Posts tagged with "Detroit":

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.
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SHoP breaks ground on Michigan’s future tallest building

Michigan Government Rick Snyder, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, and Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert were on hand for the groundbreaking of what will be the tallest building in Michigan. The SHoP-designed project is now expected to rise to 800 feet, making it at least 70 feet taller than John Portman's Renaissance Center, currently the city's tallest building. New renderings show a slightly more conservative formal language for the project. Most notably, the once slightly twisting tower has been straightened out, and deep curving insets have been designed out of the second (lower) building of the project. New York–based SHoP is working with local architects Hamilton Anderson Associates on the project, which is being overseen by Gilbert’s Bedrock development company. The $900 million project will include well over 300 residential units in the 58-story tower, which sits next to an additional 12-story mixed-use building. The ground level of the lower building will include a large market and exhibition space, along with other retail and civic spaces. An observation deck will top the tower. “The building is conceived around a huge and inspiring new public space, a year-round civic square that, both in its architecture and its culture, will foster and convey the feeling we all share when we work together to imagine what this great city can become,” said William Sharples, principal at SHoP, in a press release. The project is being built on what was once the site of one of Detroit’s most popular department stores, Hudson’s. Once the tallest department store in the world at 25 stories, the Hudson’s building was closed in the early 1980s and imploded in 1998. “Ever since Hudson’s closed its doors in 1983, Detroiters have waited and wondered what would come next and what could possibly live up to the incredible history of that block,” said Mayor Mike Duggan at the groundbreaking. “It’s taken nearly 35 years to get that answer, but when people watch this incredible new building rise and see all of the jobs and opportunity it brings, it will have been worth the wait.” The groundbreaking earlier this week begins the three-year building process. Along with this new project, Bedrock is planning to invest $2.1 billion in four projects throughout the city.
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2017 Best of Design Awards for Residential – Multi-Unit

2017 Best of Design Award for Residential – Multi-Unit: True North Designer: EC3 Location: Detroit, Michigan True North is a development comprised of nine rental units and shared community gardens located two-and-a-half miles from Downtown Detroit in a quiet, spacious neighborhood. It has received widespread recognition for pioneering creative, affordable design attuned to its community. For aesthetic and economic reasons, the client challenged the architect to utilize Quonset Huts, a prefabricated lightweight structure consisting of corrugated galvanized steel and having a semicircular cross section. The placement of the huts balances openness and security, views and privacy, socializing and solitude. Each structure is assembled on top of a four-inch concrete slab with in-floor radiant heat, which is also the unit’s finished floor. The end walls feature custom steel framing around polycarbonate panels that provide a higher level of security, natural light and high thermal value. Each interior is unique and designed to inspire different creative lifestyles in Detroit. “It’s always nice to see architects do so much with so little. Despite the restraints of working with prefabricated structures and limited materials palette, they’ve made a surprisingly beautiful development—one that could easily be repeated—for a city that needs creative solutions.” —Morris Adjmi, Principal, Morris Adjmi Architects (juror) Client: Prince Concepts Executive Architect: Studio Detroit Site and Landscape Design: EC3 Landscape Contractor: Heroes Landscape Manufacturer: SteelMaster   Honorable Mention Project: American Copper Building Architect: SHoP Architects Location: New York The American Copper Buildings present two bold and dynamic copper towers ‘dancing’ on NYC's East River. The 761-unit luxury rental community, designed to patinate over time, reaches 41 and 48 stories in height with an iconic, amenity-filled skybridge connecting the two towers.   Honorable Mention  Project: 2510 Temple Architect: Tighe Architecture  Location: Los Angeles

Perched within Los Angeles’s Historic Filipinotown, this combination of market-rate and affordable apartment units responds to the city’s housing crisis. Clad in metal panels, the sculptural form of the entry serves as a connection between the private areas of the project and commercial storefronts at street level.

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Watch the failed implosion of the Pontiac Silverdome

It took two tries to substantially demolish the Pontiac Silverdome, former home of the NFL’s Detroit Lions. On an unseasonably warm, but brisk Sunday morning, fans gathered to watch the spectacle of a controlled blast that was to partially implode the stadium. Once the series of explosions went off, nothing happened. The plan called for charges on major structural steel columns to be blasted, bringing down the upper level of the stadium and the ring which once secured its dome. According to a statement released by the City of Pontiac mayor Deirdre Waterman, eight of the shape charges did not go off. It would take a second try, on Monday afternoon, to bring the upper levels down, and begin the nine to 12-month process of demolishing the whole building. Built in 1975, the Silverdome was home to the Detroit Pistons during the 1980s and the Detroit Lions until 2002.
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Remembering modernist architect Gunnar Birkerts

Latvian-American modernist architect Gunnar Birkerts died at the age of 92 on August 15, just as his legacy is beginning to be reevaluated by contemporary architects and historians alike. Based in the Detroit area for over 40 years, Birkerts designed distinctive buildings in the central United States and taught studios and seminars as a professor at the University of Michigan. His work was characterized by an experimental attitude toward materials, an intuitive approach to space planning, and an uncommon keenness for innovation in the use of daylight. Riga, Latvia’s National Library of Latvia (NLL), Birkerts’s last and greatest building, was completed in 2014 after about 25 years of work on the project. The NLL is a marvelous culmination of his career. Its completion was doubly special because Birkerts—born in Riga and the son of Latvian folklorists Peteris and Merija Shop Birkerts—had long been committed to the maintenance of his nation’s cultural heritage. Birkerts’s renown peaked between the mid-1970s and the mid-1980s, when he completed a group of buildings that broke open the increasingly stale forms and material palette of modern architecture. These buildings diffused light on matte surfaces or refracted it from polished materials to reduce the glare that too often plagues sheer glass buildings. Birkerts was one of many “displaced persons” who arrived in the U.S. after World War II. He emigrated here after an architectural education at the Technische Hochschule Stuttgart, in Germany, and eventually settled in the Detroit area. Birkerts worked for Eero Saarinen in the early 1950s, as his firm was developing a laboratory-like working method driven by model building and materials testing. He later left the Saarinen office for Minoru Yamasaki’s—also in the Detroit area—where he contributed to that firm’s decorative embellishment of modernism. He often cited Eero and “Yama” as the two most profound influences on his approach to architecture. He left Yamasaki and formed a partnership with Frank Straub in 1962, then founded his independent firm Gunnar Birkerts & Associates in 1964. Even after most of his former colleagues at the Saarinen office—Kevin Roche, César Pelli, and Robert Venturi, among others—had departed for more cosmopolitan locales on the East and West coasts, Birkerts stayed in Detroit because he wanted to remain independent of any particular cadre or school. This individualist spirit was Birkerts’s key bequest to the generation of architecture students and office associates he guided. Because of his individualism, Birkerts was perfectly suited to the Detroit area, with its history of tinkerers, innovators, and entrepreneurs. “We may have been building Ferraris,” Birkerts said in a 2015 interview, “but we were doing it in a garage,” suggesting that the polished, industrial design–like aesthetic of his buildings was not mirrored in his office environment or working method. Indeed, in his later years, Birkerts expressed skepticism about the rising importance of digital design in architecture, believing that it distanced architects from the intuitive, the experimental, and the handmade. Loose sketching and conceptual metaphors occupied an increasingly central position in his creative process during his later years. These attitudes caused him to lose favor in the style- and technology-obsessed culture of the late 20th and early 21st century. Rebuffing the flamboyance of postmodernism and the structural exaggerations of High Tech, Birkerts spent those years laboring on several unrealized megaprojects in Italy, and on unjustly overlooked U.S. work including the Frank Lloyd Wright–infused Domino’s Farms development in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Later designs show Birkerts’s ability to deftly integrate motifs from the national romanticist and art nouveau buildings of his home city without descending into pastiche. Despite these unusual ingredients, he remained staunchly committed to modernism. But his was not the dogmatic International Style of earlier architects. Instead of codifying rules, Birkerts continued modernism’s intuitive tradition of individual expression. We can still learn much from his example.
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Detroit’s Shinola Hotel unveils new renderings

It has been 11 months since ground was broken on the Shinola Hotel in Downtown Detroit. Detroit-based real estate firm Bedrock and Detroit-based watch company Shinola have just released new renderings of the forthcoming project. Expected to be completed in late 2018, the hotel will fit into two existing buildings and additional new infill buildings along a quickly-developing stretch of Woodward Avenue in Downtown Detroit. New York-based Gachot Studios and Detroit-based Kraemer Design Group worked together on the design, which includes 130 rooms and ground-floor retail. Rather than a completely new structure, the hotel is being built into two existing buildings, 1400 and 1416 Woodward Avenue, with three new infill buildings connecting and extending the footprint of the two. When completed, each of the interlocked buildings will maintain a varied material and color palette along the street facade to better match the surrounding city fabric. Bedrock has been responsible for some of the most ambitious recent development in Downtown Detroit. Co-founded by Detroit native and Quicken Loans owner Dan Gilbert, Bedrock is the developer behind the proposed 52-story SHoP-designed tower, which is scheduled to break ground this week. Shinola is also well known in Detroit for its Detroit-first business model. Initially started as a watch company, it now produces leather goods, bicycles, and, most recently, audio equipment. Shinola has been vocal about bringing small industry back to Detroit and providing jobs for the city’s residents. Additionally, the leather and many of the components for Shinola products are made in the United States and assembled in the company’s Detroit factory. The company has not been without its critics. Some have pointed out that since the watches are made with inexpensive quartz movement, instead of self-winding mechanical movement, they are decidedly overpriced. Others have noted that the Texas-based parent company of Shinola simply chose to open shop in Detroit for marketing reasons. In 2016, the Federal Trade Commission also had something to say about the company’s marketing, ordering it to stop using the phrase “Where America is Made,” as certain watches it sells are made of materials produced 100% outside of the United States. Despite these criticisms, the company has been praised by the likes of Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, who have both purchased watches. Shinola has also played a role in shaping Detroit by opening a leash-less dog park, and donating four large building clocks to the City of Detroit, to be installed at cultural institutions. Ironically, the retail space of the new hotel is not planned to include a Shinola store. Even so, when the project opens in approximately one year, there will be no mistake about the lifestyle and brand the company is promoting in America's Comeback City.
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Detroit kicks off seventh annual Design Festival

As this dust settles in Chicago after the opening of the second Chicago Architecture Biennial, things are picking up in Detroit for the seventh annual Detroit Design Festival (DDF). This year’s festival runs from September 26 through September 30 in venues all over the city. Named the United States’ only UNESCO City of Design, Detroit has a long history of creative production spanning from design through fabrication and manufacturing. Hosting this year’s event is the Detroit Creative Corridor Center (DC3). DC3 is an economic development organization focused on encouraging and connecting the city’s growing creative community. The center is a partnership between Business Leaders of Michigan and the College for Creative Studies. Every day of the festival is filled with public programming. From studio visits and gallery openings to lectures and workshops, the festival hopes to reach the widest audience possible. Some highlights include Eastern Market After Dark, the Design Village, Light Up Livernois, Hamtramck Design Showcase and Designer Putt Putt. The Design Village will take place at the Ponyride Studio in Corktown, and will present the work of Detroit designers and makers for sale on Friday and Saturday. Light Up Livernois will explore the future of Detroit’s historic fashion district, while Hamtramck Design Showcase, will be a self-guided design tour of the city within a city. Designer Putt Putt is exactly what it sounds like. Inspired by similar events in London and Los Angeles, five designers were selected to design and install fantastical putting greens at Eastern Market. The designers, who were chosen through a competition include Indigo Carr, O2, ROSSETTI, Nick Tilma and Stephan Busscher, and Ciara Lindon. The public will be able to play the course during the Eastern Market After Dark and Light Up Livernois events.
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Yamasaki is reborn in Detroit

Nearly eight years after closing shop, noted Detroit-based Yamasaki will be reborn with a new headquarters in the recently renovated Fisher Building. Founded in 1957 by Minoru Yamasaki, the firm survived after his death in 1986 until 2009. Now under the leadership of Robert Szantner, one of Yamasaki’s long-time employees, the firm will reopen with other former employees who were able to buy the firm's intellectual property out of receivership. Yamasaki is responsible for such iconic projects as the World Trade Center, Seattle’s Rainier Tower, and the Federal Reserve Bank. After graduating from New York University and working for Shreve, Lamb & Harmon, designers of the Empire State Building, Yamasaki moved to Detroit where he would eventually found his own firm. Throughout his time working in New York and Detroit, Yamasaki narrowly avoided being sent Japanese internment camps with the help of his employers, despite being born in Seattle. Once established, Yamasaki also became one of the few architects to grace the cover of TIME magazine. The new iteration of the firm hopes to build on the legacy of the famed architect and take part in Downtown Detroit’s recent construction uptick. Five of the 12-person firm formerly worked directly under Minoru Yamasaki in the original firm. “The marketplace has provided us with an opportunity to bring back the Yamasaki name to its roots,” said Szantner in a press release. “Detroit is about to grow in every way, including vertical. That fits into the experience of our professionals with urban projects of all types, so we want to play a role in the transformation of this city, as we have in so many projects here and around the world, while always being based in Southeast Michigan." The new Yamasaki headquarters will take up 3,000 square feet of the Joseph Nathaniel French and Albert Kahn-designed Fisher Building. Listed as a National Historic Landmark and included on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, the Fisher Building recently underwent a multi-million-dollar redevelopment. “We are reinterpreting Yama’s values, that we learned from him,” explained Szantner, looking to the firm's future. “Simplicity in design, the use of sustainable materials, buildings that enhance social interaction – those are all qualities that buildings need now, with new applications.”
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How a $500 house tells the story of a changing Detroit

Something about Detroit awakens a feeling in many that can only be described as a frontier romanticism. But just like the American West was not uninhabited, free for the taking by European settlers, Detroit is a city with existing communities, existing assets, existing problems, and existing potential. It is a city with 700,000 inhabitants that have watched as their surroundings have crumbled into an uncanny post-industrial landscape. What to “do with” tens of thousands of vacant structures and vacant lots is a perennial discussion among architects, planners, developers, and politicians. When 23-year-old Drew Philp bought a house for $500 in the Poletown neighborhood, he was less concerned with solving the city’s problems than he was with surviving Detroit’s brutal winters without heat. In his first book, A $500 House in Detroit, published by Scribner, he tells a story of struggle and triumph as he rebuilds a dilapidated Queen Anne, one piece at a time. When Philp moved to Detroit, he was in the final year of his undergraduate degree at the University of Michigan. With little in the way of a plan or a mission, he worked and lived hand-to-mouth. Slowly making friends, he found himself part of an urban farming community called the Yes Farm. Still without a permanent place to stay, he learned of the county’s annual property auction. The auction sold off county-owned properties, bidding starting at $500. The house he would end up buying was barely a shell, and it would take years to bring it up to a livable condition.
This story, of a white kid from Anywheresville, Michigan, moving to the predominantly African American Detroit to find himself, sounds more like a veiled gentrification narrative than a worthwhile topic for a critical look at the city. Yet, experiences like Philp’s, while not completely unique, have rarely been told in such detail, or with as much awareness of their inherent cultural worldview. Throughout, Philp questions his place in his community, conscious of every interaction with his neighbors. Five years of experiences, traumatic and joyful, and firsthand lessons in community politics, give him a perspective that is insightful and measured. Intertwined with his account, Philp includes historic anecdotes explaining the events leading to the current conditions of inequality, corruption, and vacancy in Detroit. One of the most powerful accounts discusses how entire neighborhoods were destroyed when the interstate was driven through the heart of the city. While this is a story that has been told in nearly every American city, it has special meaning in Philp’s case, as his grandfather built his home, well outside of Detroit, from the reused wood from those forcefully demolished homes. Events like this forced Philp, and now his readers, to contemplate guilt, reparation, appropriation, and race relations in a very real, very personal way. Philp also points out that much of the book was literally written at the kitchen table from that same house.
Told in a typical Midwestern voice, Philp’s writing will be clear and familiar to anyone who grew up in Middle America. Even so, many will find it hard to see themselves in his shoes, but this may be a strength for the book. Rather than fetishizing the experience, Philp constantly questions his actions. Less a how-to than a cautionary tale, few will feel any urge to attempt to re-create his experience. The timing of the book, taking place roughly from 2009–2017, happens to coincide with major changes in Detroit, which have yet to be proven good or bad. An influx of young white people, Philp arguably being part of the first wave of them, and global interest in the critically distressed city, has made it a space of pilgrimage and settlement by many more with more social and economic privilege than those who have stuck it out over the years. This underlying theme of a changing city plays itself out over and over again throughout the book, with Philp often stuck awkwardly in between “progress” and empathy. The genesis of A $500 House in Detroit came when Philp wrote a short piece for BuzzFeed. If the story would have ended there, a few thousand words bookended by stories like “15 Celebrity Tweets You Missed This Week,” it would have simply become yet another one-dimensional anecdote about a city that is in dire need of having its complex story told. And while A $500 House never professes to tell the whole story, it does add a significant voice to the dialogue, without fetishizing or romanticizing the city and the lives of those who live there.
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Renderings revealed for Schmidt Hammer Lassen’s first U.S. project

Plans have been announced for the first U.S. project by Denmark-based Schmidt Hammer Lassen. Monroe Block will bring over 1 million square feet of office space, retail, residential, and public space to downtown Detroit at the confluence of Cadillac Square, Camus Martius, Library Square, and Woodward Avenue. The development will be one of the largest developments the city has seen in decades. Bedrock Detroit is acting as developer for the project while Detroit-based Neumann/Smith Architecture is the architect of record. Bath, England–based engineers Buro Happold and Copenhagen-based landscape architects SLA are also part of the team. "Detroit is a unique place, I believe everyone living in the Western [world] has at some point been influenced or touched by Detroit,” said Kristian Ahlmark, senior partner at Schmidt Hammer Lassen, in a press release. “We all know or can relate to its legacy: the U.S. automobile industry, the architecture of Albert Kahn and Woodward, and obviously the music.” Along with 24-hour public plazas and green spaces, the development planned to include grocery stores and food markets, entertainment and sport facilities, and possibly exhibition and performance spaces. Along with the office space, the project will also include 480 residential units. The announcement follows closely on the heels of the proposed 52-story SHoP-designed tower along Woodward Avenue. Both projects are being developed by Bedrock, a firm that plays a large role in nearly $5.5 billion of ongoing development in the city. While Schmidt Hammer Lassen has never built in the United States, it has projects in Canada, as well as across northern Europe and eastern Asia. The firm’s Halifax Central Library, in Nova Scotia, Canada recently won the Governor General Medal in Architecture of Canada. “Our Scandinavian heritage has a strong influence on the way we approach city building on this scale. We always try to think urbanism, city space and the built environment in that order,” added Ahlmark.