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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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.
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."
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.
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.
Skidmore Owings & Merrill have been selected by the Detroit RiverFront Conservancy and the City of Detroit Planning Department to develop a comprehensive plan for the city’s East Riverfront District. Early stages of planning will analyze of the area's current building stock, pedestrian and car circulation, and land use patterns. One of the main early concerns is addressing the link between the city and the river front, a mission championed by the Detroit RiverFront Conservancy for the past decade. Along with SOM, six Michigan firms—Birmingham, MI-based McIntosh Poris, Detroit-based Giffels Webster, Kraemer Design Group, AKT Peerless, Southfield, MI-Based Rich & Associates, and West Bloomfield, MI-Based E. Austell Associates—will provide local consulting. Landscape architect Michel Desvigne will also join SOM for the project. Additionally a “Creative Detroit Think Tank” will be set up by Mohsen Mostafavi, dean of the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. New York-based HR HR&A Advisors will provide real estate, economic development and energy efficiency expertise to the project. SOM was picked from a field of seven teams which presented initial proposals in late January. Those teams were led by New York-based BJH Advisors, Boston-based STOSS Landscape Urbanism, New York-based Partnership for Architecture and Urbanism (PAU), Chicago-based Gensler, and Boston-based Utile. "The selection process reflects our aspirations for promoting the Detroit waterfront as an international treasure," said Maurice Cox, director of the City of Detroit Planning and Development Department in a press release. "We see no better signal of this than assembling an accomplished team representing local, national and international talent." The first public meeting for East Riverfront District plan will be held on April 12th from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Outdoor Adventure Center, 1801 Atwater Street, Detroit. “This project is integrally important to the continued evolution of the Detroit Riverfront,” said William Smith, CFO of the Detroit RiverFront Conservancy in a press release. “And, we’re looking forward to hearing what the community has to say. The community feedback we’ve received in the past helped shape what the riverfront is today. What we learn throughout this process now will shape what the riverfront will become in the future.”
IDEAS CITY has announced the names of 41 International Fellows to participate in an Intensive Studio Laboratory Program during the April 25-30 event in Detroit. Selected from over 800 applicants, the Fellows will work in the Herman Kiefer Complex—a former hospital complex in Virginia Park. The five-day charrette will culminate in a day long public program of presentations and talks. The Fellows are made up of emerging practitioners who are working at the intersection of community activism, art, design, and technology. Director of IDEAS CITY Joseph Grima stated in a press release, “IDEAS CITY Detroit will gather forty-one extraordinary individuals to tackle specific challenges facing the city. We’re incredibly excited to have the opportunity to learn from Detroit, to deploy a collective intelligence model based on arts and culture, and to further exchange with the community. The city is in the process of reinventing itself and, once again, is on the verge of transforming our understanding of the modern metropolis. Detroit is a laboratory for a new paradigm of urbanity.” The Fellows named are Joe Ahearn, Taylor Renee Aldridge, Ava Ansari, Hallie Applebaum, Leonardo Aranda, Nick Axel, Merve Bedir, Francesca Berardi, Beverly Chou, Carolyn Concepcion, Gabriela Córdoba, Afaina de Jong, Pınar Demirdağ, Fataah Dihaan, Shaida Ghomashchi, Jon Gray, Kunal Gupta, Tommy Haddock, Jason Hilgefort, Ekene Ijeoma, Tamara Jafar, Stacy’e Jones, Toms Kokins, Cindy Lin, Monty Luke, Daanish Masood, Tiff Massey, Jose R. Mejia, Cara Michell, Marsha Music, Ryan Myers-Johnson, Claire Nowak-Boyd, Evelina Ozola, Paolo Patelli, Margarita Pournara, Jay Rayford, Unai Reglero, Alethea Rockwell, Ruhi Shamim, Giuditta Vendrame, and Nikolas Ventourakis. The April 30 public event will include the Fellows as well as talks by New York Magazine writer Rembert Browne, Chicago artist Theaster Gates, City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs Commissioner Michelle T. Boone, architect Walter Hood, and artist/architect Amanda Williams, and more. The event will be held at the Jam Handy, a former film studio for car commercials located at 2900 East Grand Boulevard. IDEAS CITY is an international initiative to promote arts and culture as vital parts of healthy future cities. It was co-founded by Lisa Phillips, Toby Devan Lewis Director, and Karen Wong, Deputy Director, the New Museum, and is directed by Joseph Grima. 2016–17 Schedule IDEAS CITY Detroit: April 25–30, 2016 IDEAS CITY Athens: September 19–25, 2016, in partnership with NEON Foundation IDEAS CITY Arles: May 22–27, 2017, presented by the New Museum, LUMA Arles, and LUMA IDEAS CITY New York: Fall 2017 IDEAS CITY Detroit Public Conference Saturday April 30, 2016 The Jam Handy 2900 East Grand Boulevard Detroit, MI 48202 11:15–11:30 AM: Welcome Address by IDEAS CITY, Maurice Cox, and Rembert Browne 11:30 AM–1 PM: Session 1 Opening Keynote by Theaster Gates Talk by Amanda Williams Panel Discussion with Michelle T. Boone, Theaster Gates, Jenny Lee, and Amanda Williams Presentations by Studio Laboratory Fellows 1:30–3 PM: Session 2 Opening Keynote by dream hampton Panel Discussion with Rembert Browne, Halima Cassells, dream hampton, and Sonya S. Mays Presentations by Studio Laboratory Fellows 3:30–7 PM: Session 3 Opening Keynote by Walter Hood Talk by Bryan Boyer Panel Discussion with Kunlé Adeyemi, Bryan Boyer, Ellie Abrons/T+E+A+M, and Walter Hood Presentations by Studio Laboratory Fellows Screening by Liam Young
As a part of Detroit's Wasserman Projects exhibition, Desire Bouncing, a panel discussion addressed the future of architecture and art in Detroit. The panel was moderated by Reed Kroloff, principal of Jones Kroloff and former director of Cranbrook Academy of Art and Art Museum. The panel included exhibiting artist Alex Schweder, associate curator at MoMA's Department of Architecture and Design; Sean Anderson, architectural critic; Cynthia Davidson, Venice Biennale U.S. Pavilion co-curator; and Mitch McEwen, assistant professor of Architecture at Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning at University of Michigan. Detroit is physically changing. Some of its architectural treasures and thousands more of its abandoned homes have been demolished. But now that Detroit is undergoing the slow process of rebuilding, what kind of architecture will replace it? This and other questions were discussed among an expert panel of architects and critics that gathered last Friday at Wasserman Projects, a gallery and event space in a renovated fire truck maintenance facility in Detroit's Eastern Market. Around 50 guests attended the panel discussion, called "Architecture By Any Means Necessary." Kroloff began by asking the panelists, "What are things architecture can do beyond creating a city environment?" "Structures are receptacles for stories, for meanings," said Alex Schweder, an artist who often combines performance and architecture in his work. "The structures in Washington D.C. are a manifestation of stories we tell about our country." "Buildings can perform things we never thought were possible," said Mitch McEwen, a founding partner at A(n) Office and Principal of McEwen Studio. Her example of Le Corbusier's Carpenter Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which changed her conception of architecture, lead to an argument about the interaction between a building and its visitors. Cynthia Davidson described her distaste for Detroit's Renaissance Center, the headquarters of General Motors, often criticized for its confusing walkways and lack of synergy with downtown. "[Designer John] Portman makes you realize how controlling architecture can be," she said. In response to a question about what new architecture in Detroit should do, Schweder advocated architects and city managers give up some control. "Our roles can be collaborative with client and users," he said. "People want voice and agency in the look and use of their city." The discussion took a turn towards political issues and actual implementation of these ideas. Sean Anderson, acknowledged the difficulty Schweder's proposal. "History is often not recognized by developers that come and rebuild cities." During the audience question portion of the panel, someone mentioned that vast areas of Detroit that have no architecture, but "only the ghosts of architecture." He then wondered if this "absence" was worth preserving. "Detroit is a city of single family homes," answered McEwen. She felt that memorializing vacancy was the wrong approach. "I hope the city rebuilds, but with respect for the logic of the single family home." Desire Bouncing will be on show through April 9th at the Wasserman Projects at 3434 Russell Street, #502, Detroit, Michigan 48207. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ScgU9lB3Ves
As part of the U.S. Pavilion for the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale, 20 photographs by 18 individuals have been chosen as winners of the “My Detroit” Postcard Photo Contest. “The twenty photographs to be printed as postcards will help us tell the exhibition visitor short stories about life in Detroit,” explained co-curator Cynthia Davidson in a press release. The pavilion, entitled The Architectural Imagination, will present 12 speculative architectural projects for four sites around Detroit. The postcards, made from the contest winning photographs, will be available at the pavilion as well as be part of the exhibition catalog. Picked from 463 entries, the images were chosen by photographer and sociologist Camilo José Vergara, who has photographed Detroit since 1985, and Davidson. The images range from views of iconic Detroit architecture, including the Michigan Central Station, to family portraits of local Detroiters. Ten of the contest winners are Detroit residents. "Detroit has a rich culture and history to draw from as we work toward creating a vibrant future," said Robert Fishman, University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning interim dean and professor. "The photos recognized in the postcard contest are a reflection of Detroit over time that we are excited to share with the world." The Architectural Imagination is being organized through the University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture, by co-curators Cynthia Davidson and Monica Ponce de León. The U.S. Pavilion will be open at the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale from May 28 – November 27, 2016. The Postcard Photo contest winners are: Sara Jane Boyers, Santa Monica, CA Derek Chang, New York, NY Jon DeBoer, Royal Oak, MI Antoinette Del Villano, Brooklyn, NY Jennifer Garza-Cuen, Reno, NV Geoff George, Detroit, MI Erik Herrmann, Ann Arbor, MI Julie Huff, Detroit, MI William McGraw, Dearborn, MI Ayana T. Miller, Detroit, MI Ben Nowak, Oak Park, MI Kevin Robishaw, Detroit, MI Salvador Rodriguez, Saint Clair Shores, MI Harrell Scarcello, Southfield, MI Sue Shoemaker, Brown City, MI John Sobczak, Bloomfield, MI Cigdem Talu, Montreal, Quebec, Canada Corine Vermeulen, Hamtramck, MI
Detroit muralist Katherine Craig (a.k.a. Exactly Hitops) is taking legal action in federal court to protect one of her vanguard works, as the owner the artwork’s building plans for development. Painted in 2009, The Illuminated Mural at 2937 East Grand Boulevard in Detroit’s Milwaukee Junction neighborhood has been an icon of the North End’s burgeoning art scene. The nine-story tall “bleeding rainbow,” as it is often referred, was painted with the support of a Community + Public Art: Detroit grant from the College for Creative Studies. As one might guess, the mural was executed by pouring over 100 gallons of colorful paint down the side of the 125-foot-tall building. In hopes of saving the mural from destruction Craig has filed suit in the U.S. Circuit Court, citing the Visual Artist Rights Act of 1990 (VARA), a federal copyright act specifically passed to protect visual artists, including muralist. This would not be the first time that VARA has been invoked regarding murals being destroyed by building owners. After his six-story tall mural of Ed Ruscha was painted over on a Los Angeles public building in 2006, artist Kent Twitchell sued the federal government, ultimately winning $1.1 million. The potential developer, Princeton Enterprises, a Michigan-based property management and construction firm, bought the building in mid-2015 with plans to sell or develop the site. Located near the College for Creative Studies, the building has recently been used as artist studios, one of which was used by Craig while she completed the mural. The 1913 building was designed by the eminent Detroit industrial architect Albert Kahn, designer of the Packard Motor Car Factory and the multiple factories for Henry Ford, for the Detroit Storage Company. Predating his famed 1928 Fisher Building, 2937 East Grand is an example of Kahn’s early Art Deco style. Interest in the building and the area has grown since the painting of the mural. With the neighboring Midtown booming with new commerce, and the future M-1 Rail passing from the North End to the Downtown, the area is primed for future development. Either way Craig’s lawsuit plays out, it will mean a new precedent for artist-developer relationships as former art communities in urban centers become desirable real estate.
“City ‘til I Die” is the motto of the Detroit City Football Club (DCFC), a member of the National Premier Soccer League, the largest soccer league in the U.S. Now, the team is asking its fans to put their money where their motto is to help restore a historic neighborhood soccer stadium. DDFC is looking for a new home now that their fan base has outgrown their current home field, Cass Tech High School Stadium, just outside of downtown Detroit, “The success of the 2015 season saw us turning away people at the gates," DCFC co-owner Alex Wright said at the launch of the teams ambitious funding campaign. "It was a clear sign DCFC is ready to take the next step, and grow as an organization. Come spring of 2016, Keyworth Stadium will be the home field both our supporters and the residents of Hamtramck deserve.” The Keyworth Stadium Wright refers to is a small neighborhood stadium that is currently owned and used by the Hamtramck public school system. Hamtramck is a small city that is nearly completely surrounded by the city of Detroit, and sits five miles north of the downtown. The low concrete stadium sits directly in the neighborhood with small bungalows coming right up to its outer walls. As the first major Works Progress Administration (WPA) project in the Detroit area, Franklin D. Roosevelt was on hand to dedicate the stadium in October 1936. Now in great need of restoration, DCFC has an unorthodox plan to raise the needed funds to save the 80 year old stadium. Leveraging new state legislation, DCFC is looking to its fans to help finance the estimated $3 million it will take to fully rehabilitate Keyworth Stadium. Under the Michigan Invests Locally Exemption (MILE) Act, local businesses are able to receive investments from Michigan residents anywhere from $250 to $10,000. This means that individual fans are able to lend money to the team in order to move the stadium project forward. Investors will then be paid back with interest from team revenues. This model of fundraising is a stark contrast to how many sports teams use tax payer money to fund stadium projects, and DCFC is very proud of this. Wright points out, “On our way to saving history, Michigan residents will have the opportunity to make history, by joining us to complete what we believe to be the largest community-financed project in U.S. sports history." The funding project, run on MichiganFunders.com, is hoping to raise $750,000 to add to the team's own funds. Improvements to the stadium will include much needed structural reinforcement to the grandstands, new bathrooms, locker rooms, lights, and press box. A first phase to bring the stadium up to usable standards is expected to be complete by April 2016. When finished, the stadium will hold between 6,000 and 7,000 fans, which is more than double the capacity of the Cass Tech stadium.
Detroit has joined 16 other cities designated by UNESCO as a City of Design as part of its Creative Cities Network. Detroit is the first U.S. city to be named a City of Design, and one of only five other cities in the U.S. to be inducted into the Creative Cities Network. Detroit’s application for inclusion in the UNESCO program was submitted by the Detroit Creative Corridor Center (DC3), the creative industries advocacy organization responsible for the Detroit Design Festival. Detroit has seen a renaissance in its downtown, as it draws on its own historical background as a city of design and manufacturing. According to DC3, “Metropolitan Detroit is home to the highest number of commercial and industrial designers in the country.” This results in the creative fields being the third largest employer in Detroit, only behind healthcare and general business, with over 12,300 individuals working in the creative fields. As part of the application DC3 produced a film with local director/filmmaker Stephen McGee to highlight the diverse breadth of the Detroit design scene. The short film includes scenes of the much talked about Detroit watch makers Shinola, the quickly revitalizing Detroit Riverfront, Detroit-based architecture firm LAAVU, and the much lauded College of Creative Studies, along with over 40 other architectural and design highlights from around the city. https://vimeo.com/140651533 Founded in 2004, the UNESCO Creative Cities Network’s goal is to “promote cooperation with and among cities that have identified creativity as a strategic factor for sustainable urban development.” Along with design UNESCO recognizes cities for six other fields including Crafts & Folk Art, Film, Gastronomy, Literature, Music and Media Arts. Detroit joins 116 other cities, including this year’s class of 47 cities from 33 countries, as part of the Creative Cities Network.