Posts tagged with "Detroit":

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Illuminating Detroit: 40,000 LEDs are installed ahead of schedule

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.”
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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.
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On View> When the Future had Fins: American Automotive Designs and Concepts, 1959-1973

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. _DSC3420-copy 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.
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Pittsburgh, Washington, Buffalo lead nation in growth of bicycle commuters

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:
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Pictorial> Take a tour of Paul Rudolph’s only house in Detroit

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.
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Detroit’s infamous theater-turned-parking garage sold at auction

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.
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Detroit “Reanimate the Ruins” Ideas Competition Tackles Historic Packard Automotive Plant

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.
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Letter to the Editor> Motor City Mouthful

[Editor's Note: The following comment was left on archpaper.com in response to the editorial “Motoring Toward Destruction?” (AN 08_06.05.2014), which parsed the wisdom of Detroit’s blight removal program.Opinions expressed in letters to the editor do not necessarily reflect the opinions or sentiments of the newspaper. AN welcomes reader letters, which could appear in our regional print editions. To share your opinion, please email editor@archpaper.com. ] I’m failing to find a thesis in here, other than wholesale demolition = bad, which is something we’re well aware of. Other considerations that weren’t even mentioned in this are aspects of public safety (arson and the use of dilapidated structures in which to commit crimes, peddle drugs, etc.) and the question of revenue (clearing blighted structures for redevelopment). The article even mentions that of the 80,000 blighted structures, we’re attempting to save more than half. I further take issue with some of the language in here. “In its panic to save itself…” There are issues here, the scope and depth of which are truly terrible. I’d love to have the author come to Detroit so we could show him some of what, as he puts it, we’re so panicked about. Mac Farr Data and Financial Manager City of Detroit
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Detroit doubles down on startups and young creatives with new “innovation district”

As Detroit nears the one year anniversary of the largest municipal bankruptcy filing in U.S. history, creative professionals in a busy downtown corridor are the target of a Washington, D.C.–funded “innovation district" that hopes startups will rev Detroit's stalled economic engine. Bruce Katz and Jennifer Bradley's book for the Brookings Institution, The Metropolitan Revolution argued that since Congress is frozen, cities must save themselves. In a follow up report, the authors argued for the creation of “innovation districts” to encourage startups and business incubators. Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan last month announced the city’s first such district would comprise a stretch of Woodward Avenue from the riverfront to New Center. The area has previously been branded a “creative corridor,” and already enjoys a growing startup culture—most of it formed organically. So what will the new designation change? Perhaps nothing by itself. But as Crain's Detroit Business reported, clusters of young professionals are happy to have the spotlight:
"The thing we have realized is that we actually have districts within this creative corridor geography," said Matt Clayson, director of DC3, a partnership between the College of Creative Studies and Business Leaders for Michigan. "There is a certain density of creative practioners [sic] that we did not have four years ago. That's a good 1,100 creative workers. Four years ago, no." … When Patrick Thompson was looking to open his interior design studio — which is well known for designing the Detroit Institute of Arts' Kresge Court — he was interested in being in Midtown. He didn't realize there was a creative cluster forming, but he liked the activity on the street and wanted to be around other design businesses. So when a first floor retail spot in The Auburn building opened, he moved in last summer. "As a landmark alone, it's been great," he said. "Everyone is starting to know this area. It's a pretty high-profile area, so it's been beneficial for our business being there."
The three clusters with the most activity at the moment, writes Amy Haimerl for Crain's, are around Grand Circus Park, near Cass and Canfield Streets, and near DC3 and TechTown Detroit in the city’s New Center neighborhood. Mayor Duggan convened a 17-person panel to chart more innovation clusters around the future and help guide growth in existing creative communities. As must be noted with any story of rebirth in Detroit, the city’s challenges are beyond the ability of any one intervention to overcome. But “innovation districts” are far from the only solution proposed for Detroit’s problems. Immigration reform, perhaps tied to a special city-specific Visa, has been touted as a potential shot in the arm for the struggling city. And transit improvements, especially along Woodward Avenue—which now has national attention—are a long time coming.
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Frustrated transit advocates blast ballot delay by Detroit’s Regional Transit Agency

detroit_light_rail_01 Detroiters have heard before that the Motor City could see better mass transit as soon as 2015. Local and state leaders came together in 2012 to form the area’s first regional transit agency (RTA), but Streetsblog reported locals are losing patience with Michigan’s newest RTA. detroit_light_rail_02 While waiting times for buses drag on, frustration grows. The RTA recommended holding off on a ballot measure for another two years, prompting a protest march from transit advocates. They marched from the Rosa Parks Transit Center to the board’s meeting place at 1001 Woodward, one of many Rock Ventures developments in the region (Read a Q&A with Rock Ventures real estate chief Jim Ketai here). We Are Mode Shift reported even members of the RTA are losing faith:
Larry Dilworth, a member of the board’s Community’s Advisory Committee and the disabilities advocacy group Warriors on Wheels, told board members he had considered stepping down from his position with the CAC due to doubts about the RTA’s short-term effectiveness.
RTA’s chief executive John Hertel resigned in January in part because of concerns about funding stability—a problem that still plagues transit efforts in a region with a long history of sprawl, segregation, and steep financial challenges. Detroit’s light rail project, the Woodward Light Rail Line, got a boost last year from former U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in the form of $25 million in federal TIGER funding. The 3-mile long light rail system along Woodward Avenue would include 11 stops running from the city’s downtown to New Center.
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Revive two Detroit viaducts in this Michigander-only contest

A nonprofit in Detroit is calling on artists and designers “to breathe new life into the historical viaducts at Second and Cass Avenue in Midtown.” In partnership with the New Economy Initiative, Midtown Detroit, Inc. will sponsor public art and light installations in the TechTown District of Midtown Detroit. Accepted proposals win $75,000 per viaduct. The deadline to apply is Wednesday, April 30. Applicants can propose interventions for one or both viaducts. Apply here. The two viaducts, located between Baltimore and Amsterdam Streets in TechTown, were fully operational railroad bridge grade separations. Originally constructed in 1934, they’ve fallen into disrepair. While Detroit’s been happy for international design attention in recent years, this competition has a residency requirement. It’s open to “all professional artists, architects, designers, design firms and/or teams consisting of these entities located in the following eight southeast Michigan counties:  Genesee, Lapeer, Livingston, Macomb, Oakland, St. Clair, Washtenaw and Wayne.” Non-residents can join a design team as long as the project lead can prove physical residency in southeast Michigan. Read the full list of guidelines here.
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Ten Roads Whose Time Has Come: Congress for the New Urbanism Releases List of Freeways Ripe for Removal

highways_to_boulevards_2 The Congress for the New Urbanism has released their annual list of Freeways Without Futures. The organization selected the top 10 urban American (and one Canadian) highways most in need of removal. The final list was culled from nominations from more than 50 cities. Criteria for inclusion included age of the freeway, the potential that removal would have to positively effect the areas where the roadways are currently situated, and the amount of momentum to realize such removals. Additionally the CNU highlighted campaigns in Dallas, the Bronx, Pasadena, Buffalo, and Niagra Falls, that are taking significant steps towards removing freeways (some of which have been included in past lists) as illustrations of broader institutional and political shifts on urban infrastructural thinking. I-10/Claiborne Overpass - New Orleans The already aging Interstate 10 was heavily damaged in 2005 during Hurricane Katrina. The Unified New Orleans Plan (UNOP) suggested that the removal of the elevated portion of the highway would allow for the reclamation of 35 to 40 city blocks and 20 to 25 blocks of open space. With the help of public engagement Livable Claiborne Communities outlined a plan for a similar removal that would improve living conditions in the neighborhood in the immediate vicinity of the expressway. I-81 - Syracuse This road, including an elevated portion that runs through downtown Syracuse, was built in the 60's. Advocates for the transformation of the most urban portion of the freeway could be replaced by a boulevard that would connect neighborhoods, inject economic activity into the area, and be cheaper to maintain. Numerous local politicians have spoken in favor of such a plan and the Syracuse Metropolitan Transportation Council and the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) co-led the I-81 Challenge to examine traffic patterns and alternatives to the current state of the highway. Gardiner Expressway - Toronto Unpopular with local citizens, the overworked Expressway requires more than $10 million annually in repairs. Recently, the City of Toronto and WATERFRONToronto finished work on the Gardiner Expressway & Lake Shore Boulevard Reconfiguration Environmental Assessment & Urban Design Study which will dictate the future of the portion of the Gardiner overlooking Lake Ontario. Route 5/Skyway - Buffalo The Skyway Bridge and Route 5 mar public views of the Buffalo River, diminish land values, and create a web of confusing traffic patterns predicated on inefficient one-way streets. The Department of Transportation rates the Skyway bridge as "fracture critical" while the Federal Highway Administration classifies the bridge as "functionally obsolete." It is likely to cost more than $50 million to maintain over the next two decades. Inner Loop - Rochester The Loop was built for the city Rochester once was, rather than the shrunken metropolis that stands today. For this reason much of the beltway carries traffic that could easily be carried by a urban avenue. Furthermore it constricts the downtown area, inhibiting development and isolating adjacent neighborhoods. In 2012 the city was awarded a USDOT TIGER grant to replace the eastern portion of the Loop with a two lane boulevard flanked by street parking. I-70 - St. Louis I-70 separates the city from the waterfront of the Mississippi River and Saarinen's iconic arch. Calls for bridging this divide by converting the expressway into an urban boulevard have been long simmering. Park Over The Highway is a $380 million project for a park and pedestrian and bike path that leaps I-70 in connecting the city to the area abutting the river. I-280 - San Francisco Meant to be part of a larger web of freeways that was ultimately halted by mid-century protests, the removal of this highway stub would increase the land values of the area by $80 million according to a report by Fourth and King Street Railyards. Replacing the strip with a urban boulevard would open the area for further redevelopment and allow for greater fluidity between neighborhoods. The city's Center for Architecture + Design has hosted a design competition for such a project. I-375 - Detroit This 1.06 mile strip served to divide portions of the city and contributed to the isolation and subsequent decay of once thriving black neighborhoods. Detroit's drop in population has lead to a 13% decrease in usage since 2009. In December of 2013, Detroit's Downtown Development Authority moved forward with alternative plans for the highway, with particular focus on converting the road into a more pedestrian-friendly thoroughfare. Terminal Island Freeway - Long Beach As it stands the freeway currently serves a mere 14,000 vehicles a day, numbers that could drop further if plans to expand the Intermodal Container Transfer Facility come to fruition, a development that would redirect significant freight traffic in the area. Local nonprofit urban design studio City Fabrick have spear-headed a movement to convert the road into a greenbelt that would act as a buffer between residential districts and industrial port infrastructure. In 2013 the plan was awarded a Caltrans grant. Aetna Viaduct - Hartford This 3/4 mile stretch of elevated expressway was completed in 1965. In running directly through downtown Hartford the Viaduct destroyed historic architecture, public spaces, and severed inter-community links once easily traversed by foot. Initially set for costly re-surfacing that would increase its lifespan by 20 years, new plans are being considered for the heavily-trafficked road. Hartford officials and Capitol Region Council of Governments (CRCOG) are currently considering plans to re-align nearby rail tracks that would open 15-20 acres of nearby land for redevelopment.