Posts tagged with "Michigan":

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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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Architectural Record sold for the second time in less than a year

Architectural Record has been sold...again. Back in September, it was reported that McGraw-Hill Financial's construction media portfolio—which included the publication, along with its data and analytics services—had been purchased by the Silicon Valley–based private equity firm Symphony Technology Group for $320 million. Now, Dodge Data & Analytics, the company which formed after McGraw-Hill Construction was sold, and includes Architectural Record, Engineering News-Record, Snap, and Sweets News & Products, has been picked up by BNP Media based in Troy, Michigan. FOLIO: reported that the "deal effectively terminates Dodge Data & Analytics’ relationship to traditional media, with the company’s remaining holdings focused squarely on business intelligence for the construction and engineering communities." The terms are not yet known, but the deal is expected to close at the end of the month. With the acquisition, the company reportedly plans to add staff to its Michigan offices "to support the acquisitions." "This transaction signals Dodge's focus on our core business: providing information, intelligence, and data-driven insights to empower our customers in the construction industry," said Mike Petrullo, CEO of Dodge Data & Analytics, in a statement. "ENR and Architectural Record, both published for over 100 years, have a long, storied history of journalistic excellence and leadership in the marketplace, and we wish them continued success under BNP's stewardship." A source told AN that there have already been multiple layoffs due to the change.
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The 2015 winners of the Rudy Bruner Awards serve up a healthy dose of urban excellence

The Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence has announced its 2015 gold and silver medalists. For the past 27 years, the biennial competition has honored “transformative places distinguished by physical design and contributions to the economic, environmental and social vitality of America’s cities.” This year’s gold medal—and $50,000—goes to Baltimore’s “Miller Court,” an abandoned industrial facility that was transformed into a mixed-use building with housing, and a focus on fostering teachers and education-focused non-profits. The transformation was spearheaded by the Seawall Development Company, Enterprise Community Investment, and Marks, Thomas Architects. The project was completed in 2009. “Aware of the challenges facing the Baltimore school system and professionals entering the field through programs like Teach for America, Seawall sought to build a safe, welcoming community for teachers and a home for allied nonprofits that would strengthen the neighborhood and city,” the Bruner Foundation said in a press release. “Attracting national attention as a model, the project has generated additional investment in Remington and has been replicated in Philadelphia.” Below are the four silver medalists, each of which received $10,000. Falls Park on the Reedy Greenville, South Carolina
From the Bruner Foundation: "The renaissance of a 26-acre river corridor running through the heart of Greenville, restoring public access to the falls and greenspace and catalyzing adjacent downtown development. (Submitted by the City of Greenville)"
Grand Rapids Downtown Market Grand Rapids, Michigan
From the Bruner Foundation: "A new downtown public space promoting local food producers and community events, entrepreneurship, and education about nutrition and healthy lifestyles. (Submitted by Grand Rapids Downtown Market)"
Quixote Village Olympia, Washington
From the Bruner Foundation: "A two-acre community of 30 tiny houses and a common building that provides permanent, supportive housing for chronically homeless adults. (Submitted by Panza)"
Uptown District Cleveland, Ohio
From the Bruner Foundation: "The redevelopment of a corridor linking art, educational and health care institutions with surrounding neighborhoods, creating outdoor gathering spaces, retail shops and restaurants, student and market-rate housing, and public transit connections. (Submitted by Case Western Reserve University)"
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Detroit gets its feet wet with “blue infrastructure”

Detroit's Water & Sewerage Department hopes an experiment in so-called blue infrastructure will help the cash-strapped city stop flushing money down the drain. The Detroit Free Press reported that a pilot project in the far east side area of Jefferson Village will divert stormwater runoff into a series of small wetlands and pieces of green infrastructure to reduce the pressure on an overloaded city sewer system. Such experiments in alternative stormwater management could save owners of large, impervious surfaces like parking lots tens of thousands of dollars each year in forgone drainage fees, while the city could save millions by scaling back or scrapping expensive, "gray infrastructure" investments like newer sewer pipes. But the plan, which is expected to be ready in a few months, is not a done deal, writes John Gallagher in the Detorit Free Press:
It is by no means a simple problem to solve. Multiple licenses and approvals would be needed from a variety of agencies, including the city itself, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and others. But there is great enthusiasm among experts for trying the experiment. Blue infrastructure is a key recommendation of the Detroit Future City visionary framework and has been much talked about in recent years, but nothing of this magnitude has been done so far in Detroit. So far, "blue infrastructure" in metro Detroit has meant the creation of porous parking lots and so-called "green alleys" that allow rain and snowmelt to filter down into the ground beneath instead of running off into sewers.
Across the nation urbanists and landscape designers are embracing innovative stormwater capture and retention techniques as concerns over climate change, flooding and drought collide with a renewed interest in public spaces and site design.
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Passive House Laboratory by GO Logic

Architects deliver a North American first with Warren Woods Ecology Field Station.

When Belfast, Maine–based architecture firm GO Logic presented the University of Chicago's Department of Ecology and Evolution with three schematic designs for the new Warren Woods Ecology Field Station, the academics decided to go for broke. Despite being new to Passive House building, the university was attracted to the sustainability standard given the laboratory's remote location in Berrien County, Michigan. "We presented them with three design options: one more compact, one more aggressive formally," recalled project architect Timothy Lock. The third option had an even more complicated form, one that would make Passive House certification difficult. "They said: 'We want the third one—and we want you to get it certified,'" said Lock. "We had our work cut out for us." Thanks in no small part to an envelope comprising a cedar rain screen, fully integrated insulation system, and high performance glazing, GO Logic succeeded in meeting the aesthetic and environmental goals set down by the university, with the result that the Warren Woods facility is the first Passive House–certified laboratory in North America.
  • Facade Manufacturer Kneer-Südfenster (glazing), Neopor (structural insulation), pro clima (breathable building paper)
  • Architects GO Logic
  • Facade Installer GO Logic (general contractor), Ebels Construction (carpentry)
  • Location Warren Woods, MI
  • Date of Completion 2014
  • System cedar rain screen with high performance glazing, integrated insulation
  • Products locally-sourced Eastern White Cedar vertical gap siding, Kneer-Südfenster windows and doors, Neopor insulation, pro clima Solitex Quatra-Fronta Building Paper, SIGA tapes
Warren Woods' envelope begins at ground level, with a shallow foundation utilizing GO Logic's patented L-shaped EPS insulation around the edges, and a continuous air-seal layer between the foam and the slab. "The system allows us to pour consistent slab-on-grade without any thermal bridging," explained Lock. The sealing layer connects into the wood stud wall backed by graphite-impregnated Neopor insulation. The architects chose the insulation for its high R-value, knowing that they would need to compensate for the relatively large amount of surface area dedicated to the exterior wall. Pro clima one-way breathable building paper allows the building to expel moisture. GO Logic installed a rain screen of Eastern White Cedar vertical gap siding sourced from the Upper Peninsula "because of the aesthetic goals of the client," said Lock. "They desired a contemporary aesthetic but also [the look of] a Midwestern barn." The architects planned the interior space and allotted glazing judiciously, locating the laboratory on the north side of the building. Its position, under the cantilever over the entry, maximally reduces solar gain—an important consideration given the heat generated by the equipment inside. The classroom space, on the other hand, is positioned on the building's south side, punctuated by a long strip of Kneer-Südfenster glazing. "We are highly critical of windows that are available domestically," said Lock. "The big drawback with North American windows is that the tradeoff for a higher R-value is significantly reduced solar heat gain." Instead, the firm imports Kneer-Süd's products directly from Germany. "In Northern Europe they know how to get all the heat from the sun that they can," he observed. "We also love the way they look." The windows and doors are fully integrated into the air-seal layer using one-way breathable tapes from SIGA, imported (like the pro clima paper) through 475 High Performance Building Supply in Brooklyn. A custom-fabricated stainless steel accordion screen shields the classroom-side glazing from both intruders and the sun. "It's good for security—the university likes that," said Lock. "But the screen was also big for us to control the amount of heat that enters during the summer months and shoulder seasons." The idea, he explained, is that when classes are in session and the weather is nice, the occupants can throw open the doors. When only the laboratory is in operation, the closed screen will cut back on heat gain. In addition, the steel mesh "became something that was also a really exciting design feature," said Lock. "It had a great effect—not just cooling the space, but also softening the natural light."
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Pictorial> Studio Gang’s sylvan retreat in Kalamazoo, Michigan

Studio Gang Architects' Arcus Center at Kalamazoo College in Michigan broke ground in 2012. Now photos of this sylvan study space are available, following its September opening. And they don't disappoint. The 10,000-square-foot building is targeting LEED Gold. Gang's press release said the new social justice center, a trifurcated volume terminating in large transparent window-walls, “brings together students, faculty, visiting scholars, social justice leaders, and members of the public for conversation and activities aimed at creating a more just world.” The open interior spaces are connected with long sight lines and awash in natural light—a cozy condition Studio Gang says will break down barriers and help visitors convene. The building's concave exterior walls are made of a unique wood-masonry composite that its designers say will sequester carbon. It also, says a release, “challenges the Georgian brick language and plantation-style architecture of the campus’s existing buildings.”
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Old-School Meets New in Stantec’s Pew Library

Contemporary stone envelope asserts the continued relevance of book learning at GVSU.

For the new Mary Idema Pew Library Learning and Information Commons at Grand Valley State University, SHW Group, now Stantec, considered a brick skin to tie it to the surrounding edifices. "But at the end of the day, the library, we believe, is one of the most important buildings on campus," said senior design architect Tod Stevens. "That's where we started to have a conversation about the library as it moves into the 21st century. We wanted to signal the continued importance of the library to university life." To do so, the architects designed a quartzite envelope whose random pattern of stones sits in tension with an interlaid stainless steel grid. On the building's north facade, a 40-foot-tall glass curtain wall creates an indoor/outdoor living room on the campus's main pedestrian axis, and reveals Pew Library's state-of-the-art interior to passersby. Stantec chose a multi-hued quartzite, said Stevens, as a nod to the limestone banding on many of GVSU's historic buildings. In addition, he explained, "when it rains, it brings out the red and other colors embedded in it. Even on a grey day, you can see that this building has personality and sparkle. And that red knitted it back to the other buildings as well." The architects wanted the stones set in a random pattern because, said Stevens, "the pattern really talks about the care that it takes to build this building: one stone at a time is the importance of this building." But achieving such a level of craftsmanship was easier said than done. "Nobody wants to take ownership of what it looks like," explained senior project architect Joe Mitra. "We spent a great deal of time coming up with a strategy to create that pattern. No two of the rectangular spaces are identical. Instead every stone is planned. We made shop drawings for each one."
  • Facade Manufacturer Dwyer Marble & Stone (stone), Architectural Glass & Metal (stainless steel), Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope (curtain wall)
  • Architects Stantec
  • Facade Installer Pioneer Construction (construction manager), Architectural Glass & Metal (glazing, stainless steel), Burggrabe Masonry (stone)
  • Location Allendale, MI
  • Date of Completion 2013
  • System quartzite veneer with hung stainless steel grid, high-performance curtain wall, punch windows, faux copper accents
  • Products custom stone veneer from Dwyer Marble & Stone, custom stainless steel accents from Architectural Glass & Metal, Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope Reliance curtain wall, Guardian SunGuard glazing, Euramax faux copper shingles
The purposefully irregular stone design is counterposed to a surrounding stainless steel grid. "This is a contemporary building, and we wanted to signal that on the stone facades," explained Stevens. "We wanted to get that snap: it's a crisp conversation between the quartzite and the metal reveals." Faux copper accents signaling entry points on the stone cladding nod to other contextual cues, including Cook Carillon Tower. With respect to installation, maintaining a constant level of humidity was a special concern, given Michigan's hot, humid summers and cold, dry winters. After performing a number of moisture-migration analyses in WUFI, the architects settled on a 2 1/4 inch stone veneer backed by a 1 3/4 inch cavity and 3 1/2 inches of insulation. "The corners are mitered," noted Mitra, "so the stone looks thicker; you don't get that feel of veneer." On the north side of Pew Library, the architects pulled the massive curtain wall away from the stone to create a multi-purpose atrium. "The aspirations for LEED on this project were the highest we could get," said Stevens. "Bringing light into the building is fundamental. Flooding the library with natural light from the north was one of the drivers of the design. A side benefit," he noted, "is that when students are working late into the evening, the glass wall signals and shows their scholarly work." The triple-glazed curtain wall is hung from a twinned truss system. "We wanted the structure behind the glass to disappear," said Mitra. "It wanted to look light. We did a lot of physical models to test different systems. Ultimately, the twinned truss system at each of the column heights allowed us to have that transparency; you can see the building behind it." On the south, east, and west sides of the building, the size of the windows indicates the program within. Smaller windows mark individual study spaces, while larger apertures attach to communal meeting areas. To mitigate thermal gain, the architects employed a number of shading strategies, including horizontal sunscreens, interior motorized shades, extruded mullion caps, and 18-inch insets for the vertical punch windows. On the roof plane, Stantec created a landscaped terrace for student use. Pew Library, with its Automated Storage and Retrieval System and 31 types of indoor and outdoor seating, has been celebrated for its high-technology approach to learning. Its message—literally written in stone—is that the library is not dead. Far from it. Though it has been carefully adapted to meet the needs of today's students, GVSU's newest monument to education suggests that the university library remains a place worth celebrating, a beacon for the campus's thriving intellectual life.
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Michigan’s first bus rapid transit line launches today in Grand Rapids

Michigan's first bus rapid transit line launches this week, whisking passengers from downtown Grand Rapids through the city's “Medical Mile” and south suburbs—a 9.6-mile journey that used to take 45 minutes will now be only a 27-minute commute, reported mlive.com. The Silver Line, as it's called, is offering free rides for one week from its starting date, Monday, August 25. After that a $1.50 rate applies. Supporters of the line say it's an appropriate response to an uptick in ridership, and one that will replicate the success of Cleveland's Health Line. But some say the plan to run express buses—which are equipped with technology that keeps traffic lights green and dedicates bus-only lanes during rush hours—will lose money in the long-term. The Kent County Taxpayers Alliance asserted the service is redundant and expensive. At $40 million, the project is ten percent under budget, but still too pricey for opponents of the public transit investment. Bus rapid transit is also contentious in Chicago, where plans to add two BRT lines along Ashland and Western Avenues are still in planning phases. If the Silver Line is a success, it could boost the chances of realizing a 12-mile “Laker Line” between Grand Rapids and Grand Valley State University. That project is currently the subject of a study.
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Cranbrook picks Christopher Scoates to replace Reed Kroloff

More than one year after Reed Kroloff announced he would leave his post as director of Michigan’s Cranbrook Academy of Art, the illustrious arts campus and museum has plucked an art museum director from the West Coast to fill his shoes. Christopher Scoates has worked with California State University Long Beach since 2005. A native of England, he has a Master of Fine Arts in Photography from Cranbrook and more than 25 years of experience in universities and art schools. As a curator he has organized exhibitions bringing together music, lighting, and various media for shows that have traveled the country. “Cranbrook Academy of Art's rich legacy and history of innovation have made it one of the top institutions of graduate education in the visual and fine arts,” Scoates said in a statement. “Together, the Academy and Museum share a commitment to new art and new ideas, and I look forward to developing new partnerships, alliances, and audiences that will extend both the Academy and Museum programs far beyond the walls of the campus.” His appointment takes effect August 1st. Cranbrook is a top ranked, graduate-only program in architecture, design, and fine art famous for its Saarinen-designed campus and small class size—just 150 students per year. (Disclosure: Kroloff serves as an editorial advisor to The Architect’s Newspaper.)
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Flint Public Art Project enlists local students for ‘museum of public schools’

Flint, Michigan kicked off a series of events celebrating education and the arts Friday, unveiling interactive installations cooked up over a year-long after school program local students have dubbed Museum of Public Schools. Produced by the Flint Public Art Project, the ongoing exhibition will culminate in a series of proposals by students to change their school system. Mott Middle College plays host to the ongoing event. “Usually students just experience their own educational opportunity and journeys,” Mott Principal Cheryl Wagonlander said in a press release. “It's rare for them to step out of the role of experiencing and become the seekers of information about how varied educational access and opportunities are in their own community and beyond their own community.” On the corner of South 2nd Street and Saginaw, students installed chalkboards that asked the public, “What is the purpose of education?” Answers varied widely in tone, from sarcastic to self-reflective. The Museum of Public Schools program is just one of several summer events planned as part of the growing Flint Public Art Project’s programming. Upcoming events include a “porch light initiative” to illuminate the city on June 19 to celebrate the day in 1865 when Union soldiers announced the end of the Civil War. More information is at www.flintpublicartproject.com.
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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.