“Detroit is not having a renaissance,” philanthropist Gary Wasserman proclaimed in the Bushwick, Brooklyn studio space of painter Markus Linnenbruck, “It is an entirely new expression of urbanism.” With the sun pouring in through large, iron-frame windows, he introduced the concept for his new Detroit arts venue. Cities, he says, are “the 21st century frontier,” not the West or Space. “Detroit is not the only city to fail, but it is the biggest,” he said, noting that the city was once over 2 million people, but is now down to 600,000 or so. This has left massive amounts of transportation infrastructure, cultural infrastructure, and housing redundant and abandoned. In this landscape, the city needs more places to sustain urban activity. Wasserman wants to create “a destination providing something of interest that becomes another thread in the urban fabric,” he explained. Wasserman Projects will be located in an old 5,000 square-foot fire station in Detroit’s Eastern Market district and will open on September 25th during the Detroit Design Festival. The new arts hub is expected to spur artistic interaction and development. The space will grow to 9,000 square-feet in the coming months, and will eventually include a kunsthalle, chamber concert hall, a gallery, an artist’s residency, a studio space, and a permanent installation of The Cosmopolitan Chicken Project, which is the work of Belgian artist Koen Vanmechlen. He breeds national symbolic chickens as a metaphor for human diversity. The opening exhibition will be a collection of paintings by Linnenbruck, shown in a pavilion designed by Miami architect Nick Gelpi. The pavilion is a large wooden structure that splits open to reveal a glossy, colorful interior painted by Linnenbruck. The two halves become an acoustic space for performance.
Posts tagged with "Detroit":
Dan Gilbert, billionaire founder of Quicken Loans and champion of downtown Detroit commercial real estate, last week announced he will buy the long-vacant 38-story Book Tower skyscraper and two other adjacent buildings on Washington Boulevard. The latest in a series of acquisitions for Gilbert sizable portfolio under Bedrock Real Estate Services, the buildings will cost about $30 million total, to be paid to Vancouver-based AKNO Properties. That's for the 1926 Book Tower, the 13-story Book Building and an adjacent 2-story community center. Read our Q+A with Gilbert’s real estate partner Jim Ketai here. The Detroit Free Press quoted Gilbert as saying he's planning "a game-changing, mixed-use development.” The tower and the Book Building have been vacant since 2009, and renovations are expected to cost more than $100 million.
Unmasking the Motor City: New mapping software by LOVELAND Technologies is helping to fight blight in Detroit
Detroit is in the midst of the single-largest tax foreclosure in American History. More than 60,000 foreclosed properties are clustered in the Motor City. The threat of eviction looms over remaining inhabitants and poses the larger long-term threat of a spike in homelessness. The root of the problem—unpaid property taxes—seems untenable when viewed alongside the resulting greater city-wide disaster. Auctions selling newly "vacated" houses—of which half are still occupied—for around $500 are becoming increasingly common. Any hope for a stab at renovating some of the vacant properties that litter the city, however, is outweighed by the uncertain outcome interested investors face at the prospect of having to devote their time and money to transforming blight-stricken zones into livable residences. Fortunately, public database LOVELAND Technologies has taken on the challenge of brightening Detroit's future. Founded by Jerry Paffendorf, LOVELAND started out by mapping tax-foreclosed and auctioned properties. The company took off when Detroit's Blight Task, founded by President Barack Obama, grew interested in LOVELAND's mission and hired them to map every property in the Motor City. LOVELAND Technologies has since developed into a team of employees located throughout Detroit, Michigan and the San Francisco Bay Area. The company's aim is simple; to put America online, "parcel by parcel." An app called “Blexting” gives the public a medium through which to record and publish information and photos regarding abandoned properties, while the more recent "Site Control" gives people the opportunity to create their own custom maps on Loveland Technologies through personal accounts at $30 monthly and group accounts at $10,000 yearly. Allowing the public to have access to information regarding tax foreclosures and blight that is often withheld by the government opens up the playing field to authorities and investors. The power to research and gain a deeper understanding of the planning and development that may be needed for a parcel is readily available at LOVELAND online. LOVELAND promotes the belief that giving the public the tools to become more informed is key to finding a solution for Detroit's blight. As the company propels itself further into action, we're hoping they're right.
The curators of the 2016 US Pavilion at the 15th Venice Architecture Biennale have announced an open call for proposals for the exhibition The Architectural Imagination. They are looking for speculative projects that use Detroit as a testing ground for new modes of urbanism that could have application around the world. Curators Cynthia Davidson and Monica Ponce de Leon will commission twelve visionary U.S. architectural practices to produce new work that addresses 21st century urbanism. They are looking for “design excellence, innovative speculative thinking, and architectural expertise in built and/or unbuilt work.” For more information on how to submit, click here.
The implosion of an historic Detroit hotel on Saturday helped clear the way for a $650 million hockey arena that developers say will more than pay for itself in economic ripple effects, but critics see the demolition as the latest casualty of an ill-conceived scheme receiving public financing. The Red Wings will skate in a new arena slated to open in September 2017, the team and owner Mike Ilitch announced last year with splashy renderings and a pledge to "stabilize and develop dozens of underutilized blocks, create more jobs more quickly, and allow the city to spend public funds on other priorities.” But coming just weeks after Detroit became the largest city to declare bankruptcy in U.S. history, the Red Wings' management came under fire for their plan to use $283 million in public money (mostly in the form of tax increment financing). Vacant since 2003, the 13-story Park Avenue Hotel apparently stood in the way of the new arena's loading dock. Designed by Louis Kamper and completed in 1924, the Park Avenue Hotel was demolished over the weekend, its collapse captured in the drone video above. Since its glory days as a symbol of glitz in ascendant Detroit, the hotel had become a senior housing center and later a rehab facility. Locals gathered to bid the building farewell, reports the Detroit Free-Press. Meanwhile the public financing of arenas including the Red Wings' has sparked debate about whether wealthy private interests need such incentives from cash-strapped municipalities and states. The same day Detroit leveled the Park Avenue Hotel, late-night comedian John Oliver ridiculed the taxpayer funding of sports arenas on HBO, calling out the Red Wings and Ilitch in particular. The Red Wings responded today with a statement, saying "This project is about so much more than a world-class sports and entertainment arena; it's about transforming a core part of our city for the benefit of the entire community.” They did not, however, address Oliver's disdain for Little Caesars pizza, which Ilitch founded.
Detroit's Public Lighting Authority is bringing light back to some dim city neighborhoods, which have been expecting new LED streetlights by the end of the year. As the Detroit News reports, that plan is ahead of schedule. All 40,000 LEDs should be in place by the end of July. Installations are occurring in every zip code of the city, making the construction an especially wide-reaching task. Their next job will be relighting Detroit's major streets and highways, including Michigan, Fort, Gratiot, Grand River, and Jefferson streets. That work, scheduled to begin next month, is planned to wrap up by the end of 2016. The Detroit News interviewed Detroit Police Officer Jennifer Moreno, who credits the new efficient lighting with helping to reduce crime. But the future's not entirely bright:
Odis Jones, executive director of Public Lighting Authority of Detroit, said streetlights are being vandalized in some areas. The authority, he said, has been monitoring the incidents and working closely with police. “Any major city is going to experience some of that, so we’re no different,” he said. “Unfortunately, there are still some businesses that don’t enjoy operating in light.”
BREAKING: Davidson and Ponce de Leon to Curate the U.S. Pavilion Exhibition in the 15th International Architecture Biennale in Venice
Call it the Floating City meets Motor City. The U.S. Department of State selected the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Michigan to organize the exhibition of the United States Pavilion in the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale. Curators Cynthia Davidson and Monica Ponce de Leon take Detroit as their starting point. Out of the ashes of Motown and Ford comes an urban archetype that provokes the exhibition title: “The Architectural Imagination.” Much has been made of Detroit’s “ruin porn” and the pervasive blight that has transformed the city from a dense urban fabric to a patchwork. In Venice, “The Architectural Imagination” will present new ideas for sites in Detroit that ultimately have global application, each developed and explored by a select architectural team. As such, the city, which comes with a narrative of the hopes and fears of twentieth century urban America, might prove the model for a creative, resilient, and sustainable 21st century city. “Historically Detroit has been a place of invention from the Kahn brothers to Motown to techno,” explained Davidson. She noted that the city is a site of American ingenuity applicable to many cities, however underscored architecture as the critical component. “Architecture itself has an important role to contribute to any city through form,” she continued. “We should be speaking through architectural form not just urbanism. Detroit is a laboratory for rethinking typologies.” The organizers are forming a committee of advisors to select four sites in Detroit. A call for participant portfolios open to U.S. citizens and residents will go out in a couple of weeks, said Davidson. Davidson is executive director of the nonprofit Anyone Corporation, based in New York City, and editor of the international architecture journal, Log. Ponce de Leon, recently named next dean of Princeton University School of Architecture, is currently the dean of the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Michigan and principal of MPdL Studio.
When the Future had Fins: American Automotive Designs and Concepts, 1959-1973 Christopher West Mount Gallery, Pacific Design Center 8687 Melrose Avenue, West Hollywood, CA Through May 20 Once upon a time the American car industry was king. Nothing captures the prestige, aspirations, and mythology of Detroit’s heyday quite like the working sketches and drawings used to develop and promote the land boats we used to call automobiles. A new show at Christopher W. Mount Gallery focuses on sketches from designers at the “Big Three”—General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler—from 1959 to 1973, when those companies were as important as Google, Apple, and Facebook. The sleek, colorful cars with their dynamic angles and large hoods capture the sexiness and muscle that is long gone in today’s car culture. Visionaries like Ford’s John Samsen and GM’s Bill Michalak had a mastery and an expressive craftsmanship on paper that is far removed from the digitized and sanitized world of 21st century rendering.
Portland still dominates the American Community Survey ranking the 70 largest cities with the highest share of bike commuters, but the list shakes up some preconceptions when you count which cities had the largest growth in the share of bicycle commuters from 2000 to 2013. The League of American Bicyclists runs the numbers every year, pulling data from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey. This year's bike culture report card, as it were, has Portland, Washington, San Francisco, Minneapolis, and New Orleans topping its list of bicycle commuters as a percentage of total population. In total 13 cities report more than 2 percent of their population biking to and from work. Growth in that number is more startling. They're small overall numbers, perhaps inflating the percent change figure, but the growth since 1990 for eight cities is over 100 percent. The following cities had the largest growth in the share of bicycle commuters from 2000 to 2013:
Today, AN reported on Detroit's lone house designed by architect Paul Rudolph called the Parcells House. According to our article, "The waterfront home faces Lake Saint Clair and was designed to give waterfront views to almost every room. As the home sits on a lot at the end of a cul-de-sac where heavy plantings and trees cover the driveway and maintain privacy, it is, for the most part, only viewable by boat." Check out a slideshow of the inside and outside of the house below and be sure to learn more about the property, currently on the market, over here.
Detroit’s Michigan Theatre remains iconic, but not for the reasons that made it so during its early 20th century heyday. Now the opulent 1926 concert hall holds parked cars instead of theater-goers. Will it remain a symbol of Detroit’s struggle to recover from long-term disinvestment, or could it become emblematic of the city’s resilience? This week ArchDaily looked at what might become of "Detroit's most remarkable ruin" in an article that was also published on The Huffington Post. Last month, wrote Kate Abbey-Lambertz, the building was pulled from public auction and was purchased by developers Boydell Group for an undisclosed amount. Though its infamous use as a parking garage has grabbed headlines (and its crumbling beauty served as a backdrop in Eminem’s 8 Mile), the building still hosts events. Just this weekend a skateboarding competition and concert took over the space. (One band's bassist knocked an event photographer's drone down with a beer can.) But what would it take to turn the Michigan Theatre into something more permanent than a makeshift rock club? Wondered ArchDaily:
Will it ever again look like it did in 1926? Probably not, but that doesn’t mean it won’t have a vibrant future. “Creative destruction is very much a part of our history,” [Preservation Detroit’s executive director Claire] Nowak-Boyd said, “and is perhaps more central to our story than that of any other American city… This site encapsulates that.”Another symbol of Detroit’s bygone glory days recently got a second look from designers. A "Reanimate the Ruins" competition envisioned a brighter future for the massive Packard Plant site.
In 2009, vandals pushed a dump truck through a hole in the wall on the fourth story of the abandoned Packard Automotive Plant in Detroit. (Of course there’s a video.) It’s a level of dereliction and decay that’s frankly common to North America’s foremost basket-case city, but it’s made a bit more poignant by the fact that the plant (built in 1907 and closed in the late '90s) was once an icon of Detroit’s command over automotive technology and the automotive industry. The 3.5-million-square-foot facility was designed by Albert Kahn to produce luxury cars, and was the first of its type to use a reinforced concrete structure. But now it’s time for some more creative thinking about how to use the Packard site, beyond inventive ways to project giant pieces of refuse out of windows. As such, Parallel Projections released the winners of an ideas competition to adaptively reuse the site on Friday. The competition (the first one Parallel Projections has hosted) garnered 200 entries from 30 countries. The three winners received $3,000, $2,000, and $1,000, respectively, and six Honorable Mentions were named. Called Reanimate the Ruins, Parallel Projections founder Kyle Beneventi said that, beyond adding another chapter to the history of a building that’s forced the carry the symbolic weight of the city’s struggles, he wants the competition to show how design can address social and economic problems. “We hope to act as a catalyst, and put these ideas in front of decision-makers to raise awareness about how design can address these issues,” he said. The site is currently owned by Peru-based developer Fernando Palazuelo, who has his own plans for the site, though Beneventi says proposals from the ideas competition can be complimentary to his efforts, and that he’s been working with Palazuelo’s company, Arte Express. The competition winners range from pragmatic land-use proposals to loose thought experiments. The winners are: 1st Place Cross the Plant by Vincent Lavergne is based on one simple programmatic shift: Turn much of the factory into housing, provide financial incentives for residents in unsustainably depopulated neighborhoods to move in, thus freeing up more land for urban agriculture. 2nd Place The Packard Belt by Javier Galindo crisscrosses the plant with a car-path belt, inspired by automotive engine belts. It’s a slow, nostalgic ride through Detroit history—a sort of a linear museum you experience while driving. 3rd Place Ecological Engineering Center Detroit by Toni Yli-Suvanto installs a waste recycling, urban agriculture, and power generation facility on the site. Sewage treatment yields biogas, power is harvested from the sun, hydroponic plants are grown, and water is recycled. Honorable Mention Higher Calling: A Spiritual Mycoremediation Corridor for Detroit by Tak Stewart, Arnulfo Ramirez, and Giselle Altea recruits monks to remediate the site’s polluted soil with mushrooms via mycoremediation, using fungi to degrade or absorb contaminants. Honorable Mention Packard City by Bastian Gerner and Pola Rebecca Koch is an open-ended series of templates for ways to repurpose the factory’s buildings. Honorable Mention Urban Paradox: Architectural Iteration to Paranoiac Tensions by Chun Shing Tsui develops a hub for Detroit’s newest, saddest industry: scrap metal recovery. In an effort to tempt car companies back to the city of Detroit, this design proposes an organ that aids the city in cannibalizing itself. Honorable Mention Packard [Model D]etroit by Dominic Walbridge, Michael Miller, and Yan Ding divides the site into light manufacturing and fabrication areas, office space, a museum, and leisure and retail space. Honorable Mention Hollow Ground: Reconceiving Packard as an Urban Archipelago by Samaa Elimam and James Leng begins by renovating the site’s most recognizable buildings and converting them with strong geometric shapes into education and cultural spaces. Honorable Mention Augmented Chassis by Jason Butz and Akshita Sivakumar augments the physical infrastructure of the factory with smart-phone enabled “augmented reality” applications that overlay historical imagery as well as potential future renovations into museum and exhibition spaces.