Posts tagged with "Detroit":

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Wayne State University breaks ground on new business school

Detroit’s Wayne State University has broken ground on the Mike Ilitch School of Business. The new building was designed by Detroit-based SmithGroupJJR, and is named after the Little Caesars founder Mike Ilitch. The school will be part of The District Detroit, a multi-block entertainment district which includes the under-construction Little Caesars Arena. When completed the school will house 3,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The new building includes open collaboration space, student support facilities, a conference learning center, classrooms, lab space, and faculty offices. “We’ve already seen a boost in applications as a result of the gift announcement last fall, as prospective students recognize the opportunity that comes from studying in an innovative environment and location like this,” remarked Robert Forsythe, Dean of the Mike Ilitch School of Business. The genesis of the new school was a gift of $40 million from Mike and Marian Ilitch. The gift is the largest Wayne State has ever received, and is in the top ten for largest gifts to any public business school in the United States. Along with the Ilitch family’s philanthropic investments in Detroit, the family has an estimated $2 billion of investments in downtown Detroit buildings. These include the Little Caesars Area and a recently announced headquarters for Little Caesars, also designed by SmithGroupJJR.
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Detroit mayor live-streams 10,000th demolition

Mayor Mike Duggan took to social media to live stream the demolition of the 10,000th abandoned house in Detroit since the city started its current blight removal program. Along with remarks from the Mayor, the District 1 Manager Stephanie Young, and other community leaders, the video shows a house being razed in a matter of minutes by a large backhoe. The wood frame house was located on Marlowe St. in District 1 on Detroit’s far west side. “It’s been an incredible learning process,” Mayor Duggan remarked in the video. “But nobody in America has begun to try to address blight at the rate we have.” As part of the city’s program to rid itself of tens of thousands of empty structures, a new website tracks and maps every demolition planned and carried out. According to the mayor, 5,000 houses are planned to be demolished in 2016, with 7,000 more planned to be by the end of 2017. The final goal of the city is to demolish 40,000 structures in an eight-year period. https://www.facebook.com/MayorMikeDuggan/videos/572386339589052/ The Mayor was also quick to point out that some 2,000 houses are currently being renovated in Detroit, a sign that value is returning to many communities.  Commenting at the event Jason Cole Executive Director Michigan Minority Contractors Association discussed plans to rehab 1,000 more houses, and the possibility of building 10,000 more new units. Much of the discussion also touched on the safety concerns surrounding abandoned properties. With thinly stretched fire and police departments, arson and crime in abandoned houses is a major issue in Detroit. The mayor answered questions about the effect of the demolitions, pointing out a 25% decrease in building fires over the last year. https://www.facebook.com/MayorMikeDuggan/videos/572399202921099/ The City wasted no time and continued onto the 10,001 demolition two doors down. https://www.facebook.com/MayorMikeDuggan/videos/572408446253508/
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Help save this folk art landmark in the middle of Detroit

Hatch Art has launched a crowd-funding campaign to save a quirky and kinetic piece of folk art in their hometown of Hamtramck, Michigan, a city of a little over 20,000 surrounded by the city of Detroit. The non-profit art organization is raising $50,000 for a comprehensive renovation of the site. Formerly the home of Dymtro Szylak, an auto-worker turned sculpture artist, was affectionately nicknamed “Hamtramck Disneyland” for its bright colors, lights, and eclectic collection of pop-culture iconography. Szylak worked on the installation above his garage for thirty years, from his retirement from General Motors until his death in 2015. The project is adorned with images of Disney characters and painted in bright colors inspired by its namesake theme park. Syzlak assembled everything by hand, including colorful windmills and other moving sculptures. Part of the charm of Hamtramck Disneyland is its unlikely location, in a residential neighborhood of a relatively unknown city. Hamtramck was a hotspot for European immigrants like Syzlak, who came to the United States from Ukraine. The sculpture was initially unpopular with Syzlak’s neighbors and the city council, but thousands of tourists have since made the pilgrimage to Hamtramck and were often greeted by the artist himself. Hatch Art purchased the property in May 2016 to preserve Hamtramck Disneyland as a folk art landmark. A group of volunteers is currently working to make critical structural repairs to the site, and to rewire and replace the mechanical parts and lights that bring the sculpture to life. They also plan to retrofit the interiors of the garages into a public art space and an artist’s studio. The crowd-funding campaign seeks to raise $50,000 by August 20, which will be matched by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and the Michigan State Development Authority for a total of $100,000 if the campaign is successful. Hatch Art is also looking for volunteers to help with the restoration.
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L.A.-based Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects may be opening Detroit office

After announcing two Detroit-based projects in the last month—Olayami Dabls’s MBAD African Bead Museum and four corner buildings in the Brush Park revitalization districtLorcan O’Herlihy Architects (LOHA) is bringing a bit of the Sunset Strip to Detroit Rock City. But is the 26-year-old L.A. firm setting its sights on even greener pastures and considering a Midwest outpost? Sources indicate that LOHA recently signed a lease in the historic Chrysler House in downtown Detroit. So get ready, Rock City, things are about to get a little sandy.

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Little Caesars releases renderings of new Detroit headquarters

Downtown Detroit is getting its first new corporate headquarters building in nearly 15 years. The Detroit-based Little Caesars pizza company has released the first renderings of their planned 234,000-square-foot headquarters. The Little Caesars Global Resource Center will be the new home of approximately 700 employees. Located across the street from the company’s current headquarters, the buildings will be connected with a 7th-floor skywalk. The project will be one of the first to be built as part of $1.3 billion The District Detroit development. The District Detroit is centered on the under-construction Little Caesars Arena, the future home of the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings hockey team. The Ilitch family, founders of Little Caesars, are heavily involved with the development and own much of the land it will be built on. The defining feature of the new headquarters will be a triangulated mullionless facade. The Detroit-based SmithGroupJJR designed the 120 glass panels to echo the shape of the company’s main product, as well as provide unobstructed views in and out of the building. Each glass panel will be 14 feet tall and comprised of two inches of laminated glass. The building will hold collaborative workspaces, informal meeting rooms, and a cafe for workers. The ground floor will include a two-story lobby and a new welcome center. The street front will also have a flagship Little Caesars and other retail. A fitness center and 425-seat training room are also planned for the building. The Resource Center will function as the company’s headquarters as well as a training and research facility. Originally announced in 2014, construction is expected to begin this summer, which a move in date of fall 2017.        
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Detroit launches interactive demolition map

The City of Detroit has launched an interactive map of past and future demolitions throughout the city. The site was launched in the interest of transparency as the city plans to demolish 40,000 structures over an eight year period. Specifically, the Detroit Demolition Tracker maps demolitions since 2014 and those buildings that have been contracted to be demolished. Since 2014 9,591 structures have been demolished and 2,047 are planned for 2016. At an average cost of $12,269 for each residential demolition, the city has awarded more than $90 million in contracts to local demolition companies. The tracker is a continuation of an overhaul of the city’s demolition program, which was launched in 2014. The goal of the overhaul was to streamline the demolition process, hold contractors accountable for their work, and protect the public from the environmental hazards involved with demolition. A task force, working with government regulators, introduced regulations for contractors, hired watchdogs to monitor the program, and started a campaign to inform residents about potential hazards produced by building demolition. Now home owners are notified before houses on their block are demolished and they are instructed to stay indoors and close doors and windows if possible. Additionally, an epidemiologist within the city’s Department of Health and Welfare is tracking elevated blood-lead levels in children and respiratory hospitalizations often associated with asbestos and demolition dust. Since the overhaul, the EPA has recognized the city’s environmental standards, stating, “Detroit’s new demolition practices balance speed, cost and environmental performance.” Under the new program the estimated time to demolish a planned 40,000 structures has been shortened from 30 years to just 8 years. Most of the demolition in the city is federally subsidized by the Hardest Hit Fund (HHF). Demolitions using the HHF can only be used within federally-designated areas throughout the city. The interactive map outlines these areas, as well as the Nuisance Abatement Program (NAP) boundaries. The NAP areas are where the city has taken legal action against owners of vacant structures. Owners of distressed properties are given the option to either improve the property within six months or transfer the property to the Detroit Land Bank Authority (DLBA). Money from the HHF can only be used on houses owned by the DLBA. Each entry on the interactive map includes the address, demolition contractor, projected demolition date, and price. This transparency is a key part of the city’s attempt to save money through accountability, and ensure the safety of residents
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Brush Park, Detroit in line for major urban development

Los Angeles-based studio, Lorcan O'Herlihy Architects (LOHA) are designing a major complex in Brush Park, Detroit for Brush Park Development Company. (Billionaire Dan Gilbert's Bedrock Real Estate Services are the driving force behind Brush Park). Totaling 210,00 square foot, the scheme comprises four lots where a combination of residential and mixed-use buildings will be constructed. The development also includes Boston-based Merge Architects, Chicago-based Studio Dwell, and Detroit-based Hamilton Anderson Associates. The city, which was the focal point of the U.S. pavilion at this year's Venice Biennale, has been the subject of urban regeneration plans within many circles of the architecture and development industry. Located just outside of Downtown, Brush Park would see four developments of 134 unit multifamily housing units total and ground floor retail erected on the site. In May this year, AN reported on how Detroit planning authorities had originally called for 500 mix-income units (40 units per acre) that would  respect the history of the area and “the rich African-American heritage in the city.” According to LOHA, their scheme is part of the "city’s largest residential project in decades." Their four buildings will sit on four block corners in the neighborhood offering housing, retail, dining, and various community amenities. The scheme forms part of a wider development that will encompass town homes, duplexes, carriage homes, and further apartments along with public transport connections. LOHA's scheme aims to compliment Brush Park's low-rise and historical suburban scene while increasing density within the area. This is achieved through staggered massing that tightens the proximity of dwellings but on a scale that doesn't overtly dominate the site. Buildings will also be clad in local materials such as brick, metal, and wood while each will retain a sense of individuality. Aside from addressing urban problems, communal and ecological issues are also on LOHA's agenda. Public gardens (a tradition in Detroit) will be placed on rooftops looking onto the streetscape and also double-up as places for rainwater collection and bioswales. As for the plots themselves, the Southwest building's envelope will make use of cedar—treated for texture and warmth—and floor-to-ceiling windows that would create an open environment for the retail base. The Northwest building will use charcoal-gray bricks in a stepped formation. On the opposite side, to the Northeast building would be the most visually striking structure. Clad in red metal, the building would add "warmth and color to the otherwise more neutral material backdrop of Brush Park," LOHA explained. The final building in the Southeast corner at the intersection of Brush Street and Alfred Street uses a modulating brick pattern in conjunction with wooden decking to "key into significant folds, formal moves, and unique spaces."
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The RTA rethinks Detroit-area transit in a new $4.6-billion-dollar master plan

The Regional Transit Authority (RTA) of Southeast Michigan claims that public transit for Detroit and surrounding suburbs could be available for the low, low price of $95 per household. The RTA has unveiled a $4.6 billion master plan for transit in the four-county region in advance of a November vote on a 20-year, 1.2 million property tax millage. If approved, the millage would raise $150 million per year and cost the owner of a house with an assessed value of $78,856 (the southeast Michigan average) less than $100 annually. The plan is expected to generate $6 billion in economic development for the region while serving the region's 4.5 million residents. https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=3&v=dsGK8oeYoEI The revenue will go towards funding commuter rail, express transit to Detroit Metro Airport (as early as next year), bus rapid transit, and expanding commuting options for the elderly and disabled. A key objective of the project is unifying five regional transit systems (AAATA, DDOT, DTC, M-1 Rail, and SMART) to achieve these goals. Before BEST: Regional Master Transit Plan can go to voters, the RTA needs to formally approve it at its board meeting in late July, the Detroit Free Press reports. "Southeast Michigan is the only major urban area in the country without a viable, coordinated public transit system. If we are going to be competitive in a 21st-century global economy, developing a transit system that meets the needs of a changing world is absolutely essential," RTA chair Paul Hillegonds said in a press release. Most local service upgrades would go into effect within five years, while bus rapid transit and commuter rail would be implemented between 2022 and 2026. The full timeline of improvements and additions can be found here.
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Lorcan O’Herlihy reveals plans for Olayami Dabls’s MBAD African Bead Museum in Detroit

Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects (LOHA) has released renderings for their proposed renovations and expansions to the studio and museum created by celebrated Detroit-based artist Olayami Dabls. The proposal aims to revamp and modernize the mostly ad-hoc MBAD African Bead Museum where Dabls’s signature African bead art is installed. Dabls’s evocative work is installed throughout a mostly vacant block and on the surfaces of several of that block’s remaining homes and shops. The artist uses a palette of what he considers to be universally-understood materials—iron, rocks, wood, and mirrors—to create visually complex sculptures that pay homage to African material culture by exploring the themes of family, ancestry, and community. The installations are the by-product of Dabls’s nearly 50-year-long career during which he has appropriated the vacant and derelict land on this site to host his monumental works. Dabls’s studio is located in what once was a row of townhouses and is now one of the few remaining structures on the block. LOHA’s proposal takes the currently-collapsing roof off of the corner storefront building adjacent to Dabls’s studio and converts that currently-unoccupied structure into a sculpture courtyard and enclosed gallery with new blank surfaces for the artist to work upon. The museum’s entrance will be located between the two structures, adjacent to a new entry garden. The current studio’s collections will be removed and catalogued. The structure will be converted in phases into a bead store, museum administration, and a studio and residence for visiting artists. The remainder of the site is to be re-organized to include walking trails and open space highlighting Dabls’s 18 siteworks. Dabls’s major installations, Iron Teaching Rocks How To Rust and N’Kisi Iron House, will be surrounded by new tree plantings as well as other sculptures. The artist’s African Language Wall, a 50-foot by 20-foot installation located along the wall of a neighboring building, features richly ornamented calligraphy, with words from Africa’s many written languages written across the brick expanse, and is to be the centerpiece of the campus. Dabls’s work, including a selection from his collection of African beads, is currently being exhibited at Henry Taylor’s in Los Angeles, by appointment. Renovations to the museum are being paid for in part by a $100,000 grant from the Knight Foundation and from the proceeds generated by Dabls’s exhibition in Los Angeles.
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Detroit in Venice: The U.S. Pavilion at the Venice Biennale

The United States Pavilion at the 15th Venice Architecture Bienniale, entitled The Architectural Imagination, is opening for its six month run this weekend. Curated by Monica Ponce de Leon and Cynthia Davidson, the pavilion highlights 12 architecture firms speculating on four sites in the city of Detroit. Organized by the University of Michigan, the pavilion takes a focused look at a city that has become a popular topic in urban and architectural conversations. Each of the pavilion’s four rooms is dedicated to one site, with three projects each. The sites include Dequindre Cut/Eastern Market, a triangular city-owned site in Mexicantown, a riverfront site at the US Post Office, and the long abandoned 40 acre Packard Plant. Each office was given free range to define the program and form of there project. Projects ranged from a governmental district focused on refugee immigration by Andew Zago to a material reclamation plant by T+E+A+M. Each office was given a four-foot-by-eight-foot table on which to present two large scale models. Walls behind each model are dedicated to drawings, renderings, and process work. The Offices involved include: A(n) Office, Detroit, Michigan Marcelo López-Dinardi; V. Mitch McEwen BairBalliet, Columbus, Ohio; Chicago, Illinois Kelly Bair; Kristy Balliet Greg Lynn FORM, Los Angeles, California Greg Lynn Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects, Atlanta, Georgia Mack Scogin; Merrill Elam Marshall Brown Projects, Chicago, Illinois Marshall Brown MOS Architects, New York, New York Hilary Sample; Michael Meredith Pita & Bloom, Los Angeles, California Florencia Pita; Jackilin Hah Bloom Present Future, Houston, Texas Albert Pope; Jesús Vassallo Preston Scott Cohen Inc., Boston, Massachusetts Preston Scott Cohen SAA/Stan Allen Architect, New York, New York Stan Allen T+E+A+M, Ann Arbor, Michigan Thom Moran; Ellie Abrons; Adam Fure; Meredith Miller Zago Architecture, Los Angeles, California Andrew Zago; Laura Bouwman
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In Detroit, IdeasCity explores the role of culture in making cities more fair and successful

“We are not here to fix Detroit’s problems. We are here to learn from Detroit. This is a learning platform,” said Joseph Grima. Grima, the director of IdeasCity, a symposium hosted by the New York–based New Museum, sat in a circle flanked by mostly-young artists, activists, and designers in a utility building on the grounds of a shuttered city-owned hospital. For over two hours, the group reacted to the first days of the laboratory, an exhaustive schedule of talks, debates, and tours, to discuss its role in Detroit. A postindustrial hipster summer camp this is not: Participants used the six-day event as a space to discuss the role of culture in making cities more vibrant, equitable spaces.

The latest iteration of IdeasCity included a five-day collaborative laboratory starting on April 25, and concluded with a daylong public conference on April 30. 41 fellows, culled from a global open call, were asked to work in small groups to explore and ruminate on the future of Detroit. Each group was assigned a site to anchor its thinking, although ideas could, and did, bleed beyond cartographic boundaries and into conceptual deliverables. Locals led tours of the sites to help fellows, especially the two-thirds majority not from Detroit, understand the depth of the history that contributes to the city’s present morphology. A stream of regional expert presenters, such as Elysia Borowy-Reeder, executive director of MOCAD and Malik Yakini, executive director of the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network, placed visitors face-to-face with Detroiters to talk about what they love about their hometown and what needs to change.

The culmination of IdeasCity was the conference held at the Jam Handy, an event space in the New Center neighborhood. Opening keynote presentations were delivered by Detroit director of planning and development Maurice Cox, while Chicago-based artists Theaster Gates and Amanda Williams set the tone for the day.

Panel discussions focused on the power and importance of cultural production as a means of urban prosperity. Local experts such as filmmaker-writer dream hampton and community organizer Jenny Lee emphasized the need to change the narrative around what is, and what should be, happening in Detroit. This theme would permeate much of the day, as panelists, presenters, and fellows alike enlightened the crowd on topics often overlooked in the discussion of Detroit.

Fellows brought both knowledge from their home cities and newfound information to their presentations. Multiple groups advocated for the reexamination of current development plans. The first group situated the planned Gordie Howe Bridge to Canada, in terms of air, water, and soil, as it affected Fort Wayne, a Civil War–era site and recreation area in the Delray neighborhood. Fort Wayne is a First Nations burial site, heavily polluted by surrounding industry, but enjoyed for the water access it affords locals. “Having family in the area, I want to make sure that they are not forgotten,” noted fellow Stacy’e Jones, DJ and member of Liquid Flow Media Arts Center.

Another group took a look at the solar panel farm in O‘Shea, arguing that the recently constructed power station, built on former parkland, should have been envisioned as an integrated part of the neighborhood in a dense housing and agricultural mix. "We wanted to make sure we were reaching out to the community. There was a lot of tension in the room. The community was brought in at the very end of this process," explained Taylor Renee Aldridge, Detroiter and co-editor of ARTS.BLACK.

One design-oriented proposal looked at memorializing the spaces of conflict on the site of what is now Mies van der Rohe’s cooperative community, Lafayette Park. Formerly known as Black Bottom, a neighborhood for newly arrived black residents, the area was bulldozed and reset, tabula rasa, for Mies’s modernist project in 1946. “We wanted to recognize Black Bottom, because at this time there is no physical form of memorialization there,” fellow and Detroit writer Marsha Music explained. Against a backdrop of historical images of a thriving, and then destroyed Black Bottom, the group proposed non-affirmative monuments that encourage dialogue around the themes of immaterial culture, the social culture of street life, and the city’s churches. Group member Tommy Haddock observed that housing is what ties people to place, and that themes of belonging and removal can be reflected through the motif of house and home. An architect, Haddock realized some of the group’s ideas in a series of renderings that reference the visual language of Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown.

Other groups addressed less physical ideas. One simply, yet boldly, proclaimed that their project was to return to their respective homes around the world to act as Detroit ambassadors, spreading their newly enlightened views of the city. “Architecture,” explained Paris designer Pinar Demirdag, “isn’t about telling what to build, sometimes it’s about telling what not to build.”

Ryan Myers-Johnson, a dancer and founder of Sidewalk Festival of Performing Arts, noted that “It’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission when working with the City of Detroit.” Her group addressed the interaction of the city government, law enforcement, and non-traditional community-led organizations to propose a special project permit which would streamline the bureaucratic red tape surrounding the approval process for public events.

But what does this all mean for Detroit? There was obvious mutual respect and appreciation between residents and visitors and an atmosphere of profound but critical optimism at the conference and in the days leading up to it. The ambassador group had the most actionable presentation, as they will take their new perspectives back home, hopefully working from within their positions of influence to broaden others’ perceptions of Detroit and similar post-industrial cities.

“Idea” has roots in Greek, idein, meaning “to see.” So perhaps, as Grima stressed, the true point of the event was to see more clearly into the patterns and processes that shape the city. It’s worth noting that IdeasCity chooses “dysfunctional” cities for their forums. This would seem like a trap for offering prescriptive advice, yet  the organizers work diligently to make sure that prescriptions are on the menu, but not the de facto option. Although some groups chose a “problem” and proposed a “solution,” They were presented with enough insider information to dispense careful, thoughtful advice.

September will find Ideas City exploring Athens, where the event’s ethos will once again be put to the test.

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The United States Pavilion designs for Detroit at the Venice Biennale

This year's United States Pavilion at the 15th Venice Architecture Biennale, curated by Cynthia Davidson and Monica Ponce de Leon, will feature 12 offices from across the country. Entitled The Architectural Imagination, the exhibition explores designs for Detroit, Michigan as a space for architectural speculation. Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Michigan was selected to organize the exhibition, which will be open from May 28th through November 27th in Venice Italy. Curators Cynthia Davidson and Monica Ponce de Leon selected the 12 teams of architects from more than 250 submissions. They are: A(n) Office, Detroit, Michigan Marcelo López-Dinardi; V. Mitch McEwen BairBalliet, Columbus, Ohio; Chicago, Illinois Kelly Bair; Kristy Balliet Greg Lynn FORM, Los Angeles, California Greg Lynn Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects, Atlanta, Georgia Mack Scogin; Merrill Elam Marshall Brown Projects, Chicago, Illinois Marshall Brown MOS Architects, New York, New York Hilary Sample; Michael Meredith Pita & Bloom, Los Angeles, California Florencia Pita; Jackilin Hah Bloom Present Future, Houston, Texas Albert Pope; Jesús Vassallo Preston Scott Cohen Inc., Boston, Massachusetts Preston Scott Cohen SAA/Stan Allen Architect, New York, New York Stan Allen T+E+A+M, Ann Arbor, Michigan Thom Moran; Ellie Abrons; Adam Fure; Meredith Miller Zago Architecture, Los Angeles, California Andrew Zago; Laura Bouwman