Posts tagged with "Detroit":

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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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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.”
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Detroit’s Lafayette Park to get five new developments

Twelve-hundred new residential units and a variety of commercial and retail offerings are slated for Detroit’s Lafayette Park neighborhood, the Detroit Free Press reports. Delivered within five separate projects, the developments will capitalize primarily on the use of vacant land in the neighborhood, but will also require the demolition of a former Quaker school and Shapero Hall, the previous home of Wayne State University’s pharmacy school. Known for its superblock residential buildings, Lafayette Park is the home of the Lafayette Park National Historic Landmark District, a 78-acre complex anchored by the work of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and landscape architect Alfred Caldwell, lead by Chicago developer Harold Greenwald and planner Ludwig Hilberseimer. Completed in 1967, the three high-rise towers, twenty-one low-rise townhouses, elementary school and retail block represented a new approach in midcentury American architecture, one that used residential density to leverage open space. The site was anchored by the 13-acre Lafayette Plaisance as well as a number of semi-private and private outdoor spaces for residents. Open space in the neighborhood was increased in 2009 when a below-grade rail line on the east side of Lafayette Park was transformed into a linear greenway. The original Dequindre Cut’s 1.2 miles were augmented in 2016 with an additional half mile. Each of the five projects are spearheaded by a separate development company and projected to fit alongside the existing built fabric of the neighborhood. Following an overall trend in new residential construction in Detroit, over half of the proposed units are studios or one-bedroom apartments. While the projects are currently in varying stages of design, three out of the five are projected to be mixed-use, with one including a small-format Meijer grocery store, the third of its kind in Detroit. The first of the five projects, Pullman Parc, will break ground in late 2018. Other developments include Above the Cut, a 160 to 180 unit residential building with flexible commercial space along the Dequindre Cut, with approximately 35 units slated to be affordable housing. A mixed-use development connecting Lafayette Park to neighboring Eastern Market will offer multiple blocks of residential and retail space. A new superblock development, Lafayette West, will offer 374 residential units.  The Meijer store is a component of a plan to deliver a total of 213 residential units.
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ASH NYC makes Detroit’s Wurlitzer Building sing again

The Siren Hotel 1509 Broadway Street Detroit Tel: 313-277-4736 Designer: ASH NYC After thirty-five years of vacancy and deterioration, Detroit’s Wurlitzer Building is making sweet music in Motown again. The Siren Hotel, recently opened inside the svelte historic terra-cotta building, is the work of ASH NYC, a firm premised on bridging the worlds of interior design and property development. ASH NYC simultaneously acts as designer, developer, owner, and operator of the hotel, and, with assistance from Quinn Evans Architects (QEA), has restored many of the building’s 1926 features, including travertine floors and plaster ceilings. Each of The Siren’s 106 guest rooms features items designed and fabricated by ASH NYC, as well as custom woven blankets by Cranbrook Academy of Art graduate students. The former home of pianos, jukeboxes, and organs boasts six distinctive food and beverage outlets, including Albena, an eight-seat chef’s counter with James Beard nominee Garrett Lipar offering a tasting menu inspired by the Great Lakes, and Sid Gold’s Request Room, a piano karaoke bar. The interior of Candy Bar, the hotel’s opulent cocktail lounge, evokes the sweet pink beaded gowns worn by The Supremes.
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T+E+A+M simulates natural processes to make spectacularly synthetic materials

Wrangling with the issues of pollution and industrial waste, Ann Arbor, Michigan–based collective T+E+A+M is pushing forward with innovative approaches to appropriating and reinterpreting the industrial relics of America’s Rust Belt. T+E+A+M draws upon the postindustrial landscape—often Detroit—as a source of inspiration, places where disused materials are salvaged, recast, and used as architectural tools and standalone structures. Based out of the University of Michigan’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, T+E+A+M is a collaboration between architects Thom Moran, Ellie Abrons, Adam Fure, and Meredith Miller. Miller and Moran are developing an innovative construction material they call “Post Rock.” Post Rock is a lab-made re-creation of the naturally occurring plastiglomerate—a relatively new geological substance composed of discarded plastic, sedimentary granules, and other debris. The team simulates this process and speculates how to build architectural forms from the agglomerated matter. The inherent durability of petrochemical polymers and sedimentary products strengthens the case for their use in construction. Post Rock consists of a mix of polymer and inorganic sources. The recycled product is formed either "in situ" where the materials are stacked and thermocast, or as “clastic,” which derives its cylindrical shape from rotational thermoforming conducted in the lab. Through three speculative design projects envisioned with digital rendering, Miller and Moran have upscaled their Post Rock prototypes into architectural works. Three categories—Urban Beach, Agribusiness, and Suburban Domestic—are composed of three distinct mixes of polymers and inorganic sources. Unveiled at the 2017 Designing Material Innovation Exhibition at California College of the Arts, the Clastic Order is a “new architectural order” fabricated from stacked and thermocast Post Rock. By casting the recycled material to create monolithic columns, T+E+A+M utilizes a process similar to a slipforming technique that entails the constant pouring of materials, creating new layers of structure. T+E+A+M described this casting process as one “based on material behavior under heat and gravity,” allowing for each monolith to possess multiple physical characteristics reflecting the ratios of components, colors, and textures found in each cast. The utility of the Clastic Order as a construction technology is yet to be fully tested. However, Moran hopes that it could be strengthened to fully merge the compositional with the decorative and structural in the spirit of the Roman arch. He views their approach as a radical solution that envisions remanufactured waste products as a tappable and nearly unlimited resource of “building material similar to iron and concrete.” T+E+A+M has ongoing projects, such as Clastic Order, that demonstrate promising decorative and structural uses of these refashioned industrial leftovers. They are currently researching the potential scaling-up of their techniques, and the development of a patent covering the use of their plastic-based materials as a form of facade and interior cladding. Moran acknowledged that while these approaches are wholly plausible, they will require testing and research.
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Architectural League announces winners of 2018 prize for Young Architects + Designers

The Architectural League of New York has announced the winners of its 37th annual Architectural League Prize for Young Architects + Designers, meant to highlight and foster up-and-coming architectural and design talent. This year’s theme, Objective, asked entrants to examine the role of objectivity in today’s society when the notion is simultaneously elevated as well as undermined by technology, science, and politics. If we truly do live in a post-truth world, what does objectivity mean for architecture? The 2018 winners, decided through a portfolio competition, are as follows: Anya Sirota of Akoaki, Detroit Akoaki was cofounded by Sirota and Jean Louis Farges in 2008. The Detroit-based architecture and design studio explores reviving urban spaces in their home city through the use of eye-catching temporary installations that encourage public participation. Some of their more otherworldly designs include a frost generator and a trompe l’oeil “red carpet” in Los Angeles. Sirota is an assistant professor of architecture at the University of Michigan’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning. Bryony Roberts of Bryony Roberts Studio, New York Bryony Roberts is a New York-based research and design firm founded in 2011 that actively combines, art, architecture, and preservation. Bryony Roberts actively works to reinvigorate historical places with new life, and the firm has worked on everything from a series of marble tile studies to choreographing dancers in Rome. Roberts herself is an adjunct professor of architecture and preservation at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation. Gabriel Cuéllar and Athar Mufreh of Cadaster, Brooklyn The Brooklyn-based Cadaster, founded in 2016 by Cuéllar and Mufreh, is an architecture studio whose work explores the cross-section between architecture and territory. Their most recent work includes the research project Subversive Real Estate: The Landholding Patterns of American Black Churches, and Upstate Ecologies: Regional Vision for the New York Canal System, the firm’s entry into the international planning competition for the future of New York State’s canal systems. Coryn Kempster of Julia Jamrozik and Coryn Kempster, Buffalo Julia Jamrozik and Coryn Kempster, cofounded by Kempster and Julia Jamrozik in 2014, focuses on the roles that experience and memory play in architecture. The Buffalo-based firm has built abstract play fields and super-efficient single family homes, but the same attention to detail and user interaction is found throughout their portfolio. Kempster is an adjunct assistant professor of architecture at the State University of New York at Buffalo. Alison Von Glinow and Lap Chi Kwong of Kwong Von Glinow, Chicago Kwong Von Glinow was founded in 2017 by Von Glinow and Kwong and operates out of Chicago. While still young, the architecture studio has already won plenty of recognition for its radical reinterpretation of forms, including its plans for a modular apartment tower in New York and community-centered apartment high-rises in Hong Kong. Kwong teaches as an adjunct professor of architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology, and Von Glinow is a part-time professor of architecture at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Dan Spiegel of SAW // Spiegel Aihara Workshop, San Francisco SAW // Spiegel Aihara Workshop, co-founded in 2011 by Spiegel and Megumi Aihara, works at the intersection between architecture and urban design. Their portfolio spans everything from the front desk of the Casper office to a try-on truck for lingerie startup True & Co. SAW was also recently recognized with an AN 2017 Best of Design Awards for Young Architects. Spiegel currently teaches at the University of California, Berkeley, and California College of the Arts. The jury for this year’s prize was composed of 2018 Young Architects + Designers Committee, as well as Tatiana Bilbao, Jorge Otero-Pailos, Georgeen Theodore, and Claire Weisz. From June 21 through August 4, an exhibition featuring an installation from each of the winners will be installed at the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center at the Parsons School of Design / The New School, Arnold and Sheila Aronson Galleries, 66 Fifth Avenue. On June 21 at 7:00 PM, Gabriel Cuéllar and Athar Mufreh, Coryn Kempster, and Bryony Roberts will be giving lectures in the exhibition space. On June 22 at 7:00 PM, Alison Von Glinow and Lap Chi Kwong, Anya Sirota, and Dan Spiegel will be giving their lectures in the same location. The Architectural League has also announced the publication of Young Architects 18: (im)permanence, a collection of projects from the 2016 League Prize Winners.
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Cranbrook is gifted Frank Lloyd Wright’s Usonian Smith House

Already the home of work by Eliel Saarinen, Albert Kahn and Stephen Holl, Metro Detroit’s Cranbrook has acquired the Melvyn Maxwell and Sarah Stein Smith House, a 1950 Usonian home in Bloomfield Hills designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for two Detroit public school teachers. The home comes to Cranbrook via a donation from the Towbes Foundation and provides the institution with ownership of the Smith House as an educational resource. The Smith house has been preserved exactly as it was when the Smiths lived in it. While studying at the City College of Detroit, now Wayne State University, Melvyn Maxwell Smith saw an image of Fallingwater during a slide presentation and was instantly hooked on Wright. With equal financial backing from his wife Sarah Stein Smith, the couple travelled to Taliesin, where they asked Wright to design a home for $5,000. Wright negotiated $8,000 and waited for the couple to save up to purchase a suitable piece of property. Deeply occupied by his work on the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, Wright communicated regularly with the Smiths once he delivered the design for the home and urged Melvyn Maxwell Smith to work as his own general contractor to keep costs down, and one that would allow Smith to control the quality of work. Smith gathered a team of contractors, journeymen and friends to work on the house, including those that agreed to work for a reduced rate in exchange for the privilege of being a part of the project. With the Smiths paying as they went, construction moved slowly. As the house was nearing completion, the Smiths found themselves without funds to purchase the windows. Real estate investor Al Taubman, another FLW super fan, found himself visiting the construction site just as Melvyn Maxwell Smith was boarding up the window openings with plywood. After listening to Smith lament that he was down to his last $500, and worrying that inclement weather would damage the house, Taubman had installers from the Pittsburg Plate Glass Window Company arrive the next day to measure and install the windows and sent the Smiths a bill for exactly $500. Over time, the Smiths filled the house with sculptures and designed objects by artists associated with Cranbrook. Melvyn Maxwell Smith lived in the house until his death in 1984. Sarah Stein Smith stayed until moving to California in 1991. The Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research is responsible for stewarding the Smith House and is also undertaking an oral history project to collect stories from artists and contractors that worked on the project.
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Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, David Adjaye selected to design Detroit’s West Riverfront Park

Beating out a pool of over 80 international design teams, a team with Brooklyn-based landscape architects Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA) and Sir David Adjaye have been chosen to transform the 22-acre West Riverfront Park in downtown Detroit. While the nonprofit Detroit RiverFront Conservancy has stressed that they were choosing a team, not a design, MVVA’s presented plan for the park would substantially change the waterfront. While the final four competitors for the park presented big names in landscape architecture, including James Corner Field Operations, Hood Design Studio and Diller Scofidio + Renfro, and Gustafson Guthrie Nichol, the diverse programming proposed by MVVA ultimately won out. The $50-million redevelopment will present all-ages options throughout the shore, including the carving out of a beach inside of a secluded cove. Now that the design team has been chosen, the MVVA-led team and Detroit RiverFront Conservancy will solicit input from the community to nail down the final design details. The Detroit RiverFront Conservancy will also fundraise to reach the rest of the $50 million goal in the meantime, meaning the construction and completion date for the project are uncertain at the time of writing. MVVA’s design for the riverfront park mixes active uses with more passive recreational areas and mingles the park’s natural systems with the city grid, similar to firm’s approach at Brooklyn Bridge Park. On the western side of the park, there will be a pool house and built up “performance hill,” complete with a clamshell-shaped amphitheater that will sit on a pier in the river. The circular “Sport House” will go up to the east, which from the renderings looks like it will float above a basketball court and feature a green roof on top. Moving east, a tall, artificial bluff will surround the park house and picnic grove. Perhaps the most prominent feature in the proposal is the aforementioned beach at the park’s center, which will be hemmed in by a stone jetty to the west and a fishing pier to the east, likely to prevent erosion. MVVA’s renderings show kayakers and beach-goers relaxing in the summer and skating on the frozen river in the winter, part of the Conservancy's vision for an all-year-round park. Capping off the eastern edge of the park is the enormous “Great Lakes Play Garden” for children, and “Evergreen Isle.” The stone island sits parallel to the playground in the river and is designed to break up ice floes and anchor ecological improvements by creating a shallow, biologically diverse channel. The shore of the entire park will be bounded by the Detroit Riverwalk. “It was love at first sight when I saw the Detroit River,” said Michael Van Valkenburgh in a press release. “I immediately recognized that this new park could draw the city to the water’s edge.” West Riverfront Park is bounded by Rosa Parks Boulevard to the west and Eighth Street to the east, a stretch that had been in private hands for nearly 100 years before the Conservancy purchased it in 2014. A $345,000 grant from the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation’s “Livable Communities” focus area financed the West Riverfront Park Design Competition. MVVA’s team for the project, besides David Adjaye, will also include Utile and Mobility in Chain, and local partners LimnoTech (Ann Arbor), PEA (Detroit) and NTH Consultants (Northville).
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Ford may redevelop Detroit’s abandoned Michigan Central Station

Michigan Central Station, a hulking ruin, is a 230-foot-tall symbol of urban decline a stone's throw away from Downtown Detroit. Now, though, Ford Motor Company is in talks to buy the abandoned station from its owners, the Moroun family. As soon as April, the Dearborn, Michigan–based automaker could ink a deal that would transform the 500,000-square-foot train station in the city's Corktown neighborhood into—well, it's not really clear at this time.  In the past, Ford leadership said that expanding their workforce in Detroit, historically a home base for the company, is part of a strategy to attract and retain younger talent, many of whom want to live in cities. The news comes as Ford is moving around 200 workers to a facility down the street; those familiar with the just-announced deal say 1,000 or more workers could fit inside a transformed Michigan Central Station. "At this time, Ford is focused on locating our autonomous vehicle and electric vehicle business and strategy teams, including Team Edison, to The Factory in Detroit’s historic Corktown neighborhood," Ford spokesman Said Deep told Crain's, which first reported the story. "While we anticipate our presence over time will grow as our (autonomous/electric vehicle) teams begin moving downtown in May, we have nothing further to announce at this time." Amtrak stopped running trains through the station in 1988, and since then, the Michigan Avenue building has served as a low-hanging symbol of Detroit's deindustrialization. Alongside countless ruins tourists on Flickr, artists like Camilo José Vergara and Andrew Moore have extensively documented the decline of the station and the surrounding city. Recently, though, the Moroun family has brought the space back to life, somewhat. Last summer, they opened the building to a Crain's-produced event for investors interested in the city, and they've spent $8 million on window replacement and structural upgrades in the past three years. If Ford drives the station deal home, it would not be the automaker's only major investment in its Michigan physical assets. Ford is in the midst of a ten-year, $1.2-billion overhaul of its neighboring Dearborn campus, with the help of architects at SmithGroupJJR.

Critical Needs in Planning the ‘Good City’: Lessons From Detroit

Professor June Manning Thomas will give a lecture, Critical Needs In Planning the 'Good City,' in honor of her recognition as the Mary Frances Berry Distinguished University Professor of Urban Planning. A reception will follow in the Rackham Building Assembly Hall. Mary Frances Berry Distinguished University Professor of Urban Planning Centennial Professor of Urban and Regional Planning June Manning Thomas will give the Mary Frances Berry Distinguished University of Michigan Professor of Urban Planning Lecture at Taubman College. As one of nine faculty members university-wide to receive this top faculty honor this year, Thomas is also the first faculty member at Taubman College to receive this prestigious designation. Thomas is a pre-eminent scholar on how racial inequality and disunity have affected the planning, evolution, and redevelopment of cities and their neighborhoods. Her work focuses on economically distressed central cities, addressing issues of planning theory and socialjustice. Her co-edited book Urban Planning and the African American Community: In the Shadows is a path-breaking exploration of key connections between racial injustice and urban planning. Redevelopment and Race: Planning a Finer City in Postwar Detroit won the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning’s Paul Davidoff Award for urban planning books published in in the area of social justice. She has written or co-edited three additional books related to race and poverty in Detroit and in other depopulated cities in the Midwest as well as dozens of book chapters and articles in scholarly journals. She also has written policy reports for the city of Detroit and the state of Michigan. Her recent research explores community development in Detroit and the 1960s civil rights movement in Orangeburg, South Carolina, where she helped integrate the local high school. Her research has been widely recognized by numerous academic awards including her election as a Fellow of the American Institute of Certified Planners. She is a prominent and highly effective national advocate for diversity and inclusion of under-represented faculty and students in urban planning academic programs. In 2013 she was named president of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning, where she encouraged greater racial diversity in the nation’s urban planning schools.
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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.
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Detroit’s historic National Theatre to be scrapped for $800 million development

On December 26, commercial developers Bedrock Detroit released conceptual drawings for its proposed incorporation of Albert Kahn's decaying and vacant National Theatre into their $800 million Monroe Blocks redevelopment. According to The Detroit News, the project would add a 35-story office tower and four mixed-use buildings within the city center. Kahn designed the Moorish Revival-Beaux Arts hybrid National Theatre in 1911, but the structure was abandoned in 1975. While the building has been allowed to decay, it remains the last in Detroit’s historic theatre district. The ongoing struggle to reverse Detroit’s economic fortunes has led to an increasing appreciation of historic structures within the city, as demonstrated by the ongoing restoration work of the Shinola Hotel, and the Albert Khan and Fisher Buildings. A critical asset behind Detroit’s renewal is the preservation of its architectural past. Although the development of unused land within the city center has few opponents, Detroit News reports that only the white-glazed terra-cotta facade and gold-domed towers of the National Theatre building will be preserved by Bedrock Detroit. This leaves the rest of the theatre space subject to demolition. Additionally, the facade will be dismantled piece by piece while undergoing restoration, and will subsequently be returned to a location within the Bedrock’s redevelopment scheme. While Preservation Detroit has voiced support for the Monroe Blocks redevelopment, the organization has expressed concern that only saving the facade compromises the district’s history and  removes an opportunity to restore the existing building within the development. Bedrock is presently involved in a number of ambitious projects in Detroit, such as the restoration of the iconic Book Building and the development of SHoP Architects-designed 1206 Woodward Avenue. For now, the restored facade of the National Theatre will only serve as a pedestrian portal for the upcoming project.