An effort to connect Detroit’s cluster of some of its most significant institutions, including its iconic Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA), announced today that an international team of urban designers, landscape architects, and technology experts had been selected to create a cultural center in the booming Midtown district. In a year-long process, the Midtown Cultural Connections competition selected a team led by Paris-based Agence Ter, Detroit-based architecture and design studio akoaki, Ann Arbor–based hybrid design firm rootoftwo, and University of Michigan assistant professor and urban planner Harley Etienne, along with other partners. The initial design phase, which will bring all parties together to create a formal plan, will take about 18 months, officials said. The Agence Ter team suggested creating a sort of frame around the ten blocks containing a group of cultural institutions, including the DIA, Wayne State University, the Detroit Historical Society, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, the College For Creative Studies, the Michigan Science Center, and the Scarab Club. Within that “Detroit Square,” the project will bring the inside out through “common ground” or communal backyards running between the buildings and their landscapes, to be activated with outdoor cafes, performance spaces, a mobile DJ booth, green spaces, public art, as well as live performance spaces for events. Woodward Avenue, which runs through this district, also may see its massive size reduced. The selection not only inspires pride among the winning team, said akoaki’s Anya Sirota, but it shows how Detroit’s participating institutions and judges are willing to give “an open-ended framework” a chance to succeed. For Sirota, that means the design will continue to evolve as the team works with local stakeholders, residents, and other parties to make the cultural center truly the heart of Midtown Detroit, one of the city’s most revitalized and vibrant neighborhoods. “We took a risk to create a memorable design that was also suggestable,” Sirota said. “We felt strongly that we would need additional feedback on these ideas [and] we’re excited that the jury went with something that allowed for more conversation with stakeholders.” The size and scope of the project are grand, Sirota added, and previous projects involving this area and around Detroit have gone forward without deep feedback, conversation, and consideration of the long-term effect on the city or its residents. This project seeks to “tread lightly” and be sensitive to placemaking within a city that is more than 300 years old and has concerns about issues like gentrification. Sirota also said she is pleased that the plan the winning team is working on will take issues of mobility, environmental sustainability, and stormwater stewardship into consideration. Having a team made up of experts in physical technology, landscaping, urban planning, and design with a Detroit-centic base should provide many new ideas for the cultural center, she noted. Midtown Detroit Inc. and DIA launched the design competition in 2017 to find a team that could unite twelve cultural and educational institutions with a kind of “town square” feel. The goal was to develop a “unified, dynamic, and inclusive space that facilitates connections throughout the Cultural Center,” DIA director Salvador Salort-Pons has said. The Midtown Cultural Connections project had 44 initial submissions from more than 10 countries and 22 cities. Those were winnowed down to eight firms and then three finalists. The other finalists included TEN x TEN of Minneapolis and Mikyoung Kim Design of Boston.
Posts tagged with "Midtown Detroit":
Three finalists have been chosen in the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) and Midtown Detroit, Inc. (MDI) competition to reimagine the campus that connects twelve iconic Detroit cultural institutions. After being narrowed down to eight firms this spring, Agence TER from Paris, France, Mikyoung Kim Design from Boston, and Minneapolis-based TEN x TEN have been unanimously selected by the eight-person jury out of 44 initial submissions, coming from more than ten countries and 22 cities. Each of the firms has secured Detroit-area partners working in diverse roles, from lighting to market strategy. The finalists are charged with studying the site and developing proposals to be presented to the public at the DIA on January 23, 2019, with a concurrent exhibition running until April 2. The winning team is expected to be announced in March 2019. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape how our arts and cultural district operates, and we hope that the public will take advantage of the many planned opportunities to provide feedback on what they would like to see and experience,” said Susan Mosey, Executive Director of Midtown Detroit, Inc. With the DIA and MDI looking to redevelop the area that connects the likes of the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, the Center for Creative Studies, the Scarab Club and, of course, the DIA, the competition looks to attract local and international visitors to these iconic Detroit institutions with a more accessible and user-friendly campus that has the flexibility to support events and public art.
The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) and Midtown Detroit Inc. (MDI) have selected eight finalists for the “DIA Plaza and Midtown Cultural Connections” design competition. The competition seeks to improve the exterior campus of the DIA and refine the spatial relationship between other museums in Midtown, as well as educational institutions like Wayne State University and cultural stalwarts like the Scarab Club. “The overall quality and depth of the submissions far exceeded our expectations,” said Salvador Salort-Pons, DIA director and Chair of the competition jury in a press release. “This is testimony to the exciting challenge of transforming Detroit’s arts and cultural district, which represents more than 12 important cultural institutions in the city and benefits all the residents in the region.” The competition strives for a plan that provides the DIA and Midtown’s stakeholder institutions with a cohesive campus that has the flexibility to support events and public art, attracting both the local visitor and world traveler. The competition also aims to make the campus more accessible and user-friendly, considering ways in which people enter and exit each building while addressing parking and driveway issues. The eight firms will each make public presentations in the DIA’s Danto Lecture Hall on June 13 and 14. The eight finalists are local and global. They include Agence Ter (Paris), Hood Design Studio (Oakland, CA), Mikoung Kim Design (Boston), Spackman Mossop Michaels (Detroit), Stoss Landscape Urbanism (Boston), UNStudio (Amsterdam), Ten x Ten (Minneapolis) and WXY architecture + urban design (New York). Midtown, anchored by Woodward Avenue, has seen significant population and business growth in the last five years, attracted by institutions like the DIA. Yet the area struggles to resolve how to make surrounding streets and public spaces walkable while being bound geographically by freeways.
Dan Gilbert, billionaire founder of Quicken Loans and champion of downtown Detroit commercial real estate, last week announced he will buy the long-vacant 38-story Book Tower skyscraper and two other adjacent buildings on Washington Boulevard. The latest in a series of acquisitions for Gilbert sizable portfolio under Bedrock Real Estate Services, the buildings will cost about $30 million total, to be paid to Vancouver-based AKNO Properties. That's for the 1926 Book Tower, the 13-story Book Building and an adjacent 2-story community center. Read our Q+A with Gilbert’s real estate partner Jim Ketai here. The Detroit Free Press quoted Gilbert as saying he's planning "a game-changing, mixed-use development.” The tower and the Book Building have been vacant since 2009, and renovations are expected to cost more than $100 million.
Given the severity and number of challenges facing Detroit, streetscape improvements might not seem like a very high priority. But in the Motor City's Midtown, one of the city's relatively resurgent neighborhoods, a local planning non-profit is betting that encouraging more bicyclists and pedestrians will be a boon for the area. As a result, Detroit may soon get its first buffered bike lanes. Between Temple Street and Warren Avenue, Midtown’s 2nd Avenue is the target of a substantial road diet, as first reported by ModeShift. As Curbed Detroit put it, “The street is practically wide enough to land a jumbo jet, so carving up this turkey will provide cyclists and drivers with large portions of road,” creating a backbone for bike infrastructure between Wayne State University and the waterfront. The 5-foot bike lanes would run for approximately one mile on both sides of 2nd Avenue, separated from 8-foot parking and 11-foot drive lanes by a 3.5-foot, diagonally striped buffer. Midtown Detroit is pushing the diet as part of a larger campaign to repurpose a slew of extra-wide and outmoded one-way streets in the city’s central business district. City Council has already approved the larger project, which includes opening 2nd Avenue to two-way traffic. In 2012 work began on the "Midtown Loop," which turned two downtown one-ways into two-way streets and made bike lanes out of car lanes in this district dense with cultural institutions and new downtown development. ModeShift reports the project should cost $200,000 plus inspection fees. The Michigan Department of Transportation will oversee the work, which is expected to win some federal money. MDOT previously authorized $1 million for non-car "enhancements" along Cass Avenue in 2014. As MDOT gears up to revamp I-375, alternative transportation advocates are pushing for green space and pedestrian-friendly accoutrements in the wake of the downtown highway's car-centric legacy.
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.