For many years much of Detroit’s riverfront was an industrial utility, characterized by derelict manufacturing sites. But efforts to reclaim public spaces on the waterfront have made considerable progress in recent years. Now a $44 million boost from the federal government and the state of Michigan ensures transformation along the Detroit River will continue. Planned projects include the redevelopment of Mount Elliott Park, improvements to Gabriel Richard Park, and an expansion of Detroit’s RiverWalk. The walk is currently not continuous between downtown and Belle Isle, but the new funding aims to close some of the gaps. $29 million comes in the form of federal highway money, while $15 million is from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund. Detroiters haven taken to Yelp in recent years to express their support for the ongoing project. “To the skeptical first time visitor of Detroit,” wrote one visitor from New York last year, “RiverWalk is a shining symbol of what the city is actually made of.”
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Detroit Mayor David Bing is making good on his pledge to demolish 10,000 derelict buildings in the city by the end of his first term in 2013—his administration has already taken down 4,500 abandoned structures, with another 1,500 demolitions planned by the end of September. (Five more came down this morning, and Curbed Detroit was on the scene to document the demolition.) Now the governor of Michigan, Rick Snyder, is expected to announce state support to help raze more buildings in the name of public safety. With an initial focus on Detroit’s east, southwest, and northwest sides, the governor’s administration is currently identifying neighborhoods for a pilot program. The Michigan Land Bank, Detroit Public Schools, and the Michigan State Housing Development Authority are among the many agencies and private sector actors involved in the effort to reclaim Detroit's wealth of abandoned and unused land. Neighborhood stabilization and economic development have been at the core of many of Bing’s proposals as mayor. But with Wayne County facing a $155 million budget deficit, efforts to transform Detroit's well-documented decline will have to do more with less.
Occupying a room in the abandoned Federal Screw Works factory in Chelsea, Michigan, General Manifold is an immersive environment that aims to disorient as well as engage. The installation is set in an 80,000 square foot factory, founded in 1913, that once employed 250 people. When it was shuttered in 2005, only 37 remained. Spatial Ops, with students from their Meta Friche seminar at Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Michigan, engage the factory’s history, showcasing the ruin and rendering its inverse. Their insertion is an attempt to cultivate enthusiasm for the ruin and to gain support for its transformation, the first step in a forthcoming master plan for Chelsea Common. The space is optically distorting with truncated pyramids that explode from a central cavity to the walls of the enveloping room. Serial cuts punctuate the pyramids, casting light and shadows into the space and further complicating the visitor’s sense of depth, dimension, and scale. Inside, spatially localized speakers layer industrial sounds over readings of texts on ruins from the 18th and 19th centuries, including John Ruskin, Viollet le Duc, and Denis Diderot. The installation will remain in place until the factory is razed.
What do Eero Saarinen and Susan Skarsgard have in common? They both worked for GM: he, the Technical Center in Warren, Michigan, his first great commission; she, graphic design for the Big Three car company for more than 15 years. They also share space at the Museum of the City of New York, where Skarsgard will be giving a talk tomorrow night at 6:30 about her sumptuous, custom-made book as part of the museum's ongoing Saarinen show, Shaping the Future. Weighing 35 pounds, Where Today Meets Tomorrow was painstakingly produced by Skarsgard over a number of years at the Technical Center, which also happens to be her office. The one-of-a-kind book, through which Skarsgard will guide the museum's guest on a virtual tour, includes rarely seen archival materials from GM and Saarinen. We got a few more shots after the jump to whet your appetite, but if that's not enough, check out a book of the same name we just found online produced when the center first opened, with principal photography from none other than Ezra Stoller.