Posts tagged with "Detroit":

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Chicago Mulls Zoning Changes To Ward Off Mountains of Petcoke

Piles of dusty, black waste from coal and petroleum processing have been piling up on Chicago’s southeast side, angering residents and prompting Mayor Rahm Emanuel to weigh in on the contentious environmental issue. The Sun-Times has reported that Emanuel will introduce an ordinance at next month’s City Council meeting banning new storage facilities for so-called petcoke—a byproduct of the oil refinery process that can be sold overseas. It’s a step back from an outright ban proposed in December by Alderman Edward Burke, whose constituents were outraged by black dust clouds wafting from uncovered piles of petcoke along the Calumet River. Southeast side communities like Calumet, South Chicago, and South Deering are no strangers to industrial zoning. The Illinois-Indiana border has long been a pastiche of brownfields, residential communities, natural areas, and heavy industry. But the swirling black dust incited a class-action lawsuit filed against three storage sites last year. Chicago’s Department of Public Health shares area residents’ concerns. “We know that petcoke is a respiratory irritant and the main concern is if the petcoke is inhaled,” Commissioner of Public Health Dr. Bechara Choucair told the Sun-Times. “If you have somebody with asthma or other respiratory problems, inhaling petcoke would really lead to more problems…We are advancing this ordinance to protect our residents.” The anticipated zoning ordinance would prevent new petcoke storage facilities from entering the city, and would keep current outfits from expanding. KCBX, the largest such facility in the area, says the ordinance is unjustified, a sentiment shared by some business groups:
Mark Denzler, vice president of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association called the ordinance “a solution in search of a problem.” … The Illinois Chamber of Commerce is also questioning the ordinance, calling it an “overreaction.” “We don’t understand what the mayor is trying to accomplish here. Petcoke and coal have been handled and stored in Chicago for decades with few issues. This seems like an overreaction to one incident – good policy rarely comes from overreacting,” Doug Whitley, Illinois Chamber of Commerce CEO said.
KCBX is an affiliate of Koch Industries, the business empire of brothers Charles and David H. Koch. Their company, Koch Carbon, came under fire last year for storing the same material along the Detroit River.
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Detroit Clears Land for a Downtown Park and a Massive Urban Forest

With Detroit bankrupt and under the authority of a state-appointed emergency manager, all options for the city's future are on the table. But not all news out of the infamously depopulated city is about cutting back. A new park downtown broke ground this week, and plans surfaced for a massive urban forest on Detroit’s southeast side. Construction began this week on a downtown park, the future site of Mini Campus Martius. DTE Energy has cleared a parking lot and two small buildings on a roughly triangular patch of land near its “West Downtown” headquarters. Meanwhile, after five years of preparation, a plan to transform 140 acres of vacant land on the city’s southeast side into an urban forest got approval from the state and Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr. Hantz Farms, a venture of financier John Hantz, will buy the land for more than $500,000, clear 50 abandoned structures, maintain the property and plant 15,000 trees in the coming years. Clearing the land could cost another $600,000. That’s money the people behind Hantz Woodlands hope to recover in time. “This is designed to be a for-profit enterprise,” Hantz Farms’ President Mike Score told The Atlantic Cities. “I can assure you we have a business plan and we don’t have any anxiety about achieving our goals.” That plan begins with building trust among community members, before Hantz gets to planting apple orchards and shrubbery. Score said the transition from blight to burgeoning urban forest should take four years.
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A River of Light Flows Through Detroit’s Renovated First National Building

Curbed Detroit drew our attention to that city’s Fist National Building and its year-long renovation. The Albert Kahn-designed building opened in 1930. Its interiors have fallen into disrepair, including the original plaster ceiling. In preparation for Papa Joe’s Gourmet Kitchen, which will occupy 15,000 square feet of the building’s Cadillac Square frontage, the building’s ground floor underwent a massive renovation. The work uncovered the old plasterwork, raising the ceiling height in the process. A flowing white element was added to accent the historic ceiling. Photos courtesy Chris and Michelle Gerard.
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Review> Set Designer Harnesses Nostalgia for Detroit in AMC’s New Series, “Low Winter Sun”

Nostalgia (nóstos), meaning "homecoming", a Homeric word, and (álgos), meaning "pain, ache", and was coined by a 17th-century medical student to describe the anxieties displayed by Swiss mercenaries fighting away from home. Ruth Ammon, set designer for the AMC television series, Low Winter Sun, used this word to describe the series in its most honorable sense. This tale of morality uses the architecture of Detroit’s heyday, to embody the pride of the city which elevated middle working class life. It is poignant that the city’s decline is also apparent in every frame, rather than pimping these noble structures like urban porn. Whether featuring Albert Kahn’s Packard Automotive Plant, 1903-11 (the production offices were next door to this location, one of the largest parcels of unoccupied real estate in the Western hemisphere); Kahn’s Detroit Police Headquarters at 1300 Beaubien St., 1923 (given the same role in the series, but now under threat since the PDP moved out); the art deco David Stott Building of 1929 by Donaldson and Meier; St. Hyacinth Roman Catholic Church, 1924 by Donaldson and Meier; or the Venetian Gothic Ransom Gillis House, 1876-78 (documented extensively by photographer Camilo Jose Vergara), these were deliberate choices. The tale centers on the murder investigation of a deeply corrupt cop. We know from the opening scene who did it—two of his fellow officers. One is an honest cop, Frank Agnew (Mark Strong), who agrees to participate after being fed misleading information by another cop, whose motives are more ambiguous. When Frank is assigned to solve the case, he must find a way to investigate without revealing his own guilt. The visual language reflects these moral ambiguities: the lone figure in a landscape usually backlit, which could almost be in a Western, but the vast expanses are downtown, a hallmark of contemporary Detroit. Buildings are often sited next to these open fields dotted with wildflowers among the debris, like the remaining few teeth in a withered mouth, but we always see a child on a bicycle, a man walking (who has money for gas?) or a dog (one has a rat in its mouth). These silhouetted figures are in wide shots, a rare luxury in an urban context; when you shoot in New York or Los Angeles, the picture has to be carefully cropped to eliminate unwanted surroundings. The visual vocabulary has pronounced darks and lights, and is often shot with available light, or motivated with a single light source indoors. In addition, mirrored surfaces and shots looking through glass partitions all contribute to the dark mood. The most modern location is the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center, originally called the City-County Building, 1954, an international style building designed by Harley, Ellington and Day featuring white marble facing with black marble spandrels. It is here that the series will come to a head, with a faceoff among the protagonists as they enter this courthouse. Unusually for Cold Winter Sun, the building is wedged into a cityscape with the 3-mile long Detroit People Mover elevated train snaking its way across the screen. We’ve seen this public transit system before in other scenes where the Ren Cen and other downtown sites can be seen in the backdrop. On a up-note, Campus Martius Park (from the Latin for Field of Mars, where Roman heroes walked), which is the point of origin in the Detroit coordinate system—8 Mile Road is 8 miles from this point—is a revitalized green space with new stages, sculptures, an ice-skating rink, mini sand beach, and restaurants. It is filled with lunch-time workers, and is the site of a meeting of two warring gangsters, chosen as neutral territory in the midst of a vibrant public space. Many films have been shot in Detroit from 8 Mile, Beverly Hills Cop, Gran Torino, Robocop and the recent documentaries Searching for Sugarman and Detropia (one of its characters is Tommy Stephens, proprietor of the Raven Lounge, a location used in Low Winter Sun). But Low Winter Sun uses the city differently. We frequent Brush Park, Greektown, Boston-Edison, Indian Village, Klenk Island, Cass Corridor, MorningSide as well as downtown. It’s almost a cliche to say that the city plays a character in the series, but (not having seen the British original) it feels that this story could only have been set in this American city at this point in its history. That’s nostalgia. Low Winter Sun, AMC, Sundays 10/9 PM and on demand. 10 episodes (season started 8.11.13).
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As Detroit Struggles With Bankruptcy, Auction House Appraises Prized Art Collection

Even as Detroit’s municipal bankruptcy reverberates among residents and onlookers alike, the city’s art scene shines on. Unfortunately for the Detroit Institute of Art, red ink may yet claim its city-owned collection. This week the museum confirmed Christie’s Appraisals had been hired to appraise a portion of the cultural institution’s holdings. But an appraisal is not a sale. The city’s art collection includes work by Rodin, Van Gogh, and Cézanne. The museum denied the possibility of a fire sale, saying in a statement:

We continue to believe there is no reason to value the collection as the Attorney General has made clear that the art is held in charitable trust and cannot be sold as part of a bankruptcy proceeding. We applaud the [Emergency Manager]’s focus on rebuilding the City, but would point out that he undercuts that core goal by jeopardizing Detroit's most important cultural institution.

Christie’s, too, deflected scrutiny of what many perceived as the beginning of the end for a proud collection of art. “We understand that a valuation of all the City’s assets (extending well beyond the art) is one of the many steps that will be necessary for the legal system to reach a conclusion about the best long term solution,” they said in a separate statement, adding their goal is to advise on "how to realize value for the City while leaving the art in the City’s ownership.” The auction house’s assessment doesn’t mean all or even any of the 60,000-piece collection will be sold or even leased (some are off-limits anyway if their original benefactor stipulated they can never be sold). Assessment would be the first step in a such a process, but it could also mean Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr is just showing creditors that all options are on the table. Financial experts speculated to The Christian Science Monitor that sales of city land or infrastructure, such as its sewer system, could be better bets. Detroit’s municipal bankruptcy is the biggest by far in U.S. history, so Orr’s decisions—whatever they may be—are anyone's guess, and will doubtless be the subject of intense scrutiny.
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Mixed-Use Development Planned for the Detroit Riverfront

Detroit’s Economic Development Corp. gave a preliminary green light to at least 291 low-rise units of housing and retail space along five blocks of the Detroit riverfront. St. Louis-based McCormack Baron Salazar, whose CEO Richard Baron is a Detroit native, would first build the three- to four-story townhouses and apartment buildings along Atwater and Franklin Streets, between the Dequindre Cut Greenway and Riopelle Street. The site borders the Detroit Riverwalk and Tricentennial State Park. If that goes well, the firm could develop a second phase to add 200 rentals or condo units, as well as more retail and restaurants. The Economic Development Corp. is expected to contribute a $1.7 million loan, and could transfer the property to McCormack Baron Salazar for $1 if the developer can secure financing. Much of the funding could come from state funds, as well as a U.S. Housing and Urban Development mortgage. In a city where huge swaths of land remain in a mode of urban decay, even attractive riverfront property near trendy downtown needs a complex system of financing. Baron told the Detroit Free Press he hopes to finish construction on the $60 million project by early 2016.
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Design Competition Reimagines Detroit’s Hudson’s Department Store Site

Submissions to the “Redesigning Detroit” competition matched the enthusiasm of its sponsor, Rock Ventures / Quicken Loans, in envisioning a future for the once iconic J.L. Hudson’s department store on Woodward Avenue downtown. Demolished 15 years ago, the 25-story tower left a physical and symbolic gap in the city’s urban fabric that the competition asked its entrants to repair. "You couldn't ask for a more exciting piece of property to redevelop, and one that can have such a profound impact on how Detroit feels about itself and sees itself," said Reed Kroloff, outgoing director of the Cranbrook Academy of Art and advisor on the competition. The juried competition garnered 200 submissions. Winners were awarded $15,000 for first place, $5,000 for second place and $2,500 for third place, but it’s unclear what will be built. Jim Ketai, who manages Dan Gilbert’s real estate entity, mentioned plans for two residential towers on the Hudson site in a Q&A with AN. The goal of the competition from the sponsor’s standpoint was apparently to get a conversation going. Per their usual MO, Rock Ventures made one stipulation: it had to include retail. Here are the winners: First Place: “MINICITY Detroit” Davide Marchetti and Erin Pellegrino; Rome, Italy  Second Place: “Detroit Entrepreneurial Center (DEC),” Efrain Velez, Juan Nunez, Marko Kanceljak; Kalamazoo, Michigan Third Place: “Highwave Detroit,” Team Rossetti/Metrogramma; Southfield (soon to be Detroit), Michigan   Three projects also won a public voting round, earning cash prizes of $2,500, $1,000 an $500 respectively: First Place: “Hudson’s Quarter,” Emilie M. Rottman and James G. Ramil; Washington DC Second Place: “Exten(D),” Extending Life in the D, Beyond the 9 to 5, Smith Group JJR-Diana Khadr, Tengteng Wang, Alexa Bush, Kyle Johnson, Jessie McHugh; Detroit, Michigan comm3 Third Place: “Blue Fountain Tower,” Salvador Parra Espinosa and Selene Serna Contreras, De San Bernadino; Toluca, Mexico
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Illinois Developer Plans To Buy Detroit’s Dilapidated Packard Plant

Detroit’s Packard Automotive Plant is one of Albert Kahn’s most well-known designs. But while this 3.5 million-square-foot behemoth remains iconic, it’s not exactly enduring. Collapsed roofs, asbestos, and an ocean of debris (apparently navigable) are among the foreclosed property’s less attractive qualities. But Bill Hults thinks a $350 million renovation project could revive the plant, which closed in 1956, perhaps positioning it at the center of a metro-area rebound. The Illinois developer has plans to buy the massive, dilapidated factory for $974,000 in unpaid taxes. But as Bill Bradley writes for Next City, Hults’ own unpaid debts ($50,000 according to Hults) may compound the challenges inherent in rehabbing a building so far gone. On the bright side, the building does have strong bones of reinforced concrete. And Albert Kahn Associates could help restore their namesake’s historic design. Funding for the project is unclear. Some projects in Detroit have united disparate donors, developers, and aggressive government incentives to green light otherwise unlikely projects. But if this proves to be a turning point for the Packard Plant, long one of Detroit’s living examples of the city’s precipitous rise and fall, its timing may prove poignant; on Thursday Detroit became the largest city in the country to file for bankruptcy.
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A Beach Island for Downtown Detroit Aims to Activate the Campus Martius

For Detroit citizens escaping to the beach just became as easy as taking a trip downtown. The city’s urban beach opened at the end of June in Campus Martius, transforming one Detroit’s downtown traffic islands on Woodward Avenue into actual island oasis complete with 150 tons of sand. Downtown Detroit Partnership was motivated to bring a temporary beach to the  neighborhood by France’s Paris Plages plan that creates temporary sandy strips along the Seine river. For Detroit the sandy retreat is integrated into the city’s greater revitalization efforts to create economic development and bring active and accessible public spaces into everyday life. And while there are no rolling waves crashing in on Detroit’s sand island it still offers a place to lunch, socialize, or just kick back. So if you’re in Detroit this summer throw on your flip-flops and head for the shores of Woodward Avenue.
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On View> Mobile Homestead: MOCA Detroit’s Community Center on Wheels

Mobile Homestead Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit 4454 Woodward Avenue Permanent Before his passing at the young age of 57, Los-Angeles based artist Mike Kelley created an exact duplicate of his childhood home in the Westland area of Detroit, on-wheels. The artist intended to use the mobile-home as a community center, it’s rooms dedicated to hosting local events and providing community services and education programs, save for the two-story basement, which he would close to the public and use as his private underground studio. Kelley was never able to use his studio. He tragically committed suicide before he could ever see his vision come to life, but his artistic legacy lives on. The mobile home, which provides a solid example of the architecture of working-class neighborhoods in the American Midwest, was wheeled to The Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit where it has been transformed into a center for community programs, just as Kelley intended.
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Flint Public Art Project’s Free City Fest Reclaims Razed Chevy Site

The ongoing efforts of artists and designers to reignite the spark of downtown development in aging industrial cities face no simple task. But as architects and developers begin to put pencil to paper, the best public art projects draw on the spiritual side of that renewal. Flint, Michigan’s inaugural Free City Festival, held May 3-5, did just that when it revived a mile-long stretch of now-razed Chevrolet plants with public art, transformational lighting displays and a reverberating gospel choir. “There was a such a sense of heaviness about this space. It was a place where so many people worked,” said Stephen Zacks, executive director of the Flint Public Art Project. “It’s a kind of cleansing experience, for it to no longer be a blank space.” They installed more than 75 projects, including work by NAO, Srjdan Jovanovic Weiss's firm, Boston-based architect Jae K. Kim, Flint’s Freeman Greer, Ann Arbor-based architect Catie Newell of Alibi Studio, New York-based architects Matthias Neumann and Natalia Roumeliotian, and an inflatable shelter by Michael Flynn modeled after Anish Kapoor's Cloud Gate in Chicago (above). The festival was produced with funding from ArtPlace, a consortium of national foundations in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts. The organizers are looking for sponsors to help repeat their success next year. It isn’t the only public art plot to rejuvenate the one-time home of General Motors. Recently London-based Two Islands took first place in the inaugural Flat Lot Competition, floating plans to erect a mirror-clad foreclosure icon that would douse a downtown public square with cool mists on hot summer days. “There are things people think they know about Flint, but aren’t really reflective of the city today,” Zacks said. “If we can create great spaces, we can start to consolidate a new image and identity of the place.”
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The Shortlist> Top Five Competitions of the Week

Are you eager to put your architectural design skills to the test?  Here are some exciting upcoming competitions that will be sure to present you with the type of challenge you’ve been waiting for. AN‘s editors have combed through our online listing of architecture and design competitions to bring you five of the most interesting competitions happening right now. If you’d like your competition to be included in the listing, please submit it here. Redesigning Detroit: A New Vision for an Iconic Site. Opportunity Detroit is on the hunt for innovative, creative, and inspired designs for a new building that will be built on the historic Hudson's site, one of the most beloved locations in downtown Detroit. The goal is to change the city's image and to promote it as a positive place where anyone may live, work, play and invest. The competition, sponsored by Rock Ventures, will award a first prize of $15,000, a second prize of $5,000 and third prize of $2,500. Take action and submit a new vision for the iconic site. Registration Deadline: April 30, 2013 Submission Deadline: May 31, 2013 The Public Policy Lab Call for Fellows. The Public Policy Lab, the New York City Department of Education's Innovation Zone (iZone), and the Office of School Enrollment have formed a partnership and are searching for opportunities to improve the high-school admissions process. The NYC Department of Education is the largest school district in the country and each year thousands of students participate in a complex school-selection and application process. Three fellowships for design research, visual design, and project strategy will be awarded to professionals interested in participating in the initiative to test iZone's approaches and ongoing use of design-based innovation techniques. Submission Deadline: May 5, 2013 Slant Open International Competition 2013: "Evoking Memories." SLANT is hosting an international landscape design competition in which it invites designers of all disciplines and experience levels to submit their designs for a "show garden." Entrants are encouraged to interpret the competition any way they'd like, but the design should succeed in evoking some kind of memory, whether it be of a person, place, or event, personal or nationally-known. The top two designs will receive monetary prizes and six others will receive merit awards. Submission Deadline: May 20, 2013 International Gastronomic Center. From the beginning of time food has always brought people together. Through hunting, fishing, agriculture, and raising livestock the Greeks, Romans, Venetians, Arabs, Byzantines, and French developed their own regional cuisines. The growth of transportation via roads and boats led to the rise in tourism and consequently to the mixing and intermingling of these different cuisines, resulting in cuisines composed of diverse cultural components. The International Gastronomic Center invites architects from all over the world to design a new center that will attract chefs from all stretches of the world. The ideal center will accommodate their research initiatives, provide chefs with a space in which they can openly exchange their knowledge and ideas, and encourage creative experimentation. Additionally the design must include public spaces, classrooms, and conference rooms. The top three winners will receive cash prizes and recognition by being published in various international publications. Registration Deadline: May 24th, 2013 Submission Deadline: June 14, 2013 Search and Destroy_Target #1.0 Rome. Inspired by Emperor Nero's quote, "Rome will be born again, more beautiful and magnificent than ever before," this competition dares architects to select any historical site in Rome, whether it be the Coliseum or the Ara Pacis, destroy it, and in its place redesign a new building that will hold the same meaning and serve the same purpose as the one before. This provocative competition aims to challenge entrants to contemplate the role that contemporary architecture plays in a historical city and consider the way that it responds to  concepts of collective memory, monument, and identity. Registration Deadline: May 18, 2013 Submission Deadline: May 20, 2013