Posts tagged with "Detroit":

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QUICK CLICKS> Highway, High Speed, Detroit, Heated Sidewalks and Ikea

Vancouver Chooses Their Way Over Highway. Vancouver officials are considering permanently closing two viaduct bridges after temporary closures for the 2010 Olympics went smoothly. The city is the latest to join a growing number of places proposing highway removal, including Seattle where the debate is heating up.

High Speed Rail to Slow Down. The government didn't shut down, but President Obama signed off on a $1.5 billion cut to high speed rail to reach a budget deal. High speed rail has been a top transportation priority for the administration, which had been funded at $2.5 billion per year. Are US Cities Like Detroit Really Dying? The short answer is no. An infographic at Fast Company Design looks at migration in Detroit and finds that there's been an influx of residents in the city's core, surrounded by decline. John Pavlus writes, "The undeniable truth is that downtown is flashing the signs of a comeback." Keeping Things Hot. The city of Holland, Michigan heats its sidewalks with waste heat diverted from a local power plant. The system eliminates the need for shoveling and keeping downtown lively all-year round. Fits? Alan Penn, professor of architecture at University College London, suggests that IKEA deliberately designs its stores to be confusing to encourage impulse buying.
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Quick Clicks> Carchitecture, Cats, Litter, Blight

[ Quick Clicks> A guided tour of interesting links from across the web. And beyond. ] Carchitecture. What happens when you hire Herzog & de Meuron to design your parking garage? People suddenly begin to push out the cars. That seems to be the case in Miami Beach according to a NY Times article on the upscale soirees and and tourists that have become common place in the uncommon structure. Cats on Broadway. No, it's not a return of Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical, but a proposal to add a little theatrics to Chicago's Broadway. Curbed reports that the proposal is part of an IIT thesis project calling for a pedestrian-oriented street complete with a statue of a giant waving car (or more properly, a Maneki Neko). Please Litter. Could the latest trend in snail mail be a pro-littering campaign? According to TreeHugger, Google has embedded seeds in paper (recycled, of course) for a recent mailer. The letter advises its recipient to "plant in a sunny spot with a thin layer of soil... and watch it grow." Abandonment. Detroit has become infamous for its ruins, and ruins can be oh so seductive, but Noreen Malone at The New Republic says it's time to end our infatuation with "ruin porn." Malone takes aim at the message a deserted photograph devoid of people sends when Detroit's abandoned are left out of the abandonment. [ Photo credit: joevare/flickr. ]
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Swamps Emerging on the Urban Landscape

While bringing nature back into the city is generally heralded as a sign of improvement, this is hardly the best path to that end.  Next American City's Willy Staley recently took a walk through Detroit's East Side with vacant property guru Sam Butler to surmise the problems of abandonment facing the city. Detroit, seeking to demolish some 3,000 structures, has long been at the center of a movement to "shrink" cities suffering from population loss and blight. While demolishing a house seems fairly straightforward, Staley reveals that the process is encumbered by asbestos abatement and (to his surprise and mine) basement removal:
In fact, when deconstruction contractors get lazy or are rushed, Sam told me, they just push dirt into the basement instead of digging the concrete out, which can create a feature of urban ecology that is (hopefully) unique to Detroit: the urban swamp. Sam directed me to the corner of Kitchener and Essex streets, on Detroit’s East Side, where there is now a mini-swamp or bog, roughly the contour of a basement to a house that no longer exists. Cattails and other weeds grow about head-high, out of mud so sticky that I had to ditch my Vans for the remainder of the trip.
Such a phenomenon carries obvious pitfalls for the surrounding community, essentially replacing one form of blight with another, but also offers fascinating insights into the nature of the city as, well, a natural place. [ Via: Next American City; photo: Clark Mizono. ]

Building from Ruin

Catie Newell: Salvaged Landscape from Imagination Station on Vimeo.

Architectural designer Catie Newell is one of the many artists, architects, and designers that is using the landscape of Detroit as a field of study and its abandoned structures as raw material for building. In her latest installation, Salvaged Landscape, she uses the charred debris of a house, located across the street from the iconic ruined Central Station, to create a new series of walls and passage ways, animated by points of light streaming through gaps in the irregular forms.
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Day to Night, Illuminating Darkened Detroit

Architectural lighting is a great way to bring a bit of life to unused buildings. A new program in Detroit aims to cast some of the city's many empty structures in a better light, in an effort to "mothball" them for future use. The architects at McIntosh Poris Associates have an innovative plan to re-light the four buildings without generating carbon emissions, a plan they hope to expand across downtown. Commissioned by the Detroit Downtown Development Authority, the project will light the interior and exteriors with power generated from rooftop photovoltaics. In addition to improving the appearance of the buildings, the green lighting scheme will also improve pedestrian safety. It's a small, smart step for Detroit. The city is down, but soon it's lights won't be out.

Detroit Plants Seeds for Innercity Entrepeneurs

Forget school-top farms for privileged Manhattan children. You want something truly radical? How about taking over abandoned lots in Detroit so poor single mothers can make a living growing organic produce. That is in part the focus of Grown in Detroit, a new documentary about how the Motor City, on both the large and small scale, is trying to become the manure city. The film is currently screening at a few locations in town as part of the Detroit Windsor International Film Festival. For those of us not in the shrinking city, though, there's an ingenious option to stream the doc on its website, albeit on a pay-what-you-will basis, which is almost as clever as the idea to turn Detroit into one giant, happy farm.
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Detroit Harkens

Last week, we reported on a new, rather unprecedented plan by new-ish Detroit Mayor Dave Bing to condense the city to fit its current population, which is half what it was six decades ago. Among the people we interviewed was local AIA President Raymond Cekauskas, a huge Detroit booster who sent along the picture above, a reminder of the city's "grand past," as Cekauskas put it. But it is also a fitting image of what the city could very well become under Bing's plan, still in its chrysalis—a little smaller, tightly knit, transit-oriented (yes, transit is coming to the Motor City), in a word, homey, which we mean in a good way. Just look at all the gorgeous homes wanting for salvation. Meanwhile, a Tufts professor looks to Flint and Youngstown for similar shrinking models, though by no means on the same scale. Welcome to the Brave New Midwest.
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Leading the Charge

In an effort to contain costs and regain some control of the Motor City's destiny, this month Detroit Mayor Dave Bing will announce the details of a plan to clear largely abandoned sections of the city and reinvigorate more stable neighborhoods. Signaling the importance of this controlled shrinkage plan, Time is reporting that Detroit has hired Newark's urban planning director Toni Griffin to lead the effort. Griffin is one of the best known planners in the country, and she's been working to reestablish planning principles and guide renewal in New Jersey's largest city. A graduate of the Harvard GSD, prior to her time in Newark, she worked for SOM Chicago and for Washington D.C.'s planning department. In Detroit, Griffin's salary, as well as those of some of her staff, will be underwritten by the Kresge Foundation. Her job will no doubt be a difficult one. Residents have previously fought neighbhorhood clearance and scuttled earlier shrinkage plans.
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Disappearing Detroit

The plight of Detroit is a subject of endless fascination for architects and planners and has been irresistible to photographers. Still, the scale of the city’s problems retains the ability to shock. According to the Detroit Free Press, the city is moving to bulldoze between 2500 to 3000 abandoned homes this year—a fraction of the more than 10,000 homes considered dangerous and slated for demolition. Given the fact that it costs approximately $10,000 to demolish a house, the 2500 figure is all the finacially strapped city can afford to take down. Council President Pro Tem Gary is pushing to reduce the eight to nine month lag time it takes for the utility companies to shut off electric, gas, and water going at the houses. The federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program is providing most of the funding for the demolitions.
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The Alfa Architect is Back!

Alfa Romeos Giulietta Spider.Alfa Romeo's Giulietta Spider.
Buried deep in a New York Times article on Fiat’s proposed alliance with sad old Chrysler is a detail that will make many architects happy. As part of the deal, Chrysler will build small cars for the American market, like the Cinquecento-styled Fiat 500. But more to the design point, Chrysler will also start building Alfa Romeos for the domestic market. As it has long been the favorite of architects—from the Italian Futurists to Craig Hodgetts—let’s hope the design of the new Alfas remains in Italy with Bertone and Pininfarina. And not in Detroit.