Posts tagged with "Detroit":

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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
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Detroit’s Brewster-Douglass housing projects move one step closer to redevelopment

The site of Detroit’s former Brewster-Douglass public housing may soon be redeveloped into a massive mixed-use project. A group of developers, including Dan Gilbert’s Bedrock Real Estate Development, has been recommended by a committee composed of the Detroit Planning & Development Department, the city's Housing & Revitalization department, and the Detroit Housing Commission. The recommendation of the development team, known as Choice Detroit, will now go to the City Council. If approved by the city council, the project will be submitted for a federal grant of $30 million as part of the Choice Neighborhoods Grant program. The Brewster-Douglass public housing projects are made up of two sites adjacent to each other in the Brush Park and Eastern Market neighborhoods. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt broke ground for the projects in 1935. Envisioned as housing for the “working poor,” for much of their history one resident per unit needed to be employed. At its height 8,000 to 10,000 residents lived in the Brewster Douglass projects. Many of Detroit’s most notable celebrities once lived in the projects, including Diana Ross and Smokey Robinson. By the 1970’s the buildings had begun to fall in to major disrepair, and by 1991 demolition began on the low-rise portions. Demolition as completed in August, 2014. As reported by the Detroit Free Press, if approved, the Choice Detroit team will develop a master plan that could include affordable housing, park space, new streets, commercial space, community support services, and a federally qualified health center. The city’s original request for qualifications called for 500 mix-income units, 40 units per acre, and respect for the history of the area and "the rich African-American heritage in the city." Dan Gilbert, the founder and CEO of Quicken Loans, and owner of multiple professional sports teams, is behind some of Detroit’s largest developments. These include a new building at the former site of the J.L. Hudson department store in Downtown Detroit. That proposed building is designed by New York-based SHoP. The other members of the Choice Detroit development team include Columbia, Maryland-based developer Enterprise Community Partners, Columbus, Ohio, and Pittsburgh-based KBK Enterprises, and Ginosko Development Co., based in the Detroit suburb of Novi.
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BairBalliet uses novel spatial techniques to speculate on future Detroit development for the Venice Biennale

For this year’s U.S. Pavilion at the 15th Venice Architecture Biennale, 12 teams from across the country were selected to design speculative architecture for Detroit. Entitled the “Architectural Imagination,” the pavilion will focus on presenting urban ideas that could be used around the world. One of the offices chosen is the Columbus, Ohio- and Chicago-based BairBalliet. Comprised of Kelly Bair, an assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Architecture, and Kristy Balliet, an assistant professor at the Knowlton School of Architecture at the Ohio State University, BairBalliet was formed specifically for the biennale. Given a 26-acre site on Detroit’s west side along the Detroit River, near the Corktown neighborhood, BairBalliet set out to produce a project that would connect the neighborhood to the water.

Bair and Balliet also have their own practices, Central Standard Office and Balliet Studio, respectively. The new office has come to develop a larger project: “Originally we joined forces because we saw some similarities in our work, but I also think we have specific things that we work on individually. The more we worked together though, I found that some of Kristy’s work filled in where my project was lacking,” Bair said, also explaining how they were able to work while living in different cities. “We used the Chicago Biennial weekend as a launching point for the project. That weekend was our first of several in-person charrette weekends, filling in with daily conference calls and remote work sessions between visits.”

The duo used an unexpected digital medium to communicate during the initial design: “In the beginning we used GIFs as a means to prepare for collaborative design calls. These would build up a narrative and a visual attitude to which the other could react,” said Bair. The GIFs were collections of stills that were curated and timed to convey a sense of their thoughts about everything from site strategies to formal decisions. Bair and Balliet found that the flickering of animated drawings facilitated a way of seeing the project in which ideas could be combined and reconfigured into completely new strategies.

Part of the design process included meeting with local Detroiters about the chosen site’s future. The team was exposed to the visions of the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, Projects Detroit Future City, and the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation as well as local neighborhood residents. What they took away was a sense of the site’s strong connection to the core of downtown and the evolving adjacent neighborhood as the riverfront continues to develop.

For the design, which will be revealed in Venice, nearby programs, including light-industrial, small-scale residential, and retail, are overlaid with leisure spaces as the project unfolds towards the river. Conceptually, BairBalliet thought of the project as a new port-of-call, a place that is never experienced the same way twice.

BairBalliet’s bas relief and site model, along with other visual media, will be unveiled at the Venice Biennale, opening May 28th. 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. Cynthia Davidson and Monica Ponce de Leon are Co-Curators of the U.S. Pavilion.

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The Detroit Zoo opens Albert Kahn Associates-designed Penguin Habitat

The Detroit Zoo in Royal Oaks, Michigan has built a new home for some of its most discerning residents. The new $30 million Polk Penguin Conservation Center is a state of the art immersive habitat for the zoo’s 80 penguins. At 33,000 square feet, the iceberg-shaped building is the largest penguin conservation center in the world. Designed by Detroit-based Albert Kahn Associates, the center includes a 25-foot-deep, 326,000-gallon aquatic area, in which zoo visitors can view the penguins from two underwater tunnels. The penguin habitat makes up over two thirds of the project. The new aquatic area, which is 10 times the size of their current space, is so large that the penguins can leap out of the water and deep dive. The experience for humans is similarly immersive, including video projections and sound effects simulating an Antarctic Ocean voyage. The zoo is anticipating overwhelming crowds to the new exhibit, so timed-entry passes will be issued on a first-come, first-serve basis at the zoo’s admissions gates. The zoo will also maintain extended hours for the first three weekends the center is open: April 23–24, April 30–May 1, and May 7–8.

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An ad hoc village at Ideas City Detroit

The Studio Laboratory portion of Ideas City Detroit was being held at the shuttered Herman Kiefer Complex over the past week. Closed in 2013, Ideas City fellows used the complex’s utility building as a base for working and living over the five day workshop. At night fellows retired to a series of ad hoc shelters designed in collaboration with the New York-based design office Family New York, based on the OpenStructures principles by Thomas Lommée. The Frence-based Atelier Luma commissioned the specific sleeping pods for Ideas City Detroit as an investigation into nomadic and ad hoc community living space. The small structures are comprised of a flat base, onto which pre-drilled members are attached. Scrap fabric materials including felt, reflective thermal blankets, paper, and light cloth were used to skin each pod. An initial set was constructed in a handful of configurations, and throughout the week more were built to test the flexibility of the system. Fellows commented that the village of pods was been pleasant, though a bit chilly at night in the under-heated building.
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IDEAS CITY Detroit Day 4: What’s the role of the museum in the postindustrial city?

What role can art museums play in revitalizing the postindustrial city? On Day 4 of IDEAS CITY Detroit, Elysia Borowy-Reeder, executive director of the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCaD), spoke with fellows on the role of the museum in catalyzing neighborhood revitalization. Founded by Marsha Miro in 2006, MOCaD sits in a turn-of-the-century former auto dealership off of Woodward in Midtown. Borowy-Reeder expounded on the challenges of running a contemporary art museum with no permanent collection in a "lightly rehabbed" space. "We don’t have proper HVAC, it is a very alternative, raw space. It’s not your typical museum by any stretch.” Pieces with stringent climate control requirements, consequently, cannot be exhibited in the space, but the museum deflects this deficit as an asset by bringing a broad range of Detroiters in to see art and by bringing art out to Detroit. One exterior wall is a mural space with rotating pieces; right now, New York–based artist Andrew Kuo's work graces the facade. The most distinctive outreach component, though, is the Mike Kelley Mobile Homestead, an off-the-rack mobile home that MOCaD uses to take art to the people. Named for a late influential local artist, the first floor is an exact replica of Kelley’s home. When not traveling, the first floor is used as the museum's offices. There are four upcoming spring and summer exhibitions. Artist Carlos Rolón will replicate his grandma's house inside the mobile homestead for an exhibition opening this Sunday. His piece is an homage to his grandmother's life and her Southside Chicago neighborhood: Rolón imported vintage furniture and an extensive macrame collection straight from his grandmother’s living room. (Borowy-Reeder: It was pitched to me as "balls-to-the-walls macrame.”) There will be a pop-up nail salon operating out of the home to service interested clients. Borowy-Reeder mused on the questions that drive her, and MOCaD's work: “How do you activate and expand the vocabulary of art? That’s what I hope MOCaD does. We try to be as much as possible artist-driven, we try to advocate for them internally and externally. Compared to other large institutions, I think we’re very artist-driven."
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AN reports from the creative hub of IDEAS CITY Detroit

When I asked my cab driver, a lifelong Detroiter, to take me to the Herman Kiefer Complex, he cast me look of concern and noted, in the most polite Midwestern way possible: “That place is abandoned. Are you sure you want to go there?” AN is reporting from IDEAS CITY Detroit, an intense six day event hosted by the New Museum that brings together 40 fellows, a cross-disciplinary group of architects, planners, educators, activists, writers, artists, policymakers, and urbanists from the Detroit, the U.S., and beyond to plant a stake in the garden of possibility that flourishes in the Motor City. Fellows live and work in a utility building in the complex, a former hospital, working in teams to generate ideas around four city sites. Throughout the week, speakers like Maurice Cox, Detroit’s planning director, Michael Stone-Richards, cultural theorist, supplement locals-led tours of the city that deliberately avoid "ruin porn" sites like Michigan Central Station. The event culminates in a public conference on April 30, where fellows share their thoughts on visioning the city. On Wednesday, AN sat in on a presentation by Write A House, a nonprofit founded in 2012 that renovates a handful of the city’s 40,000 vacant houses and deeds them to writers for a two-year Detroit residency. Founders Toby Barlow and Sarah Cox lamented the "journalists who fly in for 48 hours without an understanding of problems affecting the city,” Barlow explained. Write A House leverages the human capacity of Detroit by renovating homes in partnership with contractors who teach building skills to under- or un-employed residents. The residents get on-the-job training in carpentry, plumbing, and electrical work: “We see vacant homes as a tremendous positive, Barlow noted. “They are an opportunity to build people’s skills.” Write A House buy homes from the city in on-the-edge neighborhoods, districts that have problems with blight but could be nudged towards a resurgence. It costs around $70,000 to renovate each one- or two-bedroom home; the organization completed their third home last week, and is starting on their fourth soon. Interested writers can apply for a home by submitting their work to a blind panel of practitioners from all genres. Winners are given a deed to the home for two years and are responsible for insurance and taxes. Chicago–based writer Anne Elizabeth Moore is the third recipient of a “writer’s residence.” Writers keen on Detroit will have to wait for applications to open again this year. Stay tuned for more updates from IDEAS CITY this week, and follow AN on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat (as archpaper) for live updates.
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First look at a possible MLS stadium for Downtown Detroit

Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores and Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert have announced their plans to bring a Major League Soccer team to Detroit with the release of initial renderings of a Detroit MLS Stadium and District. Detroit-based ROSSETTI has been commissioned to develop the plan, which includes a 480,000-square-foot, 20,000-seat stadium. Adjoining the stadium will also be a 90,000-square-foot training facility, a 245,000-square-foot podium for commerce and recreation, and four towers containing hotel, residential and office space. “Central to the project’s design is porosity and creating an uninterrupted experience between the public realm and physical buildings. In it, we explore how to unite cities with nature, people with habitats, sports with culture. We endeavor to have all anchor developments facilitating pedestrian movement horizontally and vertically through a ‘green belt’ podium,” said Detroit Native Matt Rossetti, CEO and President of ROSSETTI in a press release on Wednesday. The large podium will connect the entire 8-10 block development with a continuous elevated greenspace which will be open to the public. The project is specifically designed to connect currently separate areas in the center of downtown at Campus Martius with the Eastern Market. ROSSETTI has extensive experience in sports facility building, and has complete five MLS stadiums in the U.S. and abroad. The site is currently an unfinished jail site owned by Wayne County.