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.
Posts tagged with "Detroit":
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.
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.
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.”
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
Dan Gilbert, Quicken Loans founder and perennial champion of Detroit’s downtown real estate market, recently added two skyscrapers to his collection. The two towers are on Detroit’s Woodward Avenue. He acquired the 1916 Albert Kahn-designed Vinton Building (left) in December and scooper up the 1001 Woodward tower (right), built in 1965, this month. For more insight on the company’s real estate enterprise, which now totals 2.8 million square feet of commercial and residential space in Detroit, read our Q&A with Gilbert's real estate partner Jim Ketai here.
The Detroit Works Project has received the economic boost it needed to put its Detroit Future City plan into action. Detroit Free Press reported that the Troy-based, Kresge Foundation will give $150 million over the next five years to help accomplish the objectives outlined in the 347-page plan, which focuses on creating economic growth and building infrastructure in Detroit. A technical team led by Toni Griffin, a New York-based urban planner, crafted an extensive list of recommendations such as blue and green infrastructures, job creation, and management of vacant land.
Outgoing U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced recently that Detroit's M-1 Rail project, aka the Woodward Light Rail Line, will receive $25 million in federal TIGER funding. The plans for this 3-mile long light rail system along Woodward Avenue will include 11 stops running from the city’s downtown to New Center. According to the Detroit Free Press, $100 million has already been raised of the light rail line's $140 million price tag. Officials said the first trains could be running by the end of 2015. Proposed M1 Rail Map:
Detroit Mayor Dave Bing announced Friday that the city will close 51 parks. The Detroit Free Press’ Matt Helms has the full list of parks here, including an additional 37 parks that will receive limited maintenance. The closures are the result of massive cuts to the city’s parks and recreation budget due to the City Council’s rejection this week of a plan to lease Belle Isle to the state. Details of the council’s decision were evidently worked out late Thursday night, so the devastating cuts came as a surprise to many residents. The move recalls closures announced, but avoided, in 2010.
AIA Michigan is looking for a new executive director. The 126-year-old, Detroit-based organization needs someone to act as its “ambassador to the broader business and civic community.” Dennis M. King, the search committee chair, is accepting submissions at firstname.lastname@example.org until the close of business Friday, March 1. More information is available at aiami.com. (Image: Bernt Rostad / Flickr)
The Detroit Free-Press is reporting Belle Isle could become a state park. A public hearing is expected Thursday, and city council could vote on the plan as soon as January 29. Belle Isle is a 985-acre island in the middle of the Detroit River originally designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. While details are still being negotiated, it appears the plan could save the City of Detroit $8 million per year in operating costs. Though Detroit would still own the land, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources would operate the island as a state park, charging motorists an $11 entry fee. Bicyclists and pedestrians would still get free access. The potential deal comes on the heels of some good news for Motor City urbanists. In addition to filling out the gaps in the city’s riverwalk, Detroit is moving forward with its M-1 Rail plan, as well as an ongoing $300 million renovation of its Cobo convention center.
Detroit’s stark unemployment and population loss have spurred plenty of ideas for redevelopment, from new manufacturing to urban agriculture. A recently unveiled piece of public art meditates on one thing the city has in excess: empty space. Once the country’s 5th largest city, Detroit is now 18th after decades of depopulation and disinvestment stemming from an eroding industrial base. Just when it seemed like population loss might finally bottom out, the city lost another 25 percent of its residents between 2000 and 2010. Empty Pavilion is a purposefully sparse figure made from bent steel tubing, foam and rubber—a formally inventive jungle gym that invites passers-by to traverse the gravel lot it occupies off 14th Street. Yet it is the pavilion, set in a painted profile of an absent house, that plays with the city. Recalling architectural elements in its weaves and makeshift chairs, Empty Pavilion is both an apparition of homes long gone and a canvas for expression among the city’s remaining urbanites. The pavilion was built by McLain Clutter, assistant professor at the University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture; Kyle Reynolds, assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee; and University of Michigan graduate students Ariel Poliner, Michael Sanderson, and Nathan Van Wylan.