herself relaid the framing alongside countless volunteers day in and day out. Considering the barn no longer services large animals and or stores farm equipment, much of the structural detailing extends from a maximum 26 feet above to the dirt ground, taking up floor space. In 1955, the barn moved 300 feet south from its original location to a concrete foundation where columns were sat upon and the structure tied into. Secret Sky required removing part of the foundation and retransferring that structural load. With major beams cut away and a column removed, the repositioned structure now pins at ground level instead of up high for both the steel tension rods and the wooden compression members. The tension rods (for higher forces) pin to a concrete ballast 48 inches below ground, the same ballast the compression members pin to at grade. The final solution captures the forces the barn faces in its new configuration and wind loads. Here, Midwestern know-how has crafted a handsome assemblage that was finetuned for over two years until its completion. The north facade favors a grand view of the slice, as it stretches from an old barn door opening to a peak on the gambrel roof. When walking through the passage, a glimpse upward reveals the moment where the split occurs and another scene of the barn meeting the sky. The single-space barn has been reconfigured as a new enclosure. Though it has become two spaces, only the larger form is inhabitable. Where Newell’s earlier work referenced vanishing material and space, the permanence of Secret Sky challenges her work’s introversion at a greatly appreciated scale. The slice is oriented at an east-west angle, allowing the sunrise and sunset to pour in through the triangular frame. If you time it right, you can catch the sun blazing right in the middle. Solar panels on the roof (not yet installed) will power interior lighting to turn on at last light, illuminating the barn like a lantern glowing from within. Morning or evening, a golden glow will wash the grounds—the architecture as the lamp. Secret Sky was born out of a greater initiative to enliven derelict barns around the thumb, amping up tourism in the area through the arts. The barn was donated by the owner and commissioned by the Greater Port Austin Art & Placemaking. Secret Sky is the nonprofit’s third “barn art” project, adding to what could become a large sculpture garden sprinkled around the thumb of Michigan. Structural Engineer: John Gruber of Sheppard Engineering; Fabrication support and volunteer hours: etc Construction Services, Detroit.
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Arkansas Rising

2020 AIA Gold Medal awarded to Marlon Blackwell
The American Institute of Architects (AIA) announced that Marlon Blackwell will receive the 2020 Gold Medal, the AIA’s highest annual honor which, according to their website, recognizes individuals “whose work has had a lasting influence on the theory and practice of architecture.”  “Marlon Blackwell is a student of his ‘Place’ in the world. This ethic provides a philosophical coherence to his work,” Brian MacKay-Lyons wrote in a letter supporting Blackwell’s nomination. “His is a uniquely American Architecture; he builds confidently upon the American cultural landscape.”  Blackwell received a Bachelor of Architecture from Auburn University and his Master of Architecture from Syracuse University. Although he was born in Germany, the AIA describes Blackwell as a “product of the American South”, which shows through his large body of work in Northwest Arkansas. His first monograph, An Architecture of the Ozarks: The Works of Marlon Blackwell, was published by Princeton Architectural Press in 2005 and in the Fall of 2020, a new monograph will be released under the title Radical Practice His achievements are not only in practice but in strong academic leadership. As the department head of the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design at the University of Arkansas, Blackwell was named one of DesignIntelligence’s “30 most Admired Educators.” He also served on the U.S. Department of State’s Industry Advisory Group for the Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations from 2012 to 2019.  “Every Marlon Blackwell design is a new lesson in the transformative ability of architecture to reveal the uniqueness of every site and give meaning to any program, to achieve an expressive clarity in strong and simple forms,” wrote Julie V. Snow in another letter supporting Blackwell’s nomination. 2013 Gold Medal recipient, Thom Mayne, wrote, “As a practicing architect and educator myself, I have become aware of the growing estrangement between the world of the practitioner and that of the academy. Marlon teaches because of the great sense of responsibility to add a measure of reality to the education of architectural students while also supporting the theoretical or less pragmatic aspects of their education.”  The 2020 Advisory Jury consisted of: Kelly M. Hayes-McAlonie, FAIA (Chair), The State University of New York at Buffalo, Buffalo, New York Emily Grandstaff-Rice, FAIA, Arrowstreet Inc., Boston, MA Norman Foster, Hon. FAIA, Foster + Partners, London, United Kingdom Marsha Maytum, FAIA, LMS, San Francisco, California Takashi Yanai, FAIA, Ehrlich Yanai Rhee Chaney Architects, Culver City California Scott Shell, FAIA, EHDD, San Francisco, California Melissa Harlan, AIA, Christner, St. Louis Missouri Maurice Cox, City of Detroit, Detroit, Michigan
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Spirit of ‘67

Shoji Sadao dies at 92
Shoji Sadao, the architect that helped transform visionary works from both Buckminster Fuller and Isamu Noguchi into reality, has died in Tokyo at the age of 92, according to the Buckminster Fuller Institute. Sadao first met Fuller as his student while he was enrolled in the architecture program at Cornell University in the early 1950s, and the two shortly began collaborating in 1954 by developing an updated version of the Dymaxion Airocean World Map that Fuller had been personally working on since 1943. The two then became close collaborators on geodesic structures, most notably Cloud 9 (1960), a radical proposal for one-mile diameter cloud structures that would be suspended mid-air using the weight distribution of their own internal air pressure, and, after co-founding the architectural firm Fuller & Sadao Inc., the world-famous 20-story-tall U.S. Pavilion at Expo 67 in Montreal. In their practice, Fuller would often be the one to propose expansive ideas while Sadao would determine the best methods for implementing them within budget and construction timelines. Fuller wrote a letter to Sadao in 1965 citing him as “The first human being I can enthusiastically contemplate talking into design science partnership in the pursuit of my life objectives.” A second noteworthy collaboration blossomed when Fuller introduced Sadao to famed furniture designer and sculptor Isamu Noguchi in 1956. Together, Sadao and Noguchi developed numerous outdoor works including the spaceship-like Hart Plaza fountain in Detroit, the Billy Rose sculpture garden at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, and Moerenuma Park, a groundbreaking 400-acre park in Sapporo, Japan. Much like in his relationship with Fuller, Sadao brought Noguchi’s concepts to fruition without compromising the scale, detailing nor materiality the artist desired. Following Noguchi's death in 1988, Sadao oversaw the completion of Miami’s Bayfront Park, the last project the artist designed, and held the title of executive director for the Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum in Queens, New York from 1988 to 2003. Though Shoji Sadao may not be a household name, the high quality and ambition of the work he helped produce will no doubt speak for itself.
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Jail to Grail

University of Michigan, Bedrock, and Related team up for a Detroit innovation center
The former site of Detroit’s abandoned Wayne County Jail project is slated to become the new home of the 14-acre Detroit Center for Innovation (DCI), anchored by a swooping Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF)-designed research and graduate education center for the University of Michigan (U-M). The plan, and the first $300 million, 190,000-square-foot new building, was revealed by the City of Detroit on October 30 and will expand the university’s presence throughout the city. The center is only the first piece of what’s supposed to be an ambitious multi-building campus, jointly financed by the local Bedrock LLC and Stephen Ross’s Related Companies, the first Detroit project for the latter developer. In an interview with Crains, Ross, a U-M alumnus, said that the complex, which could ultimately cost over $750 million, was intended to attract companies and innovative talent to Detroit. When all is said and done, the project will include a hotel and conference center conversion for the now-empty Detroit Police Department headquarters, residential student housing, and incubator space for technology companies. In that same interview, Ross pitched the DCI as a Midwestern alternative to the similarly-sized Cornell Tech campus on Roosevelt Island in New York. The KPF-designed center itself will be run by U-M and will contain programs for up to 1,000 undergraduate students in their senior year and graduate students. The offerings are decidedly tech-oriented; the city stated that it expects the building will house a “range of high-tech innovation disciplines, including mobility, artificial intelligence, data science, entrepreneurship, sustainability, cybersecurity, financial technology and more.” Although no specific curricula for the center have been chosen at the time of writing, the university will establish an interdisciplinary committee to decide exactly what will be taught there. A startup space, coworking offices, and business incubator are also possibilities for the center. Construction on the DCI is expected to begin in 2021, with the glass-fronted academic building slated for completion in 2023.
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Above and Beyond

NOMA Conference 2019 prepared architects to engage with a more diverse future
It was the first time Malaz Elgemiabby had attended the annual conference of the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA). But it turned out to be like going back to her childhood in Sudan, being surrounded by architects, designers, and builders who looked like her, and who cared as deeply as she does about community participation in design. “In Sudan, architects are women,” Elgemiabby told AN. “So I used to build buildings when I was a kid. As women [in Sudan] your responsibility is to build the houses, to design, to assess the needs of the community.” Elgemiabby went to architecture school at London Metropolitan University, seeking out its program for its emphasis on community participation in design. She first went to work in the Middle East, where she also earned a master's degree in interdisciplinary design from the Qatar campus of Virginia Commonwealth University. She moved to Cleveland three years ago to work as an architect. After doing some projects that she’s quite proud of in the city, Elgemiabby launched her own firm, ELMALAZ, earlier this year in Cleveland. But it’s also been a bit lonely at times, being an architect on a mission to bring communities into the design process. “[In Cleveland] I’m one of the few who are advocating for this type of approach to architecture,” Elgemiabby said. “I come [to this year’s NOMA conference] and I find not only a lot of black and brown architects, but I also find people who are excited about the same mission. This was really great. It’s always nice to grow your tribe.” Growing that tribe, of course, has been NOMA’s goal all along, ever since twelve African American architects founded the organization during the 1971 AIA National Convention in Detroit. This year’s annual conference, in Brooklyn, attracted a record attendance of over a thousand participants for five days of programming, including service outings, seminars, keynote lectures, student design contests, and the usual networking and socializing. Overall, NOMA membership has grown 30 percent in 2019, under the leadership of NOMA president and HOK principal Kimberly Dowdell. The organization now has more than 1,400 members, organized under 30 professional chapters and 75 student chapters across the country. Under Dowdell, this year NOMA established a new tiered corporate membership program for large and small firms that wish to support the organization—and also gain access to discounted consulting from NOMA’s curated pool of experts in diversity, equity, and inclusion. Dubbed the “President’s Circle,” founding members include AIA, NCARB, Enterprise Community Partners, Cuningham Group, Shepley Bulfinch, Gensler, HOK, and Perkins & Will. But growth and progress for NOMA still come in the context of the Sisyphean task of making architecture more representative of the communities it serves. Out of 115,000 or so architects licensed in the U.S., only an estimated 2,299 are black. That context was made even more somber this year with the loss of one of NOMA’s giants, Phil Freelon, who passed away in July. NOMA renamed its annual professional design awards in his honor. Zena Howard worked with Phil Freelon for well over a decade. So it was fitting that this year’s NOMA conference programming included her delivery of the J. Max Bond Lecture, organized annually by the New York Chapter of NOMA and the AIANY Diversity and Inclusion Committee. Howard’s talk focused on the notion of “Remembrance Design,” which emerged over the past few years through her work with Freelon and others. Now principal and managing director of the North Carolina office at Perkins+Will, Howard used some of her firm's recent projects to illustrate remembrance design in action. The examples varied in scale and scope from the 1.1-acre Sycamore Hill Gateway Plaza in Greenville, North Carolina, to a 30-acre design process covering Miami’s Overtown neighborhood, to a 1.3-mile “linear museum” along the Crenshaw Boulevard transit corridor in Los Angeles. All were historically black neighborhoods, typically scarred by racially-discriminatory redlining and later the era of urban renewal and the construction of the interstate highway system. In short, remembrance design is a way of using architectural discovery as a healing process to unearth, unpack and honor painful histories in neighborhoods that have traditionally been disinvested and neglected—or worse yet, bulldozed and paved over—by the worlds of architecture, urban planning, and real estate. “It’s about engaging people who have historically not been engaged,” Howard said. “First engaging with these communities, there’s a lot of hurt. I once thought to myself you have to go get a psychology degree or something. It’s difficult sometimes to hear. But over time, you realize that the pain a lot of people have, they have to release that, you sort of have to provide an outlet for it. A lot of it at first is just listening.” Howard spoke about how that deep listening process turns architecture into more than just a design process; it elevates architecture into a healing process. It can even make the architect’s job a little easier in the end. Once you move past the pain, Howard said, some participants from the community will actually feel inspired enough to start sketching themselves. “Even if you can’t get people really to talk about something, they can sketch something, they can draw,” Howard said. “It becomes therapeutic in a lot of ways. Once you get passed that threshold you really start moving fast towards design solutions that they’re a part of.” That depth of community engagement resonated with many NOMA members, from Elgemiabby to NOMA National Board Member and SOM senior urban designer Tiara Hughes, whose childhood neighborhood in St. Louis is now a baseball field. “I understand what [Howard] was referring to that there’s trauma and feelings and emotions that we have to deal with collectively as a group,” Hughes told AN. And it certainly resonated with Dowdell, who was partly inspired to become an architect by growing up among vacant homes and boarded-up commercial corridors in Detroit. “The kind of engagement that Zena [Howard] and her team has done or is doing, I think that’s probably standard practice for a lot of architects here [at the conference],” Dowdell said. Dowdell is hopeful that more and more of those kinds of projects will come up as the U.S. and especially its cities become more and more diverse. The U.S. Census Bureau predicts people of color will become a majority in the U.S. by 2043. Dowdell views NOMA’s work as preparing architecture for that future. “We all have to be more conscious of the fact that more and more clients will be people of color, more and more government officials—people with more power,” she said. Of course, in bringing good design to more diverse places that have historically been neglected or harmed by earlier periods of development, the conversation naturally turns to how good design can risk putting new pressure on market conditions, pushing up property taxes or rents and pushing out the very residents who participate in these design processes. Howard brought up the example of Hogan’s Alley in Vancouver, British Columbia, as one where the residents and elected officials are looking to a community land trust as a policy intervention to protect those residents the project had in mind as end-users. “The thing [Howard] also mentioned, rightly so, was the thing that design can’t solve: the political and economic conditions that need to be grappled with to effectively prevent gentrification and the negative effects of gentrification,” Dowdell said. “I think reinvestment is fine, but I think when it starts to displace people who have had a stake in that community for years, decades, generations, that’s going to be problematic.”
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Redlining

The many lives of Detroit’s Berlin Wall
In 1941, the city of Detroit finished construction on a six-foot-tall, half-mile-long wall near 8 Mile Road that would keep an African American neighborhood physically segregated from an adjacent white neighborhood to “preserve property values.” This was redlining in concrete form. Almost 80 years later, “Detroit’s Berlin Wall” still stands, but when the Annenberg Space for Photography in Los Angeles asked SHAN Wallace to photograph the area for its exhibition W|ALLS: DEFEND, DIVIDE, AND THE DIVINEˆ, she discovered that the structure had taken on unexpected meanings in the interim. For elderly residents in their 90s, the wall remained an ugly embodiment of the housing loan practices of the 20th century. For those in their 50s, the wall represented a demarcation between “the cool black kids” who lived on one side and the “not so cool black kids” who dwelled on the other. “The wall was like a right of passage,” Wallace explained, relating what residents had told her about their experiences. “If you could walk the wall, you were cool, you could go meet your friend on the other side.” For children growing up in the neighborhood today, the wall has become a place to meet, a pragmatic landmark best known for its murals and proximity to a grassy park. “It was interesting to see how these different manifestations and interactions with the wall happened based on generations,” said Wallace. The Annenberg exhibition, which runs through December 2019, explores the history and varied meanings of walls throughout the world, including Hadrian’s Wall, The Great Wall of China, and the current best-known incarnation of intolerance, the U.S./Mexico border wall. Yet Wallace’s accompanying video and still photographs of the Detroit Wall, and those who live with it, are perhaps one of the most affecting surprises within the show. On an intimate level, her work demonstrates that barriers, no matter how indomitable they seem, can never contain the scope of human imagination.
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Feature Focus

Three can't-miss views on architecture from the 57th New York Film Festival
The 57th New York Film Festival just ended, but luckily many of the films that feature architecture as a main character will be released in theaters or available online. Here's a breakdown of the must-see flicks where cities takes center stage: Motherless Brooklyn A fictionalized Robert Moses called Moses Randolph (played by Alec Baldwin), drives the plot of Motherless Brooklyn, a film by and starring Edward Norton, scion of the real estate Rouse family. It's set in the 1950s in what he calls “the secret history of modern New York, with…the devastation of the old city from neighborhoods right up to Penn Station, perpetrated at the hands of an autocratic, almost imperial force.” That ruthless force is Randolph, Commissioner of Parks, Buildings and an “Authority.” For reference, the Triborough Bridge can be seen through his office window. In the film, Randolph plans slum clearance in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, just as he has just done in Tremont in the Bronx, which is protested by Gabby Horowitz (played by Cherry Jones), a Jane Jacobs stand-in. Randolph is at the root of a murder, which Norton’s character, a gumshoe with Tourette’s syndrome, is investigating. The film treats us to actual locations: we drive by the Jones Beach Water Tower, hold a rally in Washington Square, and we even visit (in CGI) the original Penn Station, demolished under Moses. Free Time  Free Time, a documentary set in the same period, is a real-life counterweight to Motherless Brooklyn. It celebrates neighborhoods that could be in danger of Randolph/Moses’s slum clearance gentrification plans. The film opens with a sequence of carved stone architectural ornaments, which serve as a leitmotif throughout this black-and-white-filmed poem that was shot between 1958 to 1960 and newly edited by now 88-year old filmmaker Manfred Kirschheimer. With shots filmed in Washington Heights, Hell’s Kitchen, and West 83 Street, it shows construction workers tearing down buildings and putting up new ones, bridges, and, most of all, neighborhoods. Parasite Another kind of ruthlessness is symbolized by the architecture of contrasts in Parasite, winner of the Palme d’Or at Cannes, directed by Bong Joon-ho. The struggling Kim family occupies a grim basement apartment in Seoul. They attach themselves to the Parks, a wealthy family, and their high modernist house built by a prominent (fictional) Korean architect named Namgoong, who built it for himself before moving to Paris. The Parks identify themselves with the architect’s creativity and maintain the modernist aesthetic. The man levels of the house, including a hidden subterranean fallout shelter, factor into the plot, as does the plate-glass facade leading to the walled-in garden, an oasis in the midst of the capital city. The film is a tale of class conflict, deception, and home. More to see Other films that feature architecture include Pain and Glory by Pedro Almodóvar in which the main character, a filmmaker (played by Antonio Banderas), lives in an art-filled and colorful Madrid apartment with sliding glass walls after growing up in a “cave-like” apartment lit by a skylight. Martin Scorsese sets his new film, The Irishman, in mid-century Philadelphia, New York, and Detroit while Noah Baumbach uses the many apartments and theaters of New York as a contrast to the endless houses, offices, and restaurants of Los Angeles in Marriage Story. Of the short films featured in the festival's Projections category, Kansas Atlas (Peggy Ahwesh) shows split-screen aerials in the dead center of the United States, with land tracts, houses, factories, silos, and turbines, as SIGNAL 8 (Simon Liu), provides a psychedelic, fast-cut journey through the urban archeology and construction sites of Hong Kong as a storm approaches. A Topography of Memory (Burak Çevik) features CCTV footage of Istanbul and Houses (for Margaret) (Luke Fowler) is about a woman who doesn’t want to be confined by a house, but loves going into buildings.
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A Magnet for Minimalism

UNDECORATED converts an old radiator garage in Detroit into a glowy bar-restaurant
An unassuming brick building in Detroit’s long-neglected Core City neighborhood was once home to a booming repair shop in the heyday of automotive manufacturing. “Magnet Radiator Works,” was emblazoned on the entrance of the facility in faded red paint and still is, except today the 2,100-square-foot structure is instead one of the hottest restaurants to pop up in the Motor City this year. Featuring an interior ambiance that feels both futuristic and chill, Magnet is the vision of Ishtiaq Raffiuddin, principal of local firm UNDECORATED, and developer Philip Kafka, both the minds behind the 2017 Thai-food sensation TAKOI. The duo transformed a former garage near downtown Detroit into a minimalistic and intimate space that aids Chef Brad Greenhill in serving up a bold Mediterranean cuisine. Read the full article on our interiors and design website, aninteriormag.com.