AIA Michigan Needs a New Executive Director.  Detroit, on the water. (Image courtesy Bernt Rostad via Flickr.) AIA Michigan is looking for a new executive director. The 126-year-old, Detroit-based organization needs someone to act as its “ambassador to the broader business and civic community.” Dennis M. King, the search committee chair, is accepting submissions at dmking@hedev.com until the close of business Friday, March 1. More information is available at aiami.com. (Image: Bernt Rostad / Flickr)

 

Detroit’s Belle Isle Could Become a State Park, Save City Millions

Midwest
Monday, January 21, 2013
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Detroit's Belle Isle park. (Courtesy Liza Lagman Sperl via Flickr)

Detroit’s Belle Isle park. (Courtesy Liza Lagman Sperl via Flickr)

The Detroit Free-Press is reporting Belle Isle could become a state park. A public hearing is expected Thursday, and city council could vote on the plan as soon as January 29.

Belle Isle is a 985-acre island in the middle of the Detroit River originally designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. While details are still being negotiated, it appears the plan could save the City of Detroit $8 million per year in operating costs. Though Detroit would still own the land, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources would operate the island as a state park, charging motorists an $11 entry fee. Bicyclists and pedestrians would still get free access.

The potential deal comes on the heels of some good news for Motor City urbanists. In addition to filling out the gaps in the city’s riverwalk, Detroit is moving forward with its M-1 Rail plan, as well as an ongoing $300 million renovation of its Cobo convention center.

Architecture Students Build a Pavilion to Engage Detroit’s Empty Space

Dean's List, Midwest
Friday, November 30, 2012
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Empty Pavilion installation in Detroit.

Empty Pavilion installation in Detroit.

Detroit’s stark unemployment and population loss have spurred plenty of ideas for redevelopment, from new manufacturing to urban agriculture. A recently unveiled piece of public art meditates on one thing the city has in excess: empty space.

Continue reading after the jump.

Foxconn Said to Be Considering Investment in American Manufacturing

International
Thursday, November 15, 2012
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A Foxconn factory in Shenzhen, China. (yandulangzi在线/Google)

A Foxconn factory in Shenzhen, China. (yandulangzi在线/Google)

Much has been made of the decline of American industry and, more recently, the rise of small-scale urban industry, but one of the largest international manufacturers, Taiwan-based Foxconn, could change the industrial scene completely if it decides to build factories in the United States. The Guardian reports that Foxconn is considering Detroit and Los Angeles for potential outposts thanks to rising costs overseas, but the company infamous for manufacturing Apple products among others at its 800,000-worker-strong Chinese facilities would have to adapt to radically different American ways of working.

Continue reading after the jump.

Event> DLECTRICITY Lights Up Detroit

Midwest
Friday, October 5, 2012
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DLECTRICITY begins today and runs through Saturday. (Courtesy DLECTRICITY.)

DLECTRICITY begins today and runs through Saturday. (Courtesy DLECTRICITY.)

Not long after the Detroit Design Festival, Detroit’s design enthusiasts have another event to celebrate: DLECTRICITY begins today and runs through Saturday.

The “contemporary light art festival” features 35 local, national, and international artists who will illuminate historic structures in Midtown Detroit. Buildings including the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Michigan Science Center, and the Detroit Public Library will become canvases for 3D video mapping, laser displays, and light sculptures.

Click here for a full schedule and map of the events.

Hotel Made from Shipping Containers Planned for Detroit’s Eastern Market

Midwest
Thursday, September 6, 2012
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Collision Works would be a boutique hotel made from shipping containers in Detroit's Eastern Market area. (Courtesy Detroit Collaborative Design Center.)

Collision Works would be a boutique hotel made from shipping containers in Detroit’s Eastern Market area. (Courtesy Detroit Collaborative Design Center.)

Following the many interesting developments in Detroit these days, one gets a sense that the city’s post-industrial landscape is fertile ground for innovative design. A boutique hotel made of shipping containers seems to back up that trend.

Collision Works, as the project is called, touts the structural merits of shipping containers. “Shipping containers are considerably more durable than standard construction, can cost less, and most importantly are about 30 percent faster to build,” writes project founder Shel Kimen.

Continue reading after the jump.

Detroit Riverfront Design Competition Nets Libeskind as Judge

Midwest
Thursday, August 9, 2012
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A pool in Daniel Libeskind's Westside retail center collapsed (Mike Bischoff/Flickr)

Daniel Libeskind’s Westside retail center. (Mike Bischoff/Flickr)

Starchitect Daniel Libeskind will help judge this year’s Detroit by Design competition to design public spaces along the Detroit River. AIA’s Detroit Chapter is a sponsor of the competition, which will focus on the area between Cobo Hall and the Renaissance Center, and between Jefferson Avenue and the Detroit River. The site includes an entrance to the tunnel to Canada, the Port Authority Building, and Hart Plaza—a 14-acre space at the heart of downtown.

Submissions are open through November 30. If Libeskind and the other jurors like your design, you could win $5,000 and a trip to the Motor City.

View the competition site after the jump.

Detroit’s Lafayette Towers Skirt Auction Block, For Now

Midwest
Friday, July 27, 2012
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Detroit stalled HUD's planned auction of the Mies towers. (COURTESY GEHAD HADIDI VIA FLICKR.)

Detroit stalled HUD’s planned auction of the Mies towers. (Courtesy GEHAD HADIDI/FLICKR.)

It looks like Mies van der Rohe’s Lafayette Towers in Detroit may avoid the auction block a little longer. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) foreclosed on the high-rise apartment buildings in February, and HUD had planned to put them up for auction this month (albeit with a litany of multi-million-dollar renovations required of the lucky winner).

Detroit exercised its first right of refusal on that course of action, wary of the iconic towers falling into the wrong hands. New York-based Northern Group bought the buildings in 2008 for $16 million in cash, but stopped making payments on its loans by 2010. The towers were transferred to HUD soon after. Now the city’s group for planning and facilities is seeking a private owner to bring the buildings back from disrepair.

Detroit RiverWalk gets $44 Million from Feds and State

Midwest
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
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Detroit, on the water. (Image courtesy Bernt Rostad via Flickr.)

Detroit, on the water. (Image courtesy Bernt Rostad via Flickr.)

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.

Continue reading after the jump.

Michigan Looks to Raze Derelict Homes in Detroit

Midwest
Thursday, July 19, 2012
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Demolition happening today in Detroit. (Courtesy Curbed Detroit)

Demolition happening today in Detroit. (Courtesy Curbed Detroit)

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.

Detroit Mayor Endorses Seed Money for Urban Agriculture

Midwest
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
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earthworks farm Detroit

EARTHWORKS FARM SERVES CAPUCHIN SOUP KITCHEN, A LOCAL FARMERS MARKET AND GLEANER'S FOOD BANK. (COURTESY A HEALTHIER MICHIGAN/FLICKR.)

Despite the Motor City’s notoriety as a symbol of urban decay, development is actually going on in Detroit. And with almost 40 square miles of vacant land, Detroit has the chance to redefine urban renewal outright. The city recently took note of one major way some residents are turning blight into bounty: Mayor David Bing signed off on Michigan State University’s plan to seed urban agriculture in Detroit with $1.5 million over the next three years.

Read More

Mies Blocks on the Block in Detroit.  Detroit stalled HUD's planned auction of the Mies towers. (COURTESY GEHAD HADIDI VIA FLICKR.)  Mies van der Rohe’s Lafayette Towers are up for sale. It’s a striking reminder of the symbiosis between cities and iconic architecture—one which speaks to the mercurial nature of Detroit’s real estate market since World War II. The twin high-rises were foreclosed in February, and will go up for auction later this month. All 584 apartment units will go to the highest bidder July 18, but this is no ordinary sale. The Department of Housing and Urban Development will require the lucky winner to spend more than $10 million on an 80-page list of renovations to the historic buildings, and invest $2.5 million in an escrow account for HUD to hedge their risk.

 

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