Posts tagged with "Michigan":

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Snøhetta unveils new master plan for Ford research campus in Dearborn

Ford Motor Company released initial renderings today for a major remodel and upgrade of its innovation facilities in Dearborn, Michigan. Over the last two years, the Oslo- and New York-based Snøhetta has been working with the automotive giant to develop a new master plan for its 350-acre site, the longtime home of Ford’s Research & Engineering (R&E) Center. According to the design team, the new master plan will consolidate employees in Southeast Michigan into a centralized, walkable campus where interaction, knowledge sharing, and ideation can occur across teams. This is a huge structural change for the automaker’s global headquarters, where open workspaces and access to outdoor gardens and plazas will be available where it wasn’t before. Since the R&E Center was established under a 1946 master plan by Henry Ford II, off-site structures were acquired afterward across the region as the company grew, ultimately dispersing what was once a core group of workers.  Today, that lack of focused community is cost-prohibitive and it's proven difficult for creativity to flourish when thousands of people that work together aren’t physically in the same place. Ford’s new CEO Jim Hackett brought in Snøhetta to change that by designing what they call a “productive architecture and landscape,” 71 percent of which will be open space, the preservation of existing structures, and new, health-focused facilities. A previously announced 10-year plan to overhaul the site served as the inspiration to build upon the company's many real estate projects and garner new talent through design.  “The master plan at its core is a renewed commitment to Ford’s employees,” the architecture firm said in a press release, “creating a people-first workplace that will also prepare the company for another century of innovation as it leads the global automotive industry into a new era of disruption.” When the plan is fully realized, the campus will be able to accommodate over 20,000 employees and boost efficiency. Currently, the campus can hold about 11,000 people and is characterized by car-ridden streets, low-ceiling offices, and unwelcoming iron gates that keep the public from seeing what’s inside. To make space for twice as many workers and create transparency within the Dearborn community, Snøhetta has designed a series of four campus "neighborhoods" and shared, pedestrian-friendly streets that open up the site along its main borders: Oakwood Boulevard, Rotunda Drive, and W. Emdale Street.  The focal point of the campus will be “The Hub,” a figure-eight shaped structure coming in 2025 that will house the R&E Center and replace the existing product development center on the northwestern corner of campus. The building will be naturally-lit with open floor plans and feature terraces, roof decks, and courtyards. Amplifying the indoor-outdoor experience for employees will be a defining design move of the entire campus. Another neighborhood, “Exchange,” will sit to the right of The Hub as the more public-facing portion on campus. Snøhetta sees it being used for product display, demonstration, and events. “The Hamlet” will feature workspaces surrounded by nature and ecologies native to Southeast Michigan. It could include edible gardens, playscape or discovery gardens, and more. Lastly, “The Retreat” will provide stand-alone pavilions embedded into a larger landscape that can be used as conference rooms for client meetings as well as actual retreats.  Early renderings revealed that Snøhetta will utilize different massing techniques to communicate the type of work being done in the new structures. The design team will also preserve existing buildings on campus wherever they can to integrate them into the new project. Hacket is aiming to complete the overhaul as quickly as possible and to keep the project in line with the previous 2016 plan to wrap construction up by 2026. Meanwhile, Ford will continue its work redeveloping Detroit’s Michigan Central Station in Corktown for 5,000 employees, a project designed by Quinn Evans Architects.
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Michigan high school upgrades campus to combat potential active shooters

The K-12 team at TowerPinkster is aiming to physically slow down school shooters through its $48-million renovation and addition to Fruitport High School in Western Michigan. The 189,822-square-foot project recently garnered national headlines because of its push to enhance safety within the 64-year-old institution, which previously featured narrow corridors and cramped gathering spaces.  TowerPinkster, an architecture, engineering, and interiors firm with expertise in educational spaces, worked with the National Institute of Crime Prevention to learn the most effective ways to secure the school’s campus, which is slated to reopen in 2021. By building on 143,879 square feet of new space that connects to the older structure, the design team was able to create a two-story, curved academic wing designed to reduce the sightlines of a potentially armed attacker. Each teaching space was conceived with “shadow zones” along the door-side walls where students and faculty can hide without being seen. Shatter-proof safety film was specified to cover the few windows that do look into the classrooms. In addition, cement block “wing walls” were added to stick out next to all doors and act as further barriers.  Currently under construction, this build-out is the fourth attempt to update the school since its opening in 1963. TowerPinkster has envisioned a new set of offices, an auditorium, media center, woodshop, cafeteria, and common area for Fruitport HS as well. The entry experience is also changing. Located at the opposite end of the classroom corridors, and looking directly at the parking lot, a staff member at reception would be able to see anyone walking into the school at any given time. They would also have the ability to lock down all classrooms, the vestibule door to the office, and the office door to the school using a three-button system.  At a time when some experts are saying the key to school safety is in the design of fully transparent and inclusive learning spaces or pushing for gun reform, TowerPinkster didn’t wholeheartedly embrace breaking down Fruitport’s mid-century brick structure and replacing it with a more contemporary school. Closer attention was paid to the security strategies and, according to Matt Slagle, director of K-12 design at the firm, it was all about striking a “balance between security and a welcoming presence.” He told The Washington Post his team wanted to make the school feel open, but not too open; secure, but not as secure as a prison.  Along with adding ample barrier elements to the school’s many open spaces, the idea to include curved hallways was one of the biggest safety-increasing design moves. Fruitport’s academic wings will be crescent-shaped and short, even though they won’t appear to be so from the ground. But non-linear connection points aren’t always the smartest way to ensure protection in a highly populated environment. In 2003, it was reported that it took police over seven hours to capture a gunman that had entered a new business school building at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. SWAT team members blamed the architect, Frank Gehry, for the hide-and-seek game that ensued and for not being able to get a clear shot. And, as critics are pointing out on social media, those shadow zones and wing walls could also be taken advantage of by the shooter to more easily hide.
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Trail wends through the tree canopy in Michigan's Dow Gardens

In central Michigan, a new walkway is snaking its way through a forest canopy. The elevated trail was designed by Philadelphia-based firm Metcalfe for the Whiting Forest of Dow Gardens, a historic public garden established by Herbert H. Dow, the founder of Dow Chemical, in 1899. The 1,400-foot-long catwalk snakes through the canopy 40 feet above the floor of the 54-acre forest. At various points, trail's solid floor turns into mesh netting that visitors can sit on, floating among the tree trunks. Structures built along the trail create other spaces for reflection and observation to complement other structures on the site, including a playground, visitors' center, café, and educational spaces.
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Doug Aitken's creates a Mirage in a historic Detroit bank

On October 10, the doors of Detroit’s long-abandoned State Savings Bank will open to the public and reveal a space radically different from the building's original interior. Among the building’s elegant columns, historic bank vault, and vast interior space sits Doug Aitken’s latest art installation, a mystifying sculpture in the form of a one-story American suburban house, equipped with a maze of mirror-clad rooms and hallways that will leave visitors both disoriented and perplexed. The sprawling design, known as Mirage Detroit, diffracts and reflects every aspect of its surroundings, including the historic architecture of the antiquated building in which it resides. The resulting contrast is intense: the bank, with its bold sculptural supports, decorative enrichments, elaborate cornice, and over-scaled features, is juxtaposed with Aitken’s angular, mirrored sculpture and the room’s marble floor, which has been completely obscured by raw earth and river rocks. The merging of these elements conjures images of “a constantly shifting landscape that incorporates the organic and inorganic, reflects the past, and questions the future,” according to a statement from the artist's studio. Mirage Detroit will mark one of the first times that the public has had open access to the State Savings Bank, which was built in 1900 and has been vacant for decades. The bank, which is impressive by virtue of its sheer size, classical décor, and adaptation to the urban American landscape, represents the history of Detroit while looking towards its future. It was saved from demolition after it was purchased by Bedrock in late 2014. “In many ways, Mirage will become its surroundings,” says Anthony Curis, owner of Detroit-based art gallery Library Street Collective. “It will reflect and intensify one of the city’s greatest historical and cultural contributions—its grand architecture.” Over the course of the exhibition period, Mirage Detroit will host an array of cultural events ranging from educational programs, musical performances, and community programs funded by organizations like Cranbrook Academy of Art, Art Museum, Museum of Modern Art Detroit (MOCAD), and College for Creative Studies.
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A Michigan power utility plans to be totally renewable by 2040

The power utility company serving Traverse City, Michigan, a small city in the north of the state, has decided to shift completely to renewable energy sources. The board of Traverse City Light & Power (TCL&P) decided this month that they would aim to make the shift by 2040, the Traverse City Record Eagle reported last week. Dozens of towns and cities across the country have made similar pledges in the years since President Trump pulled the U.S. out of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement last year. According to the Record Eagle, Traverse City mayor Jim Carruthers had already announced that all of the city's municipal operations would be renewably powered by 2020. What distinguishes this step is that the utility company is exceeding goals set by the city it serves. Towns and cities rely on utility companies to provide electricity. These utilities, in turn, contract suppliers who generate electricity through a variety of means. When municipalities set green energy goals, that leaves utility companies scrambling to find providers who can fulfill the demand. In the Traverse City case, however, the utility company is deciding to ditch polluting sources before its customers have. The impact may not be enormous—TCL&P serves a region with a population less than 20,000—but it is an example of how utilities could evolve in other areas, and what customers could reasonably demand from their utility companies. As older fossil fuel power plants age out of use, utilities are sometimes confronted with a choice over whether to replace the loss from a similar source or to go after newer, sustainable solutions. The Record Eagle reported that two coal plants that currently supply TCL&P are scheduled to go offline by 2030, and that new wind farms on the Great Lakes could be potential replacements. The article also said that the decision was nearly unanimous among the utility's board, with only one member warning rising costs.
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A Michigan facility is the nation's epicenter for testing self-driving cars

The race is on to develop connected and automated vehicles (CAV) that are viable and affordable. The road to this goal is not a simple one, though. While Silicon Valley is working on the software side of the challenge, the U.S. government is looking back to the place where it all began: Michigan. Specifically, Willow Run in Ypsilanti Township.

Willow Run was a B-52 manufacturing plant during World War II. Today, the site is in the middle of a transition that will make it the epicenter of automated-vehicle research. Willow Run is now home to the American Center for Mobility (ACM), and it has been designated as the first national CAV proving grounds by the Department of Transportation.

At over 500 acres, the center includes a variety of environments designed to simulate real-world situations. These include a 2.5-mile highway loop, a 700-foot-long curved tunnel, two double overpasses, and multiple intersections and roundabouts. Matched with Michigan’s varied and sometimes extreme weather, the center provides everything needed to put new autonomous testing technologies through their paces.

The first task of the facility will be to help establish voluntary standards for CAVs, infrastructure, and autonomous technologies. Along with the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) and SAE International, the center will work to identify the most immediately needed guidelines for safe automated transportation. The center is also working with the University of Michigan’s Mcity, a smaller research facility with its own proving ground. Mcity’s position within the greater university allows researchers access to the school’s engineers, public policy experts, and law, business, social sciences, and urban planning faculty.

As a public-private partnership, the center is also working with companies like Toyota and AT&T. Toyota, which already does automated research at Mcity, recently invested $5 million into the center. AT&T is providing a dedicated LTE cellular network needed for the communication side of the CAV equation.

“As we move forward with the development of autonomous cars, we must remember that not all test miles are created equal,” said Gill Pratt, CEO of Toyota Research Institute, at the announcement of the Toyota-ACM collaboration. “The road to creating a car as safe, or safer, than a human driver will require billions of test miles including simulation, real-world driving on public roads, and closed-course testing where we can expose our systems to extreme circumstances and conditions. The new ACM closed-course facility is a significant step forward in this journey and will accelerate our ability to help prevent crashes and save lives.”

According to the World Economic Forum, 10 percent of vehicles in the U.S. will be driverless by 2026. Before that can happen, new hardware and software will have to be developed to overcome issues of trust, cost, efficiency, and safety. The U.S. government is counting on Michigan’s automotive brain trust to solve these issues and move the country back into the lead position in the automotive industry.

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How a $500 house tells the story of a changing Detroit

Something about Detroit awakens a feeling in many that can only be described as a frontier romanticism. But just like the American West was not uninhabited, free for the taking by European settlers, Detroit is a city with existing communities, existing assets, existing problems, and existing potential. It is a city with 700,000 inhabitants that have watched as their surroundings have crumbled into an uncanny post-industrial landscape. What to “do with” tens of thousands of vacant structures and vacant lots is a perennial discussion among architects, planners, developers, and politicians. When 23-year-old Drew Philp bought a house for $500 in the Poletown neighborhood, he was less concerned with solving the city’s problems than he was with surviving Detroit’s brutal winters without heat. In his first book, A $500 House in Detroit, published by Scribner, he tells a story of struggle and triumph as he rebuilds a dilapidated Queen Anne, one piece at a time. When Philp moved to Detroit, he was in the final year of his undergraduate degree at the University of Michigan. With little in the way of a plan or a mission, he worked and lived hand-to-mouth. Slowly making friends, he found himself part of an urban farming community called the Yes Farm. Still without a permanent place to stay, he learned of the county’s annual property auction. The auction sold off county-owned properties, bidding starting at $500. The house he would end up buying was barely a shell, and it would take years to bring it up to a livable condition.
This story, of a white kid from Anywheresville, Michigan, moving to the predominantly African American Detroit to find himself, sounds more like a veiled gentrification narrative than a worthwhile topic for a critical look at the city. Yet, experiences like Philp’s, while not completely unique, have rarely been told in such detail, or with as much awareness of their inherent cultural worldview. Throughout, Philp questions his place in his community, conscious of every interaction with his neighbors. Five years of experiences, traumatic and joyful, and firsthand lessons in community politics, give him a perspective that is insightful and measured. Intertwined with his account, Philp includes historic anecdotes explaining the events leading to the current conditions of inequality, corruption, and vacancy in Detroit. One of the most powerful accounts discusses how entire neighborhoods were destroyed when the interstate was driven through the heart of the city. While this is a story that has been told in nearly every American city, it has special meaning in Philp’s case, as his grandfather built his home, well outside of Detroit, from the reused wood from those forcefully demolished homes. Events like this forced Philp, and now his readers, to contemplate guilt, reparation, appropriation, and race relations in a very real, very personal way. Philp also points out that much of the book was literally written at the kitchen table from that same house.
Told in a typical Midwestern voice, Philp’s writing will be clear and familiar to anyone who grew up in Middle America. Even so, many will find it hard to see themselves in his shoes, but this may be a strength for the book. Rather than fetishizing the experience, Philp constantly questions his actions. Less a how-to than a cautionary tale, few will feel any urge to attempt to re-create his experience. The timing of the book, taking place roughly from 2009–2017, happens to coincide with major changes in Detroit, which have yet to be proven good or bad. An influx of young white people, Philp arguably being part of the first wave of them, and global interest in the critically distressed city, has made it a space of pilgrimage and settlement by many more with more social and economic privilege than those who have stuck it out over the years. This underlying theme of a changing city plays itself out over and over again throughout the book, with Philp often stuck awkwardly in between “progress” and empathy. The genesis of A $500 House in Detroit came when Philp wrote a short piece for BuzzFeed. If the story would have ended there, a few thousand words bookended by stories like “15 Celebrity Tweets You Missed This Week,” it would have simply become yet another one-dimensional anecdote about a city that is in dire need of having its complex story told. And while A $500 House never professes to tell the whole story, it does add a significant voice to the dialogue, without fetishizing or romanticizing the city and the lives of those who live there.
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17-story tower in Ann Arbor, Michigan gets air rights approval

The City Council of Ann Arbor, Michigan, has voted in favor of selling air rights to a project that is set to become one of the tallest in the city. The Collective is proposed to be a 17-story mixed-use development designed by Evanston, Illinois–based Myefski Architects and developed by Chicago-based Core Spaces. The 352,000-square-foot development will include 360 residential units, 131 hotel rooms, 20,000 square feet of office space, and 3,000 square feet of retail space. At its base, a designed streetscape and 12,000-square-foot public plaza will interact with the building's structure. Located in the busy Midtown District, the tower will also include terraces and balconies overlooking the public space. The .8-acre site where The Collective will stand is above a city-owned underground parking garage. In 2015 the city requested proposals for the site, signaling that it wanted to sell the air rights for a development. The Core/Myefski team was one of nine to submit, and one of the two shortlisted. After a series of public input meetings, the current proposal was picked in early 2016. It took another 15 months of negotiations between the team and the city to arrive at this week’s vote. The approval means the city is willing to sell the air rights for $10 million. Five million dollars of that money is already earmarked for affordable housing in the city. “The City and residents of Ann Arbor put this in motion many years ago. They had a vision for this dynamic downtown location that involved addressing the needs of the community,” said President and Principal John Myefski. “In addition to a placemaking, landmark building, this development is going to boost the quality of life for many Ann Arbor residents.”
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Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects designing $115 million expansion to Meijer Gardens in Michigan

New York firm Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects (TWBTA) has unveiled plans for an expansion to the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The $115 million project will see a variety of new spaces added to the center, including a Welcome Center (60,000 square feet), Covenant Learning Center (20,000 square feet), and two sculpture gardens. “For last two years 750,000 people each year have come out to visit Meijer Gardens. When the current entryway was built, we were getting 200,000 people coming in, so we need to grow,” said President and CEO of the park David Hooker speaking to local news station, WoodTV. "The new facilities will be an amazing expression of our mission never before imagined," he added, speaking in a press release. "We strongly believe the growth of Meijer Gardens will continue and that the organization will thrive for generations to come." Meijer Gardens opened in 1995 and since then has been a success, providing educational programs, housing art, and offering peaceful garden areas to the public. TWBTA's design will allow Meijer Gardens to expand annual horticulture exhibitions, include for galleries for sculptures, and incorporate more event spaces. In addition to this, circulatory space and parking capacity will be increased. Along with the aforementioned spaces, a new Peter C. and Emajean Cook Transportation Center; an expanded and upgraded Frederik Meijer Gardens Amphitheater; a "Scenic Corridor"; outdoor picnic pavilion; and new Padnos Families Rooftop Sculpture Garden will be included in the scheme. “We are deeply honored to be have been selected by Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park for this special project,” said Tod Williams of TWBTA in a press release. “From our very first visit, we were struck by the incredible quality of the sculpture collection and its sensitive installation throughout the grounds, as well as by their magnificent Japanese Garden. We saw that the place and the people here are unique.” Ground is expected to break on the project in fall this year with completion due for 2021. So far $102 million of the proposal's projected costs have been raised through donations. A campaign is underway to raise the remaining $13 million in capital.
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52-story SHoP-designed tower revealed for downtown Detroit

New York City-based SHoP Architects, working with Detroit-based Hamilton Anderson Associates, has released new information and renderings of a two-acre site in downtown Detroit. It has been some time since we have seen any new developments for the former site of the J.L. Hudson’s Department Store and the fewer details about what was planned for the site has had Detroiters more than a bit curious. With this latest revelation, Detroit is looking at a much larger project than initially thought. “The driving force behind our design for the Hudson's site is to create a building that speaks to the rebirth of optimism in the city's future and an experiential destination that positively impacts Detroit in a meaningful way,” said William Sharples, principal at SHoP, in a press release. “The building is conceived around a huge and inspiring new public space, a year-round civic square that, both in its architecture and its culture, will foster and convey the feeling we all share when we work together to imagine what this great city can become.” The site of the new development was once home to one of Detroit’s largest retailers, Hudson's. The 25-story department store was at one time the tallest department story in the world. At over two million square feet, it was the anchor of the thriving Woodward avenue shopping corridor. With the declining economic state of Detroit in the 1970s, not even the retail giant could survive. The store was closed in 1983 and the building eventually imploded in 1998. Bedrock, the real estate firm co-founded by Detroit native Dan Gilbert, are developing the site. “Our goal is to create a development that exceeds the economic and experiential impact even Hudson’s had on the city. We believe this project is so unique that it can help put Detroit back on the national—and even global—map for world-class architecture, talent attraction, technology innovation and job creation,” explained Gilbert as part of the announcement. The Downtown Development Authority has approved a timeline which sets the ground breaking for the development on December 1st, 2017.
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Valerio DeWalt Train transforms an east Michigan college

Chicago based-Valerio Dewalt Train Associates (VDTA) has transformed Walsh College in Troy, Michigan. The adult business school caters to students who work full-time and attend classes at night. Since the 1970s, the college has grown organically. In order to better unify the campus and increase its visibility in the community, VDTA was asked to master plan, renovate, and build new buildings. The latest and the final phase of the project is the Livernois Road addition. The new addition re-imagines the public face of the college by adding three glass and steel pavilions to the street side of one of the oldest buildings on campus. The geometry and materials of the new addition reference a previous VDTA-designed project on campus. The pavilions provide new spaces for student services, a student lounge, and a “success center” for students to practice their professional communication skills. The master plan also called for improved circulation throughout the campus. The confusing floor plans of the existing buildings were rationalized and two primary paths were used to organize the entire complex. Media Objectives, an interdisciplinary design studio within VDTA, handled site-specific graphics to aid in wayfinding and the schools overall visual identity. Throughout the project, spaces were re-positioned to the advantage of the students. The existing administration space was reconfigured to eliminate all private offices. This freed up a substantial amount of space that was converted for student use. Extensive use of glass on the facade and the interior was used to bring light into the project and add transparency and light to passageways. Walsh College’s curriculum includes project-based learning, which requires students to often work in teams. Collaborative workspaces, leisure spaces, meeting rooms, and work rooms were all added for use by students, faculty, and staff. These new collaborative spaces are meant to emulate the latest in business work environments.
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University of Michigan exhibits the work of Archigram

Through February 20th, the University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning is exhibiting the work of 1960s avant-garde architecture group Archigram. The show, organized by Archigram member Dennis Crompton, presents exhibition pieces, collages, drawings, and films from the group of six young architects. "In architecture, nothing ages so quickly as visions of the future. But somehow after more than a half-century, Archigram is still ahead of us—still amazing us with its explosive mixture of the carnival and the computer,” said Taubman College’s Interim Dean Robert Fishman. “One of the rare true collaborations in architecture, Archigram’s six founders deployed graphics borrowed from advertising and sci-fi comics to upset the solemnity of 1960s corporate modernism. They conceived the city as a basic power and transportation grid into which people 'plugged-in' a constantly-changing array of mass-produced modules. In this urbanism of constant flux, everyone is an architect." The exhibition fills the two-story space of the university’s Liberty Research Annex. Over-sized drawings backdrop framed original pieces, while large banners hang from the ceiling. Multiple projections play videos made by the group, and mannequins wear bright graphic clothes printed with the group's imagery. The gallery is located at 305 W. Liberty St., Ann Arbor, Michigan and is open to the public Thursday-Sunday, 3:00pm to 7:00pm. The show will be open through February 20th, 2017.