This past month, architect-turned-artist Phillip K. Smith III revived the 100-foot-long walkway that links two of Detroit’s most celebrated skyscrapers with a dynamic light installation. Wedged between the Guardian Building and One Woodward Avenue, the suspended passageway was built in the 1970s to allow employees of the American Natural Resources Company and Michigan Consolidated Gas Company to pass freely between the two office buildings without interference from inner-city traffic and congestion. When one of the companies relocated in the 1990s, however, the bulky walkway was abandoned. Fortunately, the sky bridge has now been revitalized with a permanent installation by the California designer known for his extravagant, light-based, and Coachella-esque works of art. Phillip K. Smith III has completely transformed the neglected passageway into a vibrant, floating bar of light that electrifies the streets of downtown Detroit. “Detroit Skybridge is another example of how underutilized spaces can be reimagined for the benefit of the public,” said the owner of Library Street Collective, the art organization that conceptualized the project. “Phillip’s use of light and color, along with his understanding of architecture and scale, makes this a compelling project for the city.” Smith drew inspiration from the geometric white concrete of Minoru Yamasaki’s 1962 One Woodward building and the variegated interior of the 1929 Guardian Building. His design, which is composed of shifting tones and moving planes of light, has added a pop of color and a renewed interest to the historic city’s constantly evolving skyline. “By day, the Skybridge will continue to be seen as its historic self within the architecture and massing of Downtown. But by night, it will become a beacon for the beauty, creativity, and innovation of Detroit,” said Smith. “I am interested in creating experiences that tap into ‘universal beauty’—experiences that make us step away from our pattern, our life, our work, our errands, and allow us to see sublime beauty shifting and changing before our eyes.”
Posts tagged with "Detroit":
On October 10, the doors of Detroit’s long-abandoned State Savings Bank will open to the public and reveal a space radically different from the building's original interior. Among the building’s elegant columns, historic bank vault, and vast interior space sits Doug Aitken’s latest art installation, a mystifying sculpture in the form of a one-story American suburban house, equipped with a maze of mirror-clad rooms and hallways that will leave visitors both disoriented and perplexed. The sprawling design, known as Mirage Detroit, diffracts and reflects every aspect of its surroundings, including the historic architecture of the antiquated building in which it resides. The resulting contrast is intense: the bank, with its bold sculptural supports, decorative enrichments, elaborate cornice, and over-scaled features, is juxtaposed with Aitken’s angular, mirrored sculpture and the room’s marble floor, which has been completely obscured by raw earth and river rocks. The merging of these elements conjures images of “a constantly shifting landscape that incorporates the organic and inorganic, reflects the past, and questions the future,” according to a statement from the artist's studio. Mirage Detroit will mark one of the first times that the public has had open access to the State Savings Bank, which was built in 1900 and has been vacant for decades. The bank, which is impressive by virtue of its sheer size, classical décor, and adaptation to the urban American landscape, represents the history of Detroit while looking towards its future. It was saved from demolition after it was purchased by Bedrock in late 2014. “In many ways, Mirage will become its surroundings,” says Anthony Curis, owner of Detroit-based art gallery Library Street Collective. “It will reflect and intensify one of the city’s greatest historical and cultural contributions—its grand architecture.” Over the course of the exhibition period, Mirage Detroit will host an array of cultural events ranging from educational programs, musical performances, and community programs funded by organizations like Cranbrook Academy of Art, Art Museum, Museum of Modern Art Detroit (MOCAD), and College for Creative Studies.
In celebration of Detroit’s designation as the first UNESCO City of Design, the Detroit Design Festival will transition from a weeklong event into Detroit Month of Design. From September 1 through 30, over 25 participants will present 41 events and special projects throughout the city in celebration of Motor City design. Detroit became the first and only city in America to receive a UNESCO City of Design designation in 2015, joining a network of over 20 cities using creativity as a driver of long-term equitable development. Perhaps known best for its program to designate World Heritage Sites, UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) was chartered in Paris in 1946 as a specialized branch of the United Nations pushing for the protection of justice and human rights through the advocacy of cultural heritage, in both tangible form—such as monuments, natural resources, and sites—and intangible, such as folkways, gastronomy, and literature. Detroit has been an active member of the City of Design network, with representatives traveling to other partner cities across the globe to participate in convenings and festivals. Detroit Month of Design is planned and executed completely by Design Core Detroit, an organization established in 2010 to recognize Detroit as the origin point for much of America’s industrial design and a driver of influential creative thought. Here are some Detroit Month of Design highlights: Sukkah x Detroit Sukkah x Detroit celebrates Detroit’s designation as a UNESCO City of Design as well as its 1,300 urban farms. Sukkah x Detroit received 78 applications from 17 countries to design contemporary sukkahs, which are ancient symbolic structures built for the celebration of Sukkot, a holiday commemorating Jewish freedom from slavery. The winning sukkahs will be on display in historic Capital Park, along with complementary programs and events. SHAPE: Defining Furniture in Michigan's Design Legacy Next:Space Detroit is curating an exhibit of contemporary furniture by the likes of Alex Drew and No One, Nina Cho, Colin Tury, and Hunt & Noyer inspired by the design theories and practices of Charles and Ray Eames and Florence Knoll (Knoll was a native Michigander). The furniture will go on display at the Shinola Canfield Flagship Store. Light Up Livernois Now in its fifth year, Light Up Livernois celebrates one of Detroit’s oldest and most significant commercial corridors, known for its connection to Detroit fashion. Vacant storefronts will be activated with art installations and pop-up shops, while existing businesses will be offering special programming and goods, and will be open late into the night. Previous iterations of Light Up Livernois offered musical performances and fashion vignettes. 2018 Junior League of Detroit Designers’ Show House Detroit designers are let loose within the 1922 Charles T. Fisher Mansion, the largest home in the Boston-Edison Historic District. The estate includes 14 bedrooms and 14 bathrooms, and includes a pub, a private chapel, and a prohibition-era liquor vault. From September 15 through October 7, 39 designers will transform over 40 spaces within the 18,000-square-foot home and throughout the gardens. Picnic Curated by Campo Studio (designers Fernando Bales & Elise DeChard), Picnic bills itself as a “spatial feast,” with the project blurring the lines between art and architecture. The piece will bring together a series of mobile furniture armatures, each with an independent presence and use. The project will be assembled and shown in the Simone DeSousa Gallery. Gold Ink + Red Wine at POST POST, a new, open-concept retail store on Detroit’s east side, will open its doors for tours, demos, and workshops all month long, allowing visitors to peruse new work by in-house design and production studios, including Mutual Admiration, Hooray Forever, and Scarlet Crane. The 1940s building that houses POST was a former post office and served for a while as a Baptist church. The store opened in 2017.
Artnet News recently reported on a Berlin-based artist who reconstructed one of Rosa Parks's homes and is now trying to sell it to an American institution so that it can be publicly displayed. The Rosa Parks house sheltered the famous civil rights pioneer after she left Montgomery, Alabama, for Detroit, Michigan, because of death threats that she was receiving because of her activism. After Parks's death the building was eventually abandoned and fell into disrepair, and the City of Detroit had slated the structure for demolition. The house was saved by Rhea McCauley, Parks's niece, who bought it for $500 in 2014. She then offered the building to Ryan Mendoza, an American artist based out of Berlin who had previous experience moving a house from Detroit to the Netherlands, so that he could move the building to a secure location. He then deconstructed the house, shipped it to Berlin, and rebuilt it in the European capital. Artnet News talked to both McCauley and Mendoza, who said that Berlin was just a stopping point for the house while he found a more permanent custodian for the structure in the U.S., where it could potentially serve as part of an educational exhibit on the life of Parks, the civil rights movement, or the history of African American housing throughout the past century. As Mendoza notes in the artnet News article, the Parks house is a testament to the low-quality structures that many African Americans were forced to accept as racist policies and redlining excluded them from housing loans and affluent neighborhoods. The article reported that Mendoza and McCauley were having trouble finding a suitable buyer, but that they are continuing their search and still hope to bring the structure back to the U.S.
A little bit of New Orleans’s music and architecture scene will touch down in Detroit this weekend with a music house’s residency at the Dabls MBAD African Bead Museum. 'Porch Life' is a 22-foot-tall mobile touring installation, conceptualized and built by New Orleans Airlift, a nonprofit arts organization. New Orleans Airlift is best known for The Music Box Village, an artist-built sculpture garden based in New Orleans and “a place where play, imagination, experimentation, collaboration, community and hard work come together.” The organization has been using common household architectural features as musical instruments. Porch Life, like other Music Box productions, features 11 musical instruments built into the multi-story home that professional and novice musicians can use. Handrails become harps; windows become percussion instruments; porch swings act as metronomes. It is the first mobile musical home that the organization has created, however, measuring 16 feet wide by 22 feet tall by 21 feet long and weighing 6,000 lbs—a hefty weight for a truck to tow. The project originally started off on Kickstarter, raising and meeting its goal of $14,000 to bring the house to life and on the road, hitting New Orleans’s Jazz Fest 2018, the Eaux Claires Festival in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, Detroit, and New York City. It will then return home to New Orleans to be incorporated into the Music Box Village. Fresh from Eaux Claires Festival, Porch Life's Detroit residency starts at 1 p.m. on Saturday, July 14 and will be open to the public, free of admission until 7 p.m.
The Gordie Howe International Bridge, a six-lane span between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, is set to begin construction this fall after the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority (WDBA) selected a team to design and build the structure. Bridging North America, an architecture, engineering, and construction 'whos-who' team including ACS Infrastructure Canada Inc., Dragados Canada Inc., Fluor Canada Ltd., AECOM, RBC Dominion Securities Inc., Carlos Fernandez Casado S.L/FHECOR Ingenieros Consultores, S.A., Moriyama and Teshima Architects, and Smith-Miller + Hawkinson Architects, LLP, will oversee construction of the $3.7 billion bridge. The WDBA touted the bridge’s benefits in a project update on July 5. The Detroit-Windsor crossing is currently serviced by four separate crossings and accounts for 25 percent of the trade between the U.S. and Canada. Gordie Howe is supposed to streamline entry and exit across both countries for the 2.6 million trucks that make the crossing annually. The 1.5-mile-long span would be the largest cable-stayed bridge in North America and would be supported by two enormous, A-shaped structural towers. In addition to the six lanes for vehicles, three in each direction, bike lanes have been planned for the side of the bridge facing Detroit. The bridge project includes new ports of entry on both borders and a new connection to I-75. Not everyone is on board with speeding up the flow of goods from Canada. Reflecting the sometimes tumultuous relationship that the Trump administration has had with America's neighbor to the north, owners of the nearby Ambassador Bridge, the Moroun family, are reportedly trying to kill the project. The Ambassador Bridge currently handles 60 to 70 percent of truck traffic across the Detroit River, and the Canadian Government, owners of the WDBA, have stipulated that the Ambassador Bridge will need to be torn down once the Gordie Howe is complete. In response, the Morouns have been buying commercial airtime on Washington, D.C.-area Fox News stations in an attempt to influence Trump to scrap the Gordie Howe. The family has also been trying to get the Trump administration to inject the Gordie Howe into NAFTA negotiations and to pressure the Canadian government to drop its requirement that the Ambassador Bridge be dismantled. The Morouns are also fighting to keep the Michigan Department of Transportation from using eminent domain to acquire the land it needs to build a 167-acre port-of-entry in Detroit’s Delray neighborhood. The WDBA is still negotiating contract details with Bridging North America, and if everything proceeds as planned, work on the Gordie Howe should begin by the end of September.
Three finalists have been chosen in the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) and Midtown Detroit, Inc. (MDI) competition to reimagine the campus that connects twelve iconic Detroit cultural institutions. After being narrowed down to eight firms this spring, Agence TER from Paris, France, Mikyoung Kim Design from Boston, and Minneapolis-based TEN x TEN have been unanimously selected by the eight-person jury out of 44 initial submissions, coming from more than ten countries and 22 cities. Each of the firms has secured Detroit-area partners working in diverse roles, from lighting to market strategy. The finalists are charged with studying the site and developing proposals to be presented to the public at the DIA on January 23, 2019, with a concurrent exhibition running until April 2. The winning team is expected to be announced in March 2019. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape how our arts and cultural district operates, and we hope that the public will take advantage of the many planned opportunities to provide feedback on what they would like to see and experience,” said Susan Mosey, Executive Director of Midtown Detroit, Inc. With the DIA and MDI looking to redevelop the area that connects the likes of the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, the Center for Creative Studies, the Scarab Club and, of course, the DIA, the competition looks to attract local and international visitors to these iconic Detroit institutions with a more accessible and user-friendly campus that has the flexibility to support events and public art.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.