Search results for "ideas city detroit"

Placeholder Alt Text

Peak Biennial?

The global design circuit comes to a head this fall with over a dozen events
“syzygy noun syz·y·gy | \ ˈsi-zə-jē: the nearly straight-line configuration of three celestial bodies (such as the sun, moon, and earth during a solar or lunar eclipse) in a gravitational system.” —Merriam-Webster It seems like somehow all the world’s design triennials and biennials have lined up to happen in the fall of 2019. September is especially packed with events for the global design cognoscenti, but the deluge will continue through the new year. Here is a breakdown of over 20 design-related celebrations from Chicago to Seoul to Uruguay. Exhibit Columbus August 24 to December 1 Columbus, IN Inspired by the 1986 Good Design in the Community: Columbus, Indiana National Building Museum exhibition, this year’s edition of Exhibit Columbus will rethink what good design means today. Eighteen projects will activate downtown Columbus, including installations from the 2018–19 Miller Prize recipients, SO – IL, MASS Design Group, and Frida Escobedo Studio, among others. Detroit Month of Design September 2019 Detroit The Detroit Design Festival is extending from a week to an entire month with programming from Design Core, the steward of Detroit’s 2018 UNESCO City of Design program. Emerging local studios, educational institutions, and major companies will showcase projects and events throughout the city as well as installations from the festival’s three main competitions. Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism September 7 to November 10, 2019 Seoul, South Korea Sponsored by the Seoul city government, this year’s biennial, themed “Collective City,” invites a global discussion on how architecture practices can help change the political paradigms of development and influence policy ideas. Along with directors Francisco Sanin and Lim Jaeyong, curator Beth Hughes will organize the main exhibition, which will showcase new models of collaboration, governing, and research. Estonia: Tallinn Architecture Biennale (TAB) September 11 to November 30, 2019 Tallinn, Estonia Focusing on the theme “Beauty Matters” TAB will look at new interests in aesthetics and how the concept of beauty is developing in architectural discourse and across cultures. Curated by Dr. Yael Resiner, the fifth edition of the biennial will feature nine exhibitors including Sou Fujimoto, Elena Manferdini, and Space Popular. Istanbul Biennial September 14 to November 10, 2019 Istanbul, Turkey Organized by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts, the 15th edition of this citywide biennial will feature work from over 60 artists relating to the concept of the Anthropocene. Curated by French art scholar Nicolas Bourriaud, the exhibition will be held across three venues: the 600-year-old Istanbul Shipyard, the Pera Museum, and Buyukada Island. Participants will showcase pieces that detail the impact of human waste on other species and the environment. Chicago Architecture Biennial (CAB) September 19, 2019, to January 5, 2020 Chicago Now in its third cycle, CAB will be curated by Yesomi Umolu, Sepake Angiama, and Paulo Tavares under the theme “...and other such stories.” Through engaging the narratives of different cultures and their historical memories, the biennial will look at the importance of space, architecture, and nature in connection to the practices of building, designing, planning, policymaking, teaching, and activism. Oslo Architecture Triennale (OAT) September 26 to November 24, 2019 Oslo, Norway The seventh edition of the Nordic region’s biggest architecture festival will call attention to how architecture might respond to the current climate emergency and to social division in cities around the world. Titled “Enough: The Architecture of Degrowth,” this year’s OAT is curated by Maria Smith, Matthew Dalziel, Phineas Harper, and Cecilie Sachs Olsen, and will center on four concepts, or “institutions of growth”: the library, the theater, the playground, and the academy. Chile: Feria Libre de Arquitectura October 3 to 27, 2019 Santiago, Chile Having started in 1977, the Free Architecture Fair in Chile is one of the oldest biennials in the world, and this year, it will largely be held in Santiago. With a focus on “the common and the ordinary,” participants will try to answer questions regarding the role of architectural production for people who don’t live on the extreme edges of society. Trienal de Arquitectura de Lisboa October 3 to December 2, 2019 Lisbon, Portugal The fifth edition of the Lisbon Triennial will focus on the theme “The Poetics of Reason” and will be broken up into five exhibitions curated by various experts. Claiming that architecture “rests on reason,” the showcase will break down the ways in which architecture is shareable and can be understood by anyone. Lagos Biennial October 26 to November 30, 2019 Lagos Island Organized by the Àkéte Art Foundation, the second Lagos Biennial will ask: “How to Build a Lagoon with Just a Bottle of Wine?” Curated by Antawan I. Byrd and Tosin Oshinowo, the event will challenge artists, designers, and the public to think about how the city of Lagos, with its 21 million residents, can continue to expand its built environment while responding to climate change, socioeconomic inequality, and international exchanges. Sharjah Architecture Triennial November 9, 2019, to February 8, 2020 Sharjah, United Arab Emirates Adrian Lahoud, dean of the School of Architecture at the Royal College of Art, London, will curate the inaugural run of this triennial around the theme of the “Rights of Future Generations.” With major exhibitions held at the Al-Qasimiyah School and the Old Al Jubail Vegetable Market, participants will rethink the role of architecture and how it addresses climate change across the Global South. Shenzhen Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism/Architecture (UABB) December 2019 to March 2020 Shenzhen, China The eighth edition of the UABB is co-hosted by Shenzhen and Hong Kong and is the only biennial dedicated to urban issues. This year’s theme, “Urban Interactions,” will be broken down into two sections, “Eyes of the City” and “Ascending City,” and will be chiefly curated by Carlo Ratti, Meng Jianmin, and Fabio Cavalluci. The main exhibition will be held at the Futian Railway Station and will explore how technological advances can shape urban spaces. Other Notable Events: Experimental Architecture Biennale June 14 to September 1, 2019 Prague, Czech Republic Vienna Biennale for Change June to October 2019 Vienna, Austria Ottawa Architecture Week September 30 to October 6, 2019 Ottawa, Canada London Design Festival September 14 to 22, 2019 London Brazil: XII Bienal Internacional de Arquitecta de São Paulo September 19 to December 19, 2019 São Paulo, Brazil Spain: Bienal de Arquitectura Latinoamericana September 24 to 27, 2019 Pamplona, Spain International Biennale of Architecture Kraków October 8 and 9, 2019 Kraków, Poland Biennale d’ Architecture d’ Orléans #2 – Years of Solitude October 11, 2019, to January 19, 2020 Orléans, France Argentina: XVII Bienal Internacional de Arquitectura de Buenos Aires October 15 to 26, 2019 Buenos Aires, Argentina Dutch Design Week          October 19 to 27, 2019 Eindhoven, the Netherlands Paraguay: XI Bienal Iberoamericana de Arquitectura y Urbanismo October 2019 Asunción, Paraguay
Placeholder Alt Text

Ter-rific Choice

Detroit picks team to shape Midtown cultural center
An effort to connect Detroit’s cluster of some of its most significant institutions, including its iconic Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA), announced today that an international team of urban designers, landscape architects, and technology experts had been selected to create a cultural center in the booming Midtown district. In a year-long process, the Midtown Cultural Connections competition selected a team led by Paris-based Agence Ter, Detroit-based architecture and design studio akoaki, Ann Arbor–based hybrid design firm rootoftwo, and University of Michigan assistant professor and urban planner Harley Etienne, along with other partners. The initial design phase, which will bring all parties together to create a formal plan, will take about 18 months, officials said. The Agence Ter team suggested creating a sort of frame around the ten blocks containing a group of cultural institutions, including the DIA, Wayne State University, the Detroit Historical Society, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, the College For Creative Studies, the Michigan Science Center, and the Scarab Club. Within that “Detroit Square,” the project will bring the inside out through “common ground” or communal backyards running between the buildings and their landscapes, to be activated with outdoor cafes, performance spaces, a mobile DJ booth, green spaces, public art, as well as live performance spaces for events. Woodward Avenue, which runs through this district, also may see its massive size reduced. The selection not only inspires pride among the winning team, said akoaki’s Anya Sirota, but it shows how Detroit’s participating institutions and judges are willing to give “an open-ended framework” a chance to succeed. For Sirota, that means the design will continue to evolve as the team works with local stakeholders, residents, and other parties to make the cultural center truly the heart of Midtown Detroit, one of the city’s most revitalized and vibrant neighborhoods. “We took a risk to create a memorable design that was also suggestable,” Sirota said. “We felt strongly that we would need additional feedback on these ideas [and] we’re excited that the jury went with something that allowed for more conversation with stakeholders.” The size and scope of the project are grand, Sirota added, and previous projects involving this area and around Detroit have gone forward without deep feedback, conversation, and consideration of the long-term effect on the city or its residents. This project seeks to “tread lightly” and be sensitive to placemaking within a city that is more than 300 years old and has concerns about issues like gentrification. Sirota also said she is pleased that the plan the winning team is working on will take issues of mobility, environmental sustainability, and stormwater stewardship into consideration. Having a team made up of experts in physical technology, landscaping, urban planning, and design with a Detroit-centic base should provide many new ideas for the cultural center, she noted. Midtown Detroit Inc. and DIA launched the design competition in 2017 to find a team that could unite twelve cultural and educational institutions with a kind of “town square” feel. The goal was to develop a “unified, dynamic, and inclusive space that facilitates connections throughout the Cultural Center,” DIA director Salvador Salort-Pons has said. The Midtown Cultural Connections project had 44 initial submissions from more than 10 countries and 22 cities. Those were winnowed down to eight firms and then three finalists. The other finalists included TEN x TEN of Minneapolis and Mikyoung Kim Design of Boston.
Placeholder Alt Text

Everyday Festival

IdeasCity heads to New Orleans this April
IdeasCity, the urban culture initiative from New York's New Museum, is bringing its annual festival to New Orleans this April. This year's festival will take place from April 15 to 20 at the Bell Artspace Campus and the New Orleans African American Museum. The theme of this year's event will be "Everyday Festival." The IdeasCity festival comprises a five-day residency program that ends with a one-day public program of talks and performances. In a statement, IdeasCity curator V. Mitch McEwen said: “As New Orleans knows well, a festival is a site of intense reimagination of bodies, streets, space, and time…Through the logic of the festival, we are looking for ways of opening ourselves up to radically new ideas.” This year's presenters will include Black Thought, Imani Perry, Bryan C. Lee, Sue Mobley, LOT-EK, and more. Previous IdeasCity festivals have taken place in Toronto, New York, Detroit, and elsewhere.
Placeholder Alt Text

AR FF

Sundance Film Festival highlights augmented and virtual reality
The Sundance Institute, the organizer of the annual Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, and the Kimball Art Center announced an Arts & Culture District building program in the festival's host city. The Sundance HQ architect hasn't been selected yet, but the Kimball has picked BIG to design its new museum. This initiative set the stage for the festival's 2019 crop of movies focusing on architecture. In It’s Going to be Beautiful, a short documentary about the proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall directed by Luis Gutierrez Arias and John Henry Theisen, we see eight wall prototypes and the surrounding neighborhoods on both sides of the existing border barriers. Less divisively, in Joe Talbot's The Last Black Man in San Francisco, a young man lovingly preserves the rundown Victorian house his family lost. The family originally acquired this ornate structure with a witch’s hat, stained glass windows, wooden archways, and built-in organ after the Japanese owners' internment during World War Two. Gentrification, artistry, and black male identity are explored in this tale of the house. “Your radiator is a D Flat,” says the "house tuner" played by Peter Sarsgaard in director Michael Tyburski's The Sound of Silence. Sarsgaard's character solves New York City residents' ills by painstakingly analyzing their out-of-sync domestic sounds (the toaster accompanying the aforementioned radiator is a G Major). A corporation surreptitiously monetizes his theories with virtual home inspections, advertising on New York City street kiosks. Dan Gilroy’s Velvet Buzzsaw, a sendup of the art world with an art critic (Jake Gyllenhaal), artist (John Malkovich), curator (Toni Collette), and gallerist (Rene Russo) who live and work in stupendous houses, galleries, and the fictional art museum LAMA, which uses Diller, Scofidio + Renfro’s Broad Museum and Gehry’s Disney Concert Hall. New Frontier, the media arts section, showed artworks that used virtual and augmented reality, many of which explored ideas about race and community. THE DIAL is an augmented reality artwork from Peter Flaherty, Jesse Garrison, and Trey Gilmore centered on a house around which a murder mystery unravels. Traveling While Black from Roger Ross Williams, Félix Lajeunesse, and Paul Raphaël uses The Green Book—a 20th-century guide for African-American travelers—as a starting point to drop viewers in Ben’s Chili Bowl in Washington, D.C., where viewers “sit” in a diner booth with storytellers. In Marshall from Detroit, a 360-degree virtual reality documentary from Caleb Slain, Félix Lajeunesse, and Paul Raphaël, we motor with hometown boy Eminem, who talks with journalist Sway Calloway about the city that shaped him. We see an abandoned church, a destroyed factory, a glorious movie palace, a skyscraper, and a hip-hop battle in a freezing-cold abandoned building. Kaiju Confidential is about a different kind of disruption. In this virtual reality short created by Thomas O'Donnell, Ethan Shaftel, and Piotr Karwas, two monsters battle over whose modernist Japanese city is theirs to destroy. The veteran green beast claims the greater metropolitan area, while his 2-headed rival gets relegated to the suburbs. The Immersive Stage, a three-sided projection room, showcased three digital environments: artist Peter Burr's Dirtscraper, an underground system of “smart architecture” overseen by spatial and social engineers; Matt Romein's analmosh, a dynamic audio-visual landscape; and Victor Morales and Jason Batcheller's Esperpento, based on the Madrid of Goya’s Los Caprichos paintings.
Placeholder Alt Text

Inclusive Recovery

Five years after Detroit’s bankruptcy, design fuels recovery
Could Detroit be pioneering a new type of gentrification? It is possible. The recovery—with its innovative experiments in revitalization—is set to become a laboratory of ideas that will redefine gentrification, learning from the urban renaissance of the last 20 years in other cities. The Detroit of the late aughts was a desolate place: The municipal government had all but crumbled in the wake of a depopulation that saw the city go from over 2 million residents to around 700,000. With the loss of people and jobs came the loss of density and infrastructure, which left Detroit the poster child for apocalyptic Rust Belt landscapes. During this period of the late 2000s to the early 2010s, steep real estate discounts allowed artists and entrepreneurs to buy houses and commercial buildings extremely cheap. This legendary scenario led The New York Times to publish an article titled "Last Stop on the L Train: Detroit,” in 2015.  And it certainly feels that way, with vibrant music, arts, food, and design scenes in the city that seem to be linked together by a small community of like-minded people working on a host of cultural projects together. However, much of the buzz about Detroit in the national media has died down. How is Detroit doing five years after becoming the largest city ever to go through a structured bankruptcy, and how is design helping to speculate on new future urbanisms? Today’s Detroit is a different place than five years ago. The days of $500 houses bought at auction and dark, empty landscapes are becoming a thing of the past. Developers and speculators have bought up much of the land around the city center, with Dan Gilbert’s Bedrock Ventures owning almost 95 percent of the downtown area. This area could now pass for a street in downtown Chicago, with high-end boutiques and chains like Warby Parker and lululemon. In other neighborhoods, such as the more industrial Milwaukee Junction, near the Russell Industrial Center—an icon of gritty urban reuse—land and property have been claimed by those waiting to sell or develop it. Other neighborhoods like Corktown and Midtown have seen a resurgence in development, an increase in market-rate housing, and more traditional forms of urban revitalization. Infamously abandoned sites have been bought for eventual redevelopment or reuse. Most strikingly, a Ford-branded security Ford Escape is parked outside the Ford-emblazoned fence at Detroit Central Train Station, a ruin-porn poster child now slated for redevelopment as the auto giant’s “innovation” hub, focusing on autonomous vehicles. Now the challenge will be to deliver on some of the potential that has been so evident over the last decade. Detroit’s municipal government has long been seen as incapable of addressing the city’s problems, such as abandoned buildings, vacant lots, lack of infrastructure, and general disinvestment. Since declaring bankruptcy in 2013, the city has implemented a series of initiatives that have in many ways stabilized it. These include basic things like improving emergency services and transportation. Perhaps most important, new LED streetlights were installed, ending the days when residents carried flashlights in their cars. Perhaps the most dramatic change in Detroit’s governance has been in the city planning department. Architect and former Charlottesville mayor Maurice Cox has been tasked with overseeing the recovery. His first step? Hiring a diverse, interdisciplinary team of 36 planners, architects, urban designers, and landscape designers to rethink how a city can incentivize investment, rebuild infrastructure, redensify targeted neighborhoods, and provide services to new residents while preventing displacement of existing residents and cultures that have endured the city’s darker times. Cox calls it “inclusive recovery.” This comprises measures that harness one of the unique things about Detroit—a high level of community engagement. As a majority African-American city, it is an especially promising place to pioneer these ideas. At a recent event at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD), the artist Tyree Guyton sat down for a talk at the closing for a show about his Heidelberg Project, a self-started community art project he has developed since 1986. Rather than a typical artist’s talk, the event was more like a community town hall, where residents of the nearby neighborhood spoke in detail about how they see the neighborhood changing, and how the evolution could be better. This kind of community-led development will be key to making sure that Detroit can innovate without displacing people or local cultures. The most important priority of the plan is to recover while preserving both local neighborhood culture and affordable housing. Cox’s initiatives include framework plans for targeted neighborhoods that have strong residential numbers and some active housing stock. The planning department identified weak spots surrounded by higher-density areas that could be tied together with coordinated investment, resulting in—thus far—six quarter-mile-by-quarter-mile areas where recovery could be easiest. The proposed Joe Louis Greenway will be a 31.5-mile bike-pedestrian loop that passes mostly through neighborhoods with a median income under $27,500 a year and a 70 percent rate of car access. The greenway will incorporate existing routes, such as the Dequindre Cut, a below-grade rail-line-turned-pedestrian-promenade that is being used as a gentrification vehicle to spur development of a mix of affordable housing embedded in market-rate developments. Development group The Platform will be developing a housing complex at the north end of the cut. This could lead to displacement, but because the city owns so much land along the path, it will experiment with ways to provide affordable housing and transportation without driving people out. Local housing research includes a joint venture between the University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning and the City of Detroit. In studios led by Lars Gräbner and Christina Hansen, students generate ideas about what housing might look like in Detroit, some of which are displayed in exhibitions such as 2017’s A City For All: Future Housing Models for the City of Detroit. These studios also helped produce a series of design guidelines. For example, one line reads: “Impress the value of design on all projects and all audiences—emphasizing equity, design excellence, and inclusion.” As design thinking ramps up, so too will design excellence. Detroit has a long legacy of designers and architects who have called Michigan home, such as Eliel and Eero Saarinen and Albert Kahn. But in recent years, there have been fewer high-quality projects. This is changing, however, with firms such as Lorcan O’Herlihy, SCAPE, Walter Hood, Adjaye Associates, Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, and others signing up to design housing, parks, and urban farms. O’Herlihy, for instance, is working on a housing study for Brush Park, the first of Cox’s targeted neighborhoods just outside downtown, designing a 24-building, 410-unit densification plan. And design is baked into the new planning department goals and regulations. What could be design’s biggest impact is the preservation of existing cultures, which includes the existing building culture, one of the goals for “inclusive recovery.” To prevent the loss of the visual character of the neighborhoods, incentives such as a double density allowance are offered for projects that preserve the existing shell of a building. Layering history in this way will inevitably lead to interesting new adaptive reuses. These building refills are a good metaphor for the new type of gentrification being pioneered here: They redensify the abandoned fabric with useful infill, but do not take away the texture that makes Detroit unique. As part of VolumeOne, Gräbner and Hansen’s private practice, the pair is working on a redevelopment of the historic Stone Soap Building, an historic 1907 factory. The structural concrete frame and brick infill will be preserved, and a minimal, floating addition will be clad in a galvanized metal panel system. The strong visual contrast between old and new will articulate a strategy of respect for the existing structure while implying continuity through the use of industrial materials. Imagining new uses for vacant land will also play a big part in making the future of Detroit, and nature is integral to the next image of the city. There are about 24 square miles of vacant land that are very costly to maintain. In collaboration with developers and designers, the city is programming many experiments in urban agriculture and self-reliant landscapes. The ad-hoc, community-initiated urban farming pioneered by projects such as Oakland Avenue Urban Farm has become a staple of Detroit urbanism and is becoming part of larger, city-led projects as well. Walter Hood Studio’s Rosa Parks Neighborhood Master Plan does not propose any new buildings but rather infills vacant lots with tree nursery gardens that will provide jobs and act as productive landscapes. In the Fitzgerald neighborhood, local developers Fitz Forward have set out to improve 100 vacant houses and 200 vacant lots. The strategy included some 28 community meetings and 50 neighborhood meetings that resulted in creating a park—a connective tissue—for the neighborhood, as well as flowering meadows in vacant lots. Cox sees it as a success in testing the idea of using design to create a place and restore beauty and community. Detroit is not without its issues, of course, but the future looks bright for the city. Its unique problems, such as the over-the-top reliance on the car built into the city’s planning, and its sprawling, vacant lots, could become assets when coupled with its strengths: relatively cheap land, strong communities, diverse leadership, and many cultural artifacts that have survived the dark times. Five years after bankruptcy, it is an exciting time in Detroit, and there is reason to believe it will provoke a new kind of urban revitalization: one in harmony with nature and existing cultures, informed by the urban progress made over the last few decades.
Placeholder Alt Text

A beacon for DIA

Finalists present bold visions for the future of Detroit's museum district
The future of Detroit’s museum district—an area within striking distance of the city’s revitalized downtown that has 12 cultural institutions—received bold ideas and insights into what urban architects and landscape designers would do if given the chance to unite Motown’s Midtown during an all-day series of presentations Wednesday at the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA). The DIA Plaza project hopes to create cultural, community, and city connections between institutions like the classical art museum and its illustrious neighbors, which include the main branch of the Detroit Public Library, Detroit Historical Museum, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African-American History, Wayne State University, and others. Three teams with international and national resumes as well as Detroit partners gave what observers called insightful and innovative pitches Wednesday on how their ideas about mobility, technology and a revived infrastructure around the art museum could unite not only the buildings in the up-and-coming Midtown district but to the city and the region as a whole. The DIA and its local partners will select a winner from the three presentations by spring, officials said. Insiders say the final decision should come before the end of April. The DIA and its partners, including development organization Midtown Detroit Inc., started this process of building a “heart” for the cultural and educational district in spring 2018. The two also hosted a student competition, led by communications and urban-planning students from around Michigan. The winning team from Wayne State University created a vision of a large cultural campus that removed one of the DIA’s existing parking structures and created an open campus with food trucks, a performance stage and additional signage. The three presenters at Wednesday’s event had a few items in common – they suggested narrowing Detroit’s legendary Woodward Avenue to make it more pedestrian friendly, closing off little-used streets to create a cultural campus and developing additional “living rooms” and outdoor installation spaces to bring art outside the walls of the major institutions involved. The initial 44 submissions to the competition RFQ from more than 10 countries and 22 cities were narrowed down to eight firms, each of which presented their ideas to a panel of jurors at a public event at the DIA in June 2018. Each of the three design teams presenting as finalists in the competition include Detroit-area firms as partners. The three design teams and their partners are: Agence Ter, Paris, France, with team partners Akoaki, Detroit; Harley Etienne, University of Michigan; rootoftwo, metro Detroit; and Transsolar | KlimaEngineering, Germany; Mikyoung Kim Design, Boston, with team partners are James Carpenter Design Associates, New York; CDAD, Detroit; Wkshps, New York; Quinn Evans, Detroit; Giffels Webster, Detroit; Tillett Lighting, New York; Cuseum, Boston; Transsolar | KlimaEngineering, Germany; and Schlaich Bergermann & Partners, New York; and TEN x TEN, Minneapolis, with team partners MASS Design Group, Boston; D MET, Detroit; Atelier Ten, New York; Local Projects, New York; HR&A Advisors, New York; Dr. Craig Wilkins, University of Michigan; and Wade Trim, Detroit. Detroiters who attended the event said they appreciated the attention to reforesting the area with more trees and landscaping as well as the connections to Detroit-based artists, who could benefit from the additional performance spaces. However, there were concerns about removing parking in an urban center already struggling with having enough space for cars alongside its relatively new tram system known as the QLINE. “I'm seeing a great deal of investment in branding and design vision but not so great a connection to cultural/community impact,” said Nick Rowley, a local activist who attended Wednesday’s presentations. The actor, voiceover artist and events planner said his much of his favorite proposals came from Agence Ter, which focused on developing projects and installations that centered on Detroit issues, such as how to commemorate the 1967 riot/rebellion, as well as local artists. “I like hearing ‘Biennale’ and ‘Afro-Futurist’ being evoked in the same presentation,” he noted. The judges questioned the three groups for their attention to details like how they would blend walkways with the planned structures, how they proposed to develop the projects over time and whether they had given enough attention to Detroit’s unique artist and resident communities, which all wanted a voice in the final proposal. When asked whether their proposal was too audacious, Anya Sirota, co-founder of Detroit-based architecture and design studio Akoaki, responded by noting, “Detroit deserves an ambitious project,” and that they worked extensively with community groups, artist communities and event planners to learn about the city, how it hosts events and what it needed to attract both suburbanites and urban dwellers to the cultural center.
Placeholder Alt Text

Rails to Trails

Competition opens to redesign Buffalo's old elevated rail line
Across the country, cities are reimagining old industrial landscapes as innovative parklands and restorative ecologies as a way to connect urban dwellers with nature and protect the environment. A new design ideas competition in Buffalo, New York, aims to revitalize the city’s 1.5-mile elevated DL&W rail corridor as a multiuse urban nature trail and greenway. The project is set not only to spur economic development for Buffalo but to reshape the city, becoming a local attraction much like the Toronto’s Bentway or Atlanta’s Beltline. Organized by the Western New York Land Conservancy (WNYLC), the competition invites architects, designers, landscape architect, urban planners, and artists to submit visionary concepts of the corridor as a nature-filled connector for downtown Buffalo, its waterfront, and the surrounding historic neighborhoods. The project is backed by several major sponsors, including M&T Bank and the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr., Legacy Funds, a group that’s part of the late Buffalo Bills owner’s namesake foundation which, just last month, pledged to invest $200 million in both Buffalo and Detroit’s parks and trails systems. The corridor is owned by Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority and has long been a focal point of potential redevelopment for residents and city officials alike. Last year, the WNYLC published a community vision for the site that will guide its future design. “After listening to the community’s hopes for the DL&W corridor, we are excited to give designers from Western New York and around the world a chance to show us how they would bring those hopes to life,” said Nancy Smith, executive director of the WNYLC in a statement. “This spring we will share the designs with the community and ask the community what they think of the ideas, what they like, and what they would do differently.” The competition will be judged by a jury of architects, educators, planners, and consultants including representatives from the University of Buffalo, Stoss Landscape Urbanism, and Friends of the High Line. The proposals will be unveiled online next spring and will also be featured in several public exhibitions in Buffalo. Three winners, including the jury’s favorite as well as the community’s pick, will receive monetary awards ranging from $1,000 to $7,500. To enter the competition, participants must register for free by emailing dlw@wnylc.org. For more information on submission guidelines and the competition brief, see here. An optional site visit for applicants will be held on January 4, 2019, and submissions are due February 15.
Placeholder Alt Text

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.”
Placeholder Alt Text

15 Years of The Architect's Newspaper

A brief history of architecture in the 21st century
To celebrate our 15th anniversary, we looked back through the archives for our favorite moments since we started. We found stories that aged well (and some that didn’t), as well as a wide range of interviews, editorials, and other articles that we feel contributed to the broader conversation. We also took a closer look at the most memorable tributes to those we lost, and heard from editors past and present about their time here. Check out this history of architecture in the 21st century through the headlines of The Architect's Newspaper:

2003

Protest: Michael Sorkin on Ground Zero

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

Crit: AIA Convention (“No more weird architecture in Philadelphia”)
Crit: Spring Street Salt Shed (“In praise of the urban object”)
How institutionalized racism and housing policy segregated our cities
Chinatown residents protest de Blasio rezoning
Roche-Dinkeloo’s Ambassador Grille receives landmark designation
Q&A: Jorge Otero-Pailos: Why the Met Breuer matters
Comment: Ronald Rael on the realities of the U.S.-Mexico border
Detroit Zoo penguin habitat opens
Chicago battles to keep Lucas Museum of Narrative Art from moving
Martino Stierli on the redesign of MoMA’s A+D galleries
WTC Oculus opens
Letter: Phyllis Lambert pleads for Four Seasons preservation
Q&A: Mabel Wilson
#NotmyAIA: Protests erupt over AIA's support of Trump
Snøhetta’s addition to SFMoMA opens
DS+R’s Vagelos Education Center opens
Baltimore’s Brutalist McKeldin Fountain pulverized

2017

Placeholder Alt Text

New Ideas

V. Mitch McEwen is the next curator of IdeasCity
Princeton Professor V. Mitch McEwen has been named the new curator of IdeasCity, a collaborative and creative platform run by the New Museum in New York City that “addresses challenges and opportunities arising in urban reconstruction,” according to the initiative’s website. McEwen will be working on the IdeasCity biennial, leading a platform for designers, artists, technologists, and policymakers to collaborate on ideas and solutions in exploring the future of cities. According to a statement from the New Museum, McEwen “will steer the framework for the 2018-19 cities and launch an open call for cities around the world to apply for the 2020-21 cycle." McEwen is the principal and cofounder of A(n) Office, a Detroit- and New York-based studio that explores topics of architecture and exhibition with partner Marcelo López-Dinard. McEwen received grants from the Graham Foundation, the Knight Foundation, and the New York State Council on the Arts and has exhibited work as part of the U.S. Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale, the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, and the Istanbul Design Biennial. In addition to holding an assistant professorship at Princeton University School of Architecture, McEwen has taught at the University of Michigan, and Columbia Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. McEwen stated, “The New Museum, an institution founded by curators, has consistently advocated for artists as idea leaders. IdeasCity brings that ethos to the streets and a broader public to accelerate the kind of creative knowledge-sharing that opens new possibilities in our everyday lives. There’s a responsibility right now—at this seemingly precarious moment—to not be shy or afraid, but to be bolder than ever and make the most of the connections we have with each other.” McEwen tells AN that she is thrilled to collaborate with the New Museum team to curate the upcoming cycle of IdeasCity, which connects directly to the work she does as a designer and professor of architecture who “engages with the intersection of technology, ecology, urban culture, and spatial politics.” According to Princeton SoA’s website, “McEwen Studio projects in Detroit have produced a series of operations on houses previously owned by the Detroit Land Bank Authority. These include a combined residence and flower incubator for an engineer at 3M, a strategy for 100 houses selected by the City of Detroit to densify the neighborhood of Fitzgerald, and an award-winning repurposing of a balloon-frame house titled House Opera.” McEwen begins the new position this month.
Placeholder Alt Text

Transit City

Metro Detroit still struggling to agree on regional transit plan
Despite the weekly announcement of new developments in Detroit, from stadiums to skyscrapers, the city still faces a number of systemic issues that continue to plague its large population of economically disadvantaged residents. One of these issues, the topic of much-heated debate in recent years, is transit. The 2016 election represented a chance for the entire southeast Michigan region to reinvigorate its mass transit system, but a “no” vote sent planners and citizens back to the drawing board in hopes of a second try in 2018. The Regional Transit Master Plan, put forward by the Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan (RTA), was meant to unify mass transit in the four counties surrounding Detroit with $4.7 billion in new investments, raised from a new tax and available state and federal funds. The RTA was founded in 2012 to successfully achieve this, after nearly half a century of other failed authorities. Going back as far as the 1950s, transit has been strictly divided between the mostly white suburbs and the mostly African American Detroit. And while there are many indications that this was a racial issue when the policy was made, today it has become an economic issue that many believe can no longer be ignored. Detroit’s transportation needs are enigmatic in many ways. The city is in the top ten for least car owners per capita, while it does not even chart in per-capita spending on mass transit. While three in five Detroiters work outside of the city, often in low-paying jobs, three in four jobs in the city are filled by workers from the suburbs. This means that Detroit has one of the longest average commuting distances in the country, a bit over ten miles. Many areas of the city don’t have nearly enough jobs, some as low as 100 positions per 1,000 residents. All of this together means that the economies of the suburbs and the city are inextricably linked; reliable mass transit would be an undeniable asset. The Regional Transit Master Plan was designed specifically to address these disparities and provide more comprehensive service to the entire region. Regional bus rapid transit (BRT) routes would run from the suburbs to the city center, new routes would be developed in currently underserved areas, and a regional light rail would stretch from Detroit to Ann Arbor. One of the major aspects of the plan, which was also one of the most debated, was that it would no longer allow individual suburbs to opt out of the transit system. Currently 50 suburbs have no mass transit system, as they have opt- ed out of the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART). This is cited as being one of the main reasons for service gaps in outlying areas. Another is- sue facing opposition was the funding model, which included a new tax that would cost most taxpayers approximately $95 per year over the next 20 years. When the plan came up for vote in the November 2016 election, it was rejected by roughly 20,000 votes, losing 49.5 percent to 50.5 percent. The measure was approved in two of the counties, and came close in a third. Alone, the fourth, Macomb County, was able to sway the outcome. One year on, the RTA is still trying to figure out a path forward with the possibility of another proposal in 2018. Not waiting for that possibility, the suburban transit system, SMART, is launching its own extended BRT system to provide greater links to the city. Detroit has made recent transit headway also. The QLine, a new streetcar that was in the works before the regional plan and which relies partially on private funding, opened in 2017. Currently, discussions have started within the RTA concerning a new proposal. Early ideas have included reducing the area the authority is responsible for. The RTA has noted that roughly 28 percent of the “no” votes in the election came from more rural areas that would be less directly affected by a regional transit system. As the RTA was specifically established to build a regional transit system, enacting a plan is more than just a goal; it is do-or-die for the organization. If no plan is pushed forward, many fear the RTA will go the way of the numerous other regional planning authorities before it. While Detroit’s transit situation may be singular in its dire position, it is not the only metropolitan area that has seen a renewed interest in comprehensive mass transit. This was highlighted in the rush of dozens of cities to bid for Amazon HQ2. In Amazon’s request for proposals, it specifically stated that it was looking for a city with efficient, reliable mass transit. While this did not stop cities like Detroit from apply- ing, many will likely point to it as a reason Detroit will not get the call from Amazon. Even cities like Chicago, with well-established, well-funded mass transit, are looking to the near future for improvements. The 2018–2023 Regional Transit Strategic Plan, put forward by the Regional Transit Authority of the Chicago area, just finished an initial round of public input, and the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning is working on the On to 2050 plan, which includes extensive regional transit guidance. Chicago also happens to be a contender for the Amazon HQ2 project, and transit has been one of its major selling points. The path ahead of the Detroit metropolitan area’s transit future is currently very unclear. Even when suburban and urban agencies were able to come together behind a comprehensive plan, their constituencies thwarted them. While the city itself has enjoyed a recent spotlight surrounding new development, particularly in its downtown, any Detroiter will tell you that the city has a long way to go to match its prosperous past. Many hope that effective transit will also help bring economic opportunity to the many who have never had it.
Placeholder Alt Text

In Memoriam

Who we lost in 2017
2017 may have had its peaks and valleys (to be honest, more than its fair share of valleys), but all felt the loss of revered figures throughout the design world this year. Below we pause to remember these notable people and their contributions to design, criticism and pedagogy. (See the rest of our Year in Review 2017 articles here) James Ackerman Born November 8, 1919, James Ackerman was a prolific architectural historian and scholar of the Italian Renaissance. In 1969, Ackerman became a Slade Professor at Cambridge University; The Slade Professorship of Fine Art is the oldest professorship of art at the universities of Cambridge, Oxford, and London. Ackerman passed away December 31, 2016, at the age of 97.     Christopher Gray Architecture writer, historian and longtime author of the New York Times Streetscape column Christopher Gray passed away at age 66 in March. Gray was a voluminous writer, having published over 1,450 columns between 1987 and 2014. His wry humor and sly observations, coupled with a habit to pick up on stories that others might overlook, all contributed to a wide readership.     Hugh Hardy A fixture of the New York City landscape, architect Hugh Hardy’s impact was felt by nearly every major theater in the city. Born July 26, 1932, Hardy worked on projects ranging from Radio City Music Hall to the Brooklyn Academy of Music, as well as the Windows on the World restaurant inside of the World Trade Center. Theaters nationwide dimmed their lights after Hardy’s death on March 15th.     Vito Acconci Conceptual artist and architect Vito Acconci passed away earlier this year at the age of 77. The Bronx-born, Brooklyn-raised artist is most well known in the architectural world for designing the Storefront for Art and Architecture in Manhattan with Steven Holl, as well as teaching architecture at Pratt. Acconci leaves behind decades of breakthrough performance art, and Acconci Studio in Brooklyn.     Diane Lewis Diane Lewis, the first woman architect appointed to the Cooper Union’s full-time faculty, died on May 2nd at age 66. Lewis, winner of the 1976 Rome Architecture Prize in Architecture and the 2008 Smithsonian Cooper Hewitt National Design Award, also served on many faculties around the world and was an integral part of New York’s contemporary design scene.     Robert Kliment A cofounder of the award-winning Kliment Halsband Architects with his wife Frances, Robert Kliment passed away June 3rd of this year at the age of 84.  Kliment was also a faculty member at Columbia University and the University of Pennsylvania. Known for work that was both thoughtful and humanistic, Kliment was the principal designer on several well-known institutional and educational buildings.     Hilary Ballon Hillary Ballon, a professor of Urban Studies and Architecture at NYU, passed away on June 16 of this year at age 61. Ballon was a prolific author and curator, having written several recognized books on how urban planning relates to social, political, and economic forces.     Branden Klayko Committed urbanist, journalist, and former senior editor for The Architect’s Newspaper (AN), Branden Klayko passed away in June at age 33. An instrumental part of AN’s founding, Klayko used his writing to advocate for sensible urban solutions that took the whole streetscape, and the public’s interaction with it, into account.     Peter Pran Norwegian architect Peter Pran passed away at age 81 on July 5th of this year. Known for bringing modernist ideas to larger corporate firms, Pran was an extremely productive designer with projects realized on nearly every continent. He had previously held positions at Ellerbe Becket, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), and NBBJ, and was a co-founder and partner of Peter Pran + H Architects in New York City.     Gunnar Birkerts Latvian-American architect Gunnar Birkerts passed away at the age of 92 on August 15th, just as the place of his 40-year career in the architectural canon was being reevaluated. An ardent modernist and individualist, Birkerts’ usage of experimental materials and attention to space planning were well-served in Detroit, where he could work without compromising on his unique style.     Fred Koetter Avowed urbanist, teacher, critic and former Dean of the Yale School of Architecture Fred Koetter passed away at the age of 79 on August 21. During his tenure as Dean, Koetter established the school’s Rome summer program and Yale Urban Design Workshop, and continued to win acclaim for projects realized through his professional firm of Koetter Kim & Associates, co-founded with Susie Kim.     Albert Speer, Jr. Prominent German architect Albert Speer, Jr., who spent much of his life trying to get out of the shadow of his Nazi father, Speer, Sr., passed away one September 15th at the age of 83. A renowned urban planner whose progressive approach focused on human-scale projects, Speer’s firm, Albert Speer + Partner, made successful bids in recent years for larger projects such as the 2022 Qatar FIFA World Cup.     David Marks David Marks, whose Millennium Wheel has made a lasting impact on London’s skyline, passed away at the age of 64 on October 5th. The Swedish designer was a graduate of the Architectural Association School (AA) and known particularly for his fondness of elevated views. He designed and built several elevated viewing platforms in England, as well as having recently proposed a gondola system for Chicago.     Albert C. Ledner Modernist Albert C. Ledner, whose nautical-themed designs changed both New Orleans and New York, died on November 14th at the age of 93. Despite spending much of his career outside of the mainstream, his work won recognition in recent years owing to its playful, sometimes seemingly esoteric qualities.     Vincent Scully Distinguished architectural historian Vincent Scully, a Yale professor for over six decades, passed away on November 30th at the age of 97. Scully was a champion of American architecture and design, and his teaching and written works affected generations of architects and critics. Other than teaching, Scully was a productive author with 20 books to his name, focusing on everything from Greek sacred architecture to Frank Lloyd Wright.     Ivan Chermayeff Founding titan of modern graphic design Ivan Chermayeff passed away at age 85 on December 3rd. The long-lasting legacy of his award-winning firm, Chermayeff & Geismar, can be felt in the dozens of logos they designed, from NBC’s peacock, to the National Geographic and PBS logos. Besides for-profit projects, Chermayeff was also involved with creating the identities of non-profits ranging from the MoMa to the Library of Congress.