Posts tagged with "Michigan":

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What did the 2018 midterms mean for East Coast architects?

Let out a sigh of relief (or keep holding your breath); the 2018 midterm elections are over, and voters passed judgment up and down the Eastern Seaboard on a wave of politicians and ballot measures that will impact architects, construction workers, and transportation enthusiasts. Climate change policy was also, though not as explicitly, up for a vote alongside more concrete measures. Although the dust is still settling, AN has put together a primer on what the election results mean from Miami to Maine. New York Democrats now control all three branches of government in New York State and are poised to rewrite the state’s rent stabilization laws…assuming Governor Andrew Cuomo lets them. As Gothamist noted, the 1971 Urstadt Law prevents New York City from usurping Albany’s authority and passing more stringent rent control laws than those at the state level, even as the city spirals deeper into its affordable housing crisis. The new year will bring a vote on all of the laws that oversee the city’s affordable housing stock, meaning that the newly inaugurated state legislators will be in prime position to demand stronger tenant protections. The real estate industry in New York City has historically donated to campaigning Republicans and the reelection of the industry-friendly Cuomo, however, so it’s unclear how far the governor will acquiesce. As the NYPost broke down, tenant activists are amped up at the possibility of tamping down annual rent increases and ending the ability of landlords to raise rents after investing in capital improvements. Cuomo’s reelection also likely locks in the decision to place Amazon’s HQ2 (or 2.5) in Long Island City. The governor had been a huge booster for NYC’s bid for the tech hub, promising hundreds of millions in state subsidies. On the national front, the election of a number of “climate hawks,” including New York 14th District representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the 19th District’s Antonio Delgado, will bring a group of climate-action hardliners to Washington. It’s expected the new crop of progressive voices will press the House on plans to transition toward sustainable energy and curb America’s dependence on fossil fuels. More importantly, 16 Republican House members—more than half—on the 90-person bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus were voted out. On its surface, the collapse of the caucus sounds like a bad thing for environmentalists, but as Earther notes, the group was known for advancing milquetoast, business-friendly proposals that ultimately went nowhere. Although any climate action coming from the House needs to pass the Senate and would land on the President’s desk, where it would presumably wilt, the momentum for change is slowly building. Any climate change–confronting action will likely have an outsized impact on zoning codes in New York and beyond and would require construction teams and architects to implement steeper resiliency measures into their projects. Maine In Maine, voters overwhelmingly passed Question 3 by a measure of 2-to-1, ensuring that the state would issue $106 million in general bonds for transportation projects. Of that, $80 million will be used for roadway and bridge infrastructure construction and repair, $20 million for upgrading airports, ports, harbors, and railroads, and $5 million for upgrading stream-facing drainpipes to lessen the impact on local wildlife. One million will also be spent to improve the pier at the Maine Maritime Academy in Castine. Florida Ron DeSantis is the new governor and Rick Scott is likely to move up to become a senator. During his tenure as governor, Scott, although presiding over a state uniquely vulnerable to flooding and coastal storms, was a staunch climate change denier and banned the phrase from all state documents and discussions. DeSantis appears to be cut from the same cloth, telling crowds during a campaign stop over the summer that climate change, if it exists, can’t be mitigated at the state level. What this likely means will be a continued lack of action to mitigate climate change and its effects on a state level. Soccer lovers can rejoice, though, as 60 percent of voters endorsed allowing David Beckham’s Freedom Park to build on the Melreese Country Culb. The $1 billion Arquitectonica-designed soccer stadium, hotel, “soccer village,” and office, retail, and commercial space will span 73 acres. Michigan Gerrymandering looks like it’s on its way out in Michigan after a 60-40 vote to redraw the state’s districts. Over several decades, the state legislature had used its redistricting power to cram Democrat or Republican constituents (depending on who was in power at the time) into congressional districts where their impact would be marginalized. Now, after the passage of Proposal 2 and the subsequent amending of Michigan’s constitution, a 13-person, bipartisan panel will be established to redraw the state’s internal boundaries. Four Republicans, four Democrats, and five non-party identifying individuals will make up the commission. Barring a court challenge, money for the initiative, including pay for its members, will be allocated from the state budget come December 1, 2019. After that, the commission will draw up the new districts for the 2022 election using data from the 2020 census. The panel will convene every 10 years, in time with the census, and can only be disbanded after the legal challenges to its decisions are completed. Any Michigan citizen who hasn’t held political office in the last six years can apply to become a commissioner.
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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.
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Douglas fir and careful detailing fill this Michigan retreat designed by Wheeler Kearns

Along the shores of southwest Michigan’s Upper Jeptha Lake sits one family’s home away from home. Created in an ongoing collaboration between the owners and Chicago-based Wheeler Kearns since the 1990s, the retreat is a cluster of four small buildings. The relationship between Wheeler Kearns and the client goes well beyond this single project—their long history of building together in Chicago created a rapport that is exercised here.

Based around an existing cottage that Wheeler Kearns remodeled, the Upper Jeptha Lake Retreat is defined as much by its interior spaces as the spaces in between the structures. Enclosing a yard and pool, two outbuildings and a forest provide an intimate entertainment area. These multiple outdoor spaces can be used for family dining or large group events.   

The latest addition to the project completes the campus as a year-round multi-generational getaway.

One of the two new buildings is a guesthouse for two families. The 960-square-foot structure includes two bedroom suites, a small kitchen, and a communal area. An intimate loft space sleeps two with 360-degree views of the forest and lake—a grandkids’ paradise. Covered patios allow for more private or group eating. The second building houses an exercise room, garage, and a patio for grilling. A small boathouse sits at the water’s edge.

Each structure’s form is reminiscent of the other, but they were not designed to perfectly match. Instead they are tied together with carefully curated material and detail palettes. The entire campus is painted in a cool gray that recalls the bark of surrounding beech trees. In contrast to the calm exteriors, the interiors are rich and warm. Douglas fir is used from veneered plywood to wide planks, and lines most surfaces. Hidden appliances and efficient layouts make the most of small spaces. Interior furnishings throughout the sunlit space, such as bright fabrics and classic modern pieces, were chosen by interiors firm RDK Design.

“The clients are very involved,” explained Wheeler Kearns principal Mark Weber. “They would give us programmatic elements, but would allow us to compose the best scheme for the site.” The result is a retreat specifically catered to the needs of multiple generations of a family coming together away from the city bustle.

Resources

Windows Eagle Window

Lighting “Munkegaard LED” Louis Poulsen

“The Egg” Holophane

“BeveLED mini” USAI

Faucets Hansgrohe

Toilets and sinks Kohler

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Driverless vehicle testing facility breaks ground in Michigan

The American Center for Mobility, a non-profit product development and testing facility, has broken ground on a new driverless vehicle testing site in Ypsilanti, Michigan. The 335-acre mock town and highway facility is being built at the former World War II Willow Run bomber factory. The $80-million facility is planned to open in December 2017 and will be made available for private, government, and academic use. The site was picked because it already includes many structures and roadways that will aid in the testing, including wide-lane road and overpasses. When completed, the final campus will include multiple driving situations and settings including areas designated as residential, rural, urban, commercial, off-road, and high speed. The mission of the facility will be to test vehicle safety in a controlled, yet realistic, environment, as well as research mobility technologies. “This is the start of a new era at a site incredibly rich with history,” said John Maddox, president and CEO of the American Center for Mobility. “While there are many well-known transportation and manufacturing innovations at this site, the first use of this property was as a teaching orchard developed by Henry Ford. We’re planting an apple tree here today to honor the heritage and continue the tradition of innovation, education, and good stewardship.” The Willow Run complex was originally built in 1941 by the Ford Motor Company to produce components for the Douglas Aircraft B-24 Liberator heavy bomber. In less than a year, the plant began producing and assembling the entire aircraft. By 1945, when production seized, Willow Run had produced nearly half of the Liberators for the war effort. Along with the plant, an airport was built so the planes could take off immediately after production. After the war, the airport was transferred to civilian use and the plant was bought and sold multiple times. The last owner and operator of the plant was Ford’s rival General Motors. The American Center for Mobility is a joint initiative between the Michigan Department of Transportation, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, the University of Michigan, the Business Leaders for Michigan and Ann Arbor SPARK.