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Detroit's Tall Tale

Detroit to host Michigan’s tallest building at former Hudson’s site
The former Hudson's site at 1206 Woodward Avenue in Detroit will soon be host to Michigan’s tallest building. Designed by SHoP Architects, the development will top off at 912 feet, tying One Prudential Plaza in Chicago for the title of the 32nd tallest building in the United States. Previously expected to rise to only 800 feet, the structure will be a full 200 feet taller than the Renaissance Center, Detroit’s current tallest. SHoP’s newly released design drawings feature a stepped tower, scrapping the previous plans for an observation deck. “Stepping allows for terraces for amenities and possible hospitality spaces," said Bill Sharples of SHoP Architects on the updated plans. "The addition of new programming in the latest iteration of the design allowed us as architects and designers to break down the scale of the tower even further, and to approach it even more holistically, something we have been conscious of since the beginning of the project." The 1.4 million square foot development, which includes a twelve-story podium structure in addition to the tower, will be mixed use. The podium will house office, event, and exhibition space, while the tower will house hotel and residential units. Seven hundred parking spaces will be located within an underground garage. The development intends to link retail on Woodward Avenue with cultural destinations near the Detroit Public Library. Bedrock LLC was chosen as the developer in 2013 via an invited completion to study the potential to develop the former site of the flagship J.L. Hudson department store, and the firm has developed the site along with SHoP and Hamilton Anderson Associates of Detroit. The project will be partially financed through tax breaks to Bedrock via the Michigan Strategic Fund, as well as the MIThrive Initiative. The structure intended for the Hudson's site is one of four in the works for Bedrock that will be working with these programs. Built in stages from 1911 to 1946, the Hudson's flagship building on Woodward Avenue was once the tallest department store in the world at 25 stories. The store closed in 1983 and the building was demolished in 1998. A portion of the basement of the original structure was used for parking at the site until Bedrock broke ground on the new structure in December 2017. The new structure is not expected to show any verticality for another fourteen months.
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The Future is Green

Major investment coming to Detroit and Buffalo’s waterfront park projects
As Detroit and Buffalo get set to take on two transformative park projects along their respective waterfronts, both cities have been generously backed by a philanthropic organization aiming to enhance green space and bolster community engagement. Today, the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation announced its pledge to invest over $1.2 billion in the cities by 2035 in honor of its founder, the Buffalo Bills’ late owner, and his centennial birthday. The Foundation is making a sizable donation to Western New York and Southeast Michigan—the two areas Wilson loved most—by committing a combined $200 million for upgraded parks and 250 miles of trails in the regions. A large chunk of that change will go directly to revitalizing LaSalle Park in Buffalo and West Riverfront Park in Detroit. With a design already envisioned by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA) and David Adjaye, the latter parkland will give Michiganites long-desired, tangible access to the Detroit River. Though the 77-acre LaSalle Park has stretched across Lake Erie’s edge since the 1930s, it’s massive potential for further beautification and elevated programming could increase the quality of life for Buffalo residents and beyond. Dave Enger, president of the Foundation, stressed that community involvement is the key to taking on these monumental landscape goals. “Foundations don’t build parks, communities do,” he said. “Our vision is really to support these wonderful projects and the people that have the vision.” The design process is well underway for West Riverfront Park in downtown Detroit. Situated atop a former industrial piece of land, the 22-acre parkland will be a year-round destination for fishing, skating or swimming, sports, entertainment, and family gatherings. MVVA’s proposal was chosen over 80 other submissions in an international design competition to reimagine the park, which was transferred from private ownership to the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy in 2014. Since their master plan was selected earlier this spring, MVVA has worked alongside the Conservancy and the Detroit Mayor’s office to garner feedback from locals and find out their personal ambitions for the park. The firm’s principal, Michael Van Valkenburgh, said his team especially loved talking to people aged 60 and older about their childhoods in Detroit—the places they loved and why. For many, the secluded Belle Isle was the only locale they could go to enjoy green space and the river at the same time. But that’s about to change thanks to these new ideas for downtown. “Not every place in Detroit has what New York’s Brooklyn Bridge Park offers—a way to touch the water and put your toes in,” said Van Valkenburgh. “Because Detroit is so vast horizontally, we knew needed to add shock and awe to the design to get Detroiters who were far away to come to the water. Michiganders feel defined by and proud that the state is surrounded on three sides by the Great Lakes. We thought giving access to the water, through this cove and beach creation, would be a big draw.” A construction start date hasn’t yet been announced for West Riverfront Park, but officials estimate it will be complete by 2022. Van Valkenburgh is sure the master plan will go through many design iterations before ground is broken and he’s excited about more community input. “I’ve been going to public meetings since 1990,” he said. “These have been the most uplifting public meetings I’ve ever been a part of. People come with a real sense that this park is going to be a big lift for the city. They really want it.” At the other end of Lake Erie is LaSalle Park in Buffalo. Though it’s a long-loved and well-utilized community treasure, city stakeholders agree that it could use significant improvements. In 1998, the city conducted a planning review to overhaul the expansive parkland and identify priorities for a new design and upgraded programming. That vision was never realized until the Regional Institute at the University of Buffalo began researching its history and surveying people through a project called Imagine LaSalle. A focus group even spent this summer exploring the park and visiting other famous green spaces in Chicago, Cincinnati, and New York for inspiration. “The feedback has been tremendous so far,” said Brendan Mehaffey, executive director for the city’s Office of Strategic Planning. “Part of the mayoral administration’s core values is inclusion so we’ve talked to people from all backgrounds including low-income individuals, young professionals, business owners, and more.” Community engagement is at the heart of both efforts in Buffalo and Detroit. Much like Imagine LaSalle, MVVA also transported a busload of teenagers to visit their Maggie Daley Park in Chicago, and other groups went to New York and Philadelphia. Mehaffey sees the connection between the two waterfront park projects, and the two cities in general, as vital to their respective successes. “The Detroit team is much further into the design process than we are, so we’re delving into their research to try and discover best practices for building our own LaSalle Park,” he said. “I think that commonality between us is part of what the Wilson Foundation’s statement is going to make to the country.” Enger also believes the two cities are inextricably important to one another—that’s why his organization has zeroed in on their combined futures. He emphasized that spurring economic development through green space is a key way to democratize the municipalities on a greater level. “Where else in the United States are you going to find world-class parks in post-industrial cities that overlook international border crossings and feature some of the most magnificent sunrises and sunsets?" he said. "We think the total leverage of this project will be far greater than what our investment will bring.”
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On This Rock I Will Build My Tower

Detroit’s upcoming tallest tower teeters on final decision of total height
Downtown Detroit is slated to build one of the tallest buildings in the Midwest, set over the former footprint of the city’s iconic J.L. Hudson department store. Though construction on the project has already begun, the exact height of the soaring structure remains unresolved. Crain’s Detroit Business reported that the $909-million mixed-use tower planned for the long-vacant Hudson site could reach as high as 912 feet—an increase of over 100 feet from previous estimates. But the developers won’t make a final decision on its height until the end of January. This is the third time Bedrock LLC, owned by Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert, has increased its estimated elevation and updated the design. The complex is being designed by Detroit-based Hamilton Anderson Associates and SHoP Architects. Though the skyscraper won’t make the list of top 10 tallest towers in the country, it will break the record for the largest high-rise in the Motor City. As of now, the design shows the tower next to a nine-story podium connected by a public plaza and alleyway. It’s anticipated to include programming for residential space, and potentially room for hotel or commercial use. The additional 112 feet of height would allow the architects more flexibility in designing the building's various programs, according to Crain’s. Per the current designs, that number coincides with the established length of the elevator core.   The project was first announced in February 2017 with the tower reaching a maximum height of 734 feet. It was projected to feature space for retail and restaurants, events and conferences, offices and exhibits, as well as residential units. A public observation deck and an underground parking garage were also cited in the initial plans. Current renderings reveal two glass-clad, boxy constructions with outdoor terraces and greenspace. The project is estimated to take four-to-five years to complete. Demolition of the existing parking garage on site is nearly finished and foundation work is already underway. 
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God's Plan

A design competition brings kaleidoscopic sukkahs to downtown Detroit
After an international design contest that drew 78 entries from 14 countries, five winning sukkahs (temporary huts built for the weeklong Jewish holiday Sukkot) have landed in Detroit’s Capitol Park. The competition was part of Sukkah x Detroit, a celebration of Jewish culture, Detroit’s status as a UNESCO City of Design, and the city’s large number of urban farms; the chosen sukkahs make reference to all three. Sukkah x Detroit was an initiative of the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue as part of Detroit’s Month of Design, and all five winning designs will be on display until the festival’s end on September 30. Sukkahs are meant to be flexible and at least partially exposed to the elements, and observant Jews are expected to eat and sleep in the temporary structures during the seven days of Sukkot. All of the winning structures put a playful spin on the typical sukkah typology but were certified by two rabbis to ensure they met biblical requirements and were fully usable. Abre Etteh of New Malden, U.K., sought to evoke the light that filters through a swaying treetop canopy with his entry, Hallel. Painted blue plywood was used to form the structure of Hallel, while 500 freshly-milled cherry shingles were hung from the ceiling. The shingles all move with the breeze, and dappled light is reflected in a brass-covered bowl of water in the center of the floor. Gamma Architects from Gibraltar focused on sharing in both the physical and spiritual sense with their Shuk-kah. This sukkah was built from recycled white vegetable crates, ubiquitous sights at food markets around the world, which were used for the structure’s walls, furniture, and central table. A “roof” of bamboo scaffolding was installed overhead that would allow visitors to see the stars, and LEDs were run through the crates making up the walls, enabling the hut to softly glow at night. Noah Ives, of Portland, Oregon, reinterpreted the sukkah as an art object with his biomorphic Seedling Sukkah, which resembles a pinecone or hive at first glance. Laser-cut plywood “leaves” were used to tile the outside of Seedling Sukkah, creating a lightweight, open pavilion that references nature in both material and form. JE-LE, the only Detroit-based winner, took cues from the vibrancy and sculptural qualities of fruit for Pocket Space, by referencing the packed fruit ornamentations traditionally hung inside of sukkahs. Sukkahs are by nature designed to be intimate spaces, but JE-LE expanded the uses of Pocket Space through a series of rotating interior nets that can be adjusted based on use. Finally, the Cambridge-based Nice One Projects embraced the inherently paradoxical nature of the sukkah (a structure that by definition must remain exposed and open to nature) with Chaffy. Nice One took the premise to its logical extreme, attempting to “dissolve” all sense of hard walls by creating a continuous wall clad in thousands of thatch bundles. Inside, guests will find a respite from the outside world, allowing them to see out while remaining obscured. Sukkah x Detroit was modeled after New York’s 2010 Sukkah City, a competition that brought 12 high-design sukkahs to Union Square and spawned both a book and a documentary on the exhibition. Unable to make it to Detroit by September 30? The Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan and JCC Harlem are presenting five sukkahs designed by artists from now until October 8, including a scaled down version of Israeli architect Avner Sher's Jerusalem 950m2 (Quarter Acre) Alternate Topographies. All 78 Sukkah x Detroit entries can be seen online here.
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Bridging the Gap

Phillip K. Smith III illuminates abandoned historic Detroit sky bridge
This past month, architect-turned-artist Phillip K. Smith III revived the 100-foot-long walkway that links two of Detroit’s most celebrated skyscrapers with a dynamic light installation. Wedged between the Guardian Building and One Woodward Avenue, the suspended passageway was built in the 1970s to allow employees of the American Natural Resources Company and Michigan Consolidated Gas Company to pass freely between the two office buildings without interference from inner-city traffic and congestion. When one of the companies relocated in the 1990s, however, the bulky walkway was abandoned. Fortunately, the sky bridge has now been revitalized with a permanent installation by the California designer known for his extravagant, light-based, and Coachella-esque works of art. Phillip K. Smith III has completely transformed the neglected passageway into a vibrant, floating bar of light that electrifies the streets of downtown Detroit. “Detroit Skybridge is another example of how underutilized spaces can be reimagined for the benefit of the public,” said the owner of Library Street Collective, the art organization that conceptualized the project. “Phillip’s use of light and color, along with his understanding of architecture and scale, makes this a compelling project for the city.” Smith drew inspiration from the geometric white concrete of Minoru Yamasaki’s 1962 One Woodward building and the variegated interior of the 1929 Guardian Building. His design, which is composed of shifting tones and moving planes of light, has added a pop of color and a renewed interest to the historic city’s constantly evolving skyline. “By day, the Skybridge will continue to be seen as its historic self within the architecture and massing of Downtown. But by night, it will become a beacon for the beauty, creativity, and innovation of Detroit,” said Smith. “I am interested in creating experiences that tap into ‘universal beauty’—experiences that make us step away from our pattern, our life, our work, our errands, and allow us to see sublime beauty shifting and changing before our eyes.”
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Reflecting History

Doug Aitken’s creates a Mirage in a historic Detroit bank
On October 10, the doors of Detroit’s long-abandoned State Savings Bank will open to the public and reveal a space radically different from the building's original interior. Among the building’s elegant columns, historic bank vault, and vast interior space sits Doug Aitken’s latest art installation, a mystifying sculpture in the form of a one-story American suburban house, equipped with a maze of mirror-clad rooms and hallways that will leave visitors both disoriented and perplexed. The sprawling design, known as Mirage Detroit, diffracts and reflects every aspect of its surroundings, including the historic architecture of the antiquated building in which it resides. The resulting contrast is intense: the bank, with its bold sculptural supports, decorative enrichments, elaborate cornice, and over-scaled features, is juxtaposed with Aitken’s angular, mirrored sculpture and the room’s marble floor, which has been completely obscured by raw earth and river rocks. The merging of these elements conjures images of “a constantly shifting landscape that incorporates the organic and inorganic, reflects the past, and questions the future,” according to a statement from the artist's studio. Mirage Detroit will mark one of the first times that the public has had open access to the State Savings Bank, which was built in 1900 and has been vacant for decades. The bank, which is impressive by virtue of its sheer size, classical décor, and adaptation to the urban American landscape, represents the history of Detroit while looking towards its future. It was saved from demolition after it was purchased by Bedrock in late 2014. “In many ways, Mirage will become its surroundings,” says Anthony Curis, owner of Detroit-based art gallery Library Street Collective. “It will reflect and intensify one of the city’s greatest historical and cultural contributions—its grand architecture.” Over the course of the exhibition period, Mirage Detroit will host an array of cultural events ranging from educational programs, musical performances, and community programs funded by organizations like Cranbrook Academy of Art, Art Museum, Museum of Modern Art Detroit (MOCAD), and College for Creative Studies.
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Motor City Month

AN picks out highlights from the Detroit Month of Design lineup
In celebration of Detroit’s designation as the first UNESCO City of Design, the Detroit Design Festival will transition from a weeklong event into Detroit Month of Design. From September 1 through 30, over 25 participants will present 41 events and special projects throughout the city in celebration of Motor City design. Detroit became the first and only city in America to receive a UNESCO City of Design designation in 2015, joining a network of over 20 cities using creativity as a driver of long-term equitable development. Perhaps known best for its program to designate World Heritage Sites, UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) was chartered in Paris in 1946 as a specialized branch of the United Nations pushing for the protection of justice and human rights through the advocacy of cultural heritage, in both tangible form—such as monuments, natural resources, and sites—and intangible, such as folkways, gastronomy, and literature. Detroit has been an active member of the City of Design network, with representatives traveling to other partner cities across the globe to participate in convenings and festivals. Detroit Month of Design is planned and executed completely by Design Core Detroit, an organization established in 2010 to recognize Detroit as the origin point for much of America’s industrial design and a driver of influential creative thought. Here are some Detroit Month of Design highlights: Sukkah x Detroit Sukkah x Detroit celebrates Detroit’s designation as a UNESCO City of Design as well as its 1,300 urban farms. Sukkah x Detroit received 78 applications from 17 countries to design contemporary sukkahs, which are ancient symbolic structures built for the celebration of Sukkot, a holiday commemorating Jewish freedom from slavery. The winning sukkahs will be on display in historic Capital Park, along with complementary programs and events. SHAPE: Defining Furniture in Michigan's Design Legacy Next:Space Detroit is curating an exhibit of contemporary furniture by the likes of Alex Drew and No One, Nina Cho, Colin Tury, and Hunt & Noyer inspired by the design theories and practices of Charles and Ray Eames and Florence Knoll (Knoll was a native Michigander). The furniture will go on display at the Shinola Canfield Flagship Store. Light Up Livernois Now in its fifth year, Light Up Livernois celebrates one of Detroit’s oldest and most significant commercial corridors, known for its connection to Detroit fashion. Vacant storefronts will be activated with art installations and pop-up shops, while existing businesses will be offering special programming and goods, and will be open late into the night. Previous iterations of Light Up Livernois offered musical performances and fashion vignettes. 2018 Junior League of Detroit Designers’ Show House Detroit designers are let loose within the 1922 Charles T. Fisher Mansion, the largest home in the Boston-Edison Historic District. The estate includes 14 bedrooms and 14 bathrooms, and includes a pub, a private chapel, and a prohibition-era liquor vault. From September 15 through October 7, 39 designers will transform over 40 spaces within the 18,000-square-foot home and throughout the gardens. Picnic Curated by Campo Studio (designers Fernando Bales & Elise DeChard), Picnic bills itself as a “spatial feast,” with the project blurring the lines between art and architecture. The piece will bring together a series of mobile furniture armatures, each with an independent presence and use. The project will be assembled and shown in the Simone DeSousa Gallery. Gold Ink + Red Wine at POST POST, a new, open-concept retail store on Detroit’s east side, will open its doors for tours, demos, and workshops all month long, allowing visitors to peruse new work by in-house design and production studios, including Mutual Admiration, Hooray Forever, and Scarlet Crane. The 1940s building that houses POST was a former post office and served for a while as a Baptist church. The store opened in 2017.
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Music Living In Time

Porch Life, a building-sized instrument, lands in Detroit
A little bit of New Orleans’s music and architecture scene will touch down in Detroit this weekend with a music house’s residency at the Dabls MBAD African Bead Museum. 'Porch Life' is a 22-foot-tall mobile touring installation, conceptualized and built by New Orleans Airlift, a nonprofit arts organization. New Orleans Airlift is best known for The Music Box Village, an artist-built sculpture garden based in New Orleans and “a place where play, imagination, experimentation, collaboration, community and hard work come together.” The organization has been using common household architectural features as musical instruments. Porch Life, like other Music Box productions, features 11 musical instruments built into the multi-story home that professional and novice musicians can use. Handrails become harps; windows become percussion instruments; porch swings act as metronomes. It is the first mobile musical home that the organization has created, however, measuring 16 feet wide by 22 feet tall by 21 feet long and weighing 6,000 lbs—a hefty weight for a truck to tow. The project originally started off on Kickstarter, raising and meeting its goal of $14,000 to bring the house to life and on the road, hitting New Orleans’s Jazz Fest 2018, the Eaux Claires Festival in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, Detroit, and New York City. It will then return home to New Orleans to be incorporated into the Music Box Village. Fresh from Eaux Claires Festival, Porch Life's Detroit residency starts at 1 p.m. on Saturday, July 14 and will be open to the public, free of admission until 7 p.m.  
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Bridging the Gap

Detroit’s bridge to Canada ready for construction but faces political challenges
The Gordie Howe International Bridge, a six-lane span between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, is set to begin construction this fall after the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority (WDBA) selected a team to design and build the structure. Bridging North America, an architecture, engineering, and construction 'whos-who' team including ACS Infrastructure Canada Inc., Dragados Canada Inc., Fluor Canada Ltd., AECOM, RBC Dominion Securities Inc., Carlos Fernandez Casado S.L/FHECOR Ingenieros Consultores, S.A., Moriyama and Teshima Architects, and Smith-Miller + Hawkinson Architects, LLP, will oversee construction of the $3.7 billion bridge. The WDBA touted the bridge’s benefits in a project update on July 5. The Detroit-Windsor crossing is currently serviced by four separate crossings and accounts for 25 percent of the trade between the U.S. and Canada. Gordie Howe is supposed to streamline entry and exit across both countries for the 2.6 million trucks that make the crossing annually. The 1.5-mile-long span would be the largest cable-stayed bridge in North America and would be supported by two enormous, A-shaped structural towers. In addition to the six lanes for vehicles, three in each direction, bike lanes have been planned for the side of the bridge facing Detroit. The bridge project includes new ports of entry on both borders and a new connection to I-75. Not everyone is on board with speeding up the flow of goods from Canada. Reflecting the sometimes tumultuous relationship that the Trump administration has had with America's neighbor to the north, owners of the nearby Ambassador Bridge, the Moroun family, are reportedly trying to kill the project. The Ambassador Bridge currently handles 60 to 70 percent of truck traffic across the Detroit River, and the Canadian Government, owners of the WDBA, have stipulated that the Ambassador Bridge will need to be torn down once the Gordie Howe is complete. In response, the Morouns have been buying commercial airtime on Washington, D.C.-area Fox News stations in an attempt to influence Trump to scrap the Gordie Howe. The family has also been trying to get the Trump administration to inject the Gordie Howe into NAFTA negotiations and to pressure the Canadian government to drop its requirement that the Ambassador Bridge be dismantled. The Morouns are also fighting to keep the Michigan Department of Transportation from using eminent domain to acquire the land it needs to build a 167-acre port-of-entry in Detroit’s Delray neighborhood. The WDBA is still negotiating contract details with Bridging North America, and if everything proceeds as planned, work on the Gordie Howe should begin by the end of September.
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Museum Makeover

Finalists chosen for Detroit’s Midtown cultural campus redesign
Three finalists have been chosen in the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) and Midtown Detroit, Inc. (MDI) competition to reimagine the campus that connects twelve iconic Detroit cultural institutions. After being narrowed down to eight firms this spring, Agence TER from Paris, France, Mikyoung Kim Design from Boston, and Minneapolis-based TEN x TEN have been unanimously selected by the eight-person jury out of 44 initial submissions, coming from more than ten countries and 22 cities. Each of the firms has secured Detroit-area partners working in diverse roles, from lighting to market strategy. The finalists are charged with studying the site and developing proposals to be presented to the public at the DIA on January 23, 2019, with a concurrent exhibition running until April 2. The winning team is expected to be announced in March 2019. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape how our arts and cultural district operates, and we hope that the public will take advantage of the many planned opportunities to provide feedback on what they would like to see and experience,” said Susan Mosey, Executive Director of Midtown Detroit, Inc. With the DIA and MDI looking to redevelop the area that connects the likes of the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, the Center for Creative Studies, the Scarab Club and, of course, the DIA, the competition looks to attract local and international visitors to these iconic Detroit institutions with a more accessible and user-friendly campus that has the flexibility to support events and public art.
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Model T-squared

Snøhetta to design Ford’s research campuses in Detroit and Dearborn, including Michigan Central Station
It’s no secret that Detroit, Michigan, is in the midst of a downtown revival after the city’s financial downfall and historic bankruptcy in 2013. The new Detroit is flourishing with new restaurants, artist spaces, small business incubators, and investment from large corporations that are pulling people back into the city. In the latest development of Detroit’s comeback, Snøhetta will be collaborating with Ford Motor Company to re-envision and design the car company’s headquarters and campuses in both Dearborn and Detroit. Ford started its upgrade back in 2016 with plans to overhaul its existing facilities in Dearborn, the original headquarters. With the Dearborn redevelopment still on track, Ford also recently acquired a new site in its expansion: Michigan Central Station in Corktown, one of Detroit’s oldest neighborhoods. The conceptual designs for both are being led by Snøhetta, who was chosen as lead Design Architect. Ford recently bought the Michigan Central Station, a Beaux-Arts icon that represents Detroit’s urban decline, with plans to restore and redevelop the decrepit train station. It will now serve as the central hub of the planned corporate campus in Corktown, serving both Ford employees and the general public with workspaces, restaurants, retail, and housing. The campus will also serve as an innovation hub for the future of transportation, researching urban mobility solutions including smart vehicles, roads, parking, public transit, and autonomous and electric vehicles. The new buildings and public spaces will be formulated in collaboration with the Corktown community and city officials. Ford is one of many car companies looking to the future. With the rise of automated vehicles and increased technological capabilities, car companies are doing more than just producing cars. Ford, with the creation of its new research campuses, plans to implement the first City of Tomorrow study in Corktown, envisioning the future of mobility and rethinking existing cities. “We at Ford want to help write the next chapter, working together in Corktown with the best startups, the smartest talent and the thinkers, engineers and problem-solvers who see things differently—all to shape the future of mobility and transportation,” Chairman Bill Ford said at the celebration of Ford’s purchase of the Michigan Central Station, as reported in Detroit Free Press. Design and community engagement processes for the Corktown campus are just in the beginning stages, while the Dearborn campus conceptual design is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
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Comeback Station

Ford Motors buys iconic Michigan Central Station in Detroit
Thirty years after the last Amtrak train pulled out of Detroit’s now notorious Michigan Central Station (MCS), Ford Motor Company has confirmed the purchase of the structure from longtime owner Matthew Moroun. Crain’s Detroit Business first reported Ford to be in possible negotiation to purchase the 1913 Beaux Arts passenger station in Corktown in March 2018, but could not provide details on the sale. In a press conference in front of the station's colonnaded entrance on June 11, Moroun announced that the Ford Motor Company would act as developer, owner and user of the landmark structure. Ford is expected to detail its plans for the building on June 19. The three-story depot with attached 18-story office tower has become a convenient symbol for Detroiters and preservationists to both criticize the city’s development practices and celebrate the ability of its unique as-is built environment to inspire the cultural class. Michigan Central Station has born witness to the complexities of Detroit’s 21st century narrative, particularly in Corktown. MCS sat idle as the last game was played at Tiger Stadium in 1999 and finally demolished in 2009, just as Major League Baseball stadium owners were figuring out that fans preferred an authentic urban experience around their ballparks—bars, restaurants and neighborhoods—over convenient parking, a scenario that had naturally occurred in Corktown. As new development crept east along Michigan Avenue, it began to encircle MCS. In 2015, the building mysteriously received new windows and a freight elevator, and in 2017, it hosted “Detroit Homecoming,” an invitation-only event that filled the graffitied, Roman bathhouse-inspired waiting room with banquet tables and former Motor City expats in an attempt to lure possible investors. MCS is no stranger to redevelopment plans. A casino was proposed in the building for the first time in 1989, with former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick proposing to reuse the structure as headquarters for the Detroit Police Department in 2003. Armed by the 1984 Dangerous Building Ordinance, the City of Detroit moved to demolish the structure in 2009 using federal economic stimulus money but was prevented from doing so based on the MCS’s listing on the National Register of Historic Places. “This amazing news is a testament to the fact that it’s important to hang on to historic buildings even if they’re vacant and even if we can’t see the endgame immediately,” said urban planner Claire Nowak-Boyd. “Detroit is changing rapidly right now. Few people would have imagined this outcome in 2009.”