Unmasking the Motor City: New mapping software by LOVELAND Technologies is helping to fight blight in Detroit

City Terrain, Midwest, Technology, Urbanism
Thursday, August 20, 2015
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Property in Detroit (Courtesy Google Street View Time Machine)

Detroit is in the midst of the single-largest tax foreclosure in American History. More than 60,000 foreclosed properties are clustered in the Motor City. The threat of eviction looms over remaining inhabitants and poses the larger long-term threat of a spike in homelessness. The root of the problem—unpaid property taxes—seems untenable when viewed alongside the resulting greater city-wide disaster.

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Restoration work brings new windows to long-vacant Michigan Central Station in Detroit

After years of dilapidation, Michigan Central Station boasts new windows on some floors. (FOX 2 Detroit)

After years of dilapidation, Michigan Central Station boasts new windows on some floors. (FOX 2 Detroit)

There are few buildings as emblematic of the urban blight in Detroit as Michigan Central Station. That changed slightly this week, when new windows appeared in some of the historic building’s vacant frames.

Continue reading after the jump.

Mies van der Rohe’s Lafayette Park complex in Detroit was just named a national landmark

"Lafayette Tower West After A Storm," shot in HDR. (Bryan Debus via Flickr)

“Lafayette Tower West After A Storm,” shot in HDR. (Bryan Debus via Flickr)

More than 50 years after its construction, the single-largest collection of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe‘s built work is now a national landmark. The National Park Service on Tuesday designated Detroit‘s Lafayette Park its 2,564th National Historic Landmark, validating the efforts of the Michigan State Historic Preservation Office, which began the documentation and nomination process in 2012. Quinn Evans Architects of Ann Arbor led those efforts as part of the preservation group’s Michigan Modern Project.

Continue reading after the jump.

Video> Historic hotel demolished to clear way for Detroit’s new Red Wings hockey arena

The abandoned Hotel Eddystone (left) and Park Avenue Hotel (right), near the Masonic Temple; Midtown Detroit. (Aidan Wakely-Mulroney via Flickr)

The abandoned Hotel Eddystone (left) and Park Avenue Hotel (right), near the Masonic Temple; Midtown Detroit. (Aidan Wakely-Mulroney via Flickr)

The implosion of an historic Detroit hotel on Saturday helped clear the way for a $650 million hockey arena that developers say will more than pay for itself in economic ripple effects, but critics see the demolition as the latest casualty of an ill-conceived scheme receiving public financing.

Continue reading after the jump.

Architects and artists want to turn this vacant Detroit home into a community opera house

(House Opera)

(House Opera)

Detroit‘s 90,000 vacant homes and residential lots have proven to be fertile ground for artistic exploration, giving rise to verdant floral installations and canvases for sought-after graffiti artists. Now architects and artists from The D and beyond hope to turn an abandoned property at 1620 Morrell Street into something truly surprising. Read More

Illuminating Detroit: 40,000 LEDs are installed ahead of schedule

Lighting, Midwest, Urbanism
Monday, June 22, 2015
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Detroit at night. (Steve Lietzau via Flickr)

Detroit at night. (Steve Lietzau via Flickr)

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. Read More

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

Architecture, Media, National
Tuesday, June 16, 2015
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Architectural Record covers.

Architectural Record covers.

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.

Continue reading after the jump.

The 2015 winners of the Rudy Bruner Awards serve up a healthy dose of urban excellence

Architecture, Awards, National, Urbanism
Thursday, June 11, 2015
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MILLER’S COURT IN BALTIMORE, MD. (COURTESY BILLY MICHELS)

MILLER’S COURT IN BALTIMORE, MD. (COURTESY BILLY MICHELS)

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.”

See the winners after the jump.

Detroit gets its feet wet with “blue infrastructure”

Downtown Detroit, as seen from the Detroit Riverwalk in 2012. (Kevin Chang via Flickr)

Downtown Detroit, as seen from the Detroit Riverwalk in 2012. (Kevin Chang via Flickr)

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.

Continue reading after the jump.

Passive House Laboratory by GO Logic

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The University of Chicago's Warren Woods Ecology Field Station is the first Passive House-certified laboratory in North America. (Trent Bell Photography)

The University of Chicago’s Warren Woods Ecology Field Station is the first Passive House-certified laboratory in North America. (Trent Bell Photography)

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.

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Pictorial> Studio Gang’s sylvan retreat in Kalamazoo, Michigan

(Iwan Baan)

(Iwan Baan)

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.

View the images after the jump.

Old-School Meets New in Stantec’s Pew Library

Architecture, Envelope, Midwest
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
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Pew Library's multi-hued stone facade nods to the campus's historic brick and limestone architecture. (Courtesy SHW Group, now Stantec)

Pew Library’s multi-hued stone facade nods to the campus’s historic brick and limestone architecture. (Courtesy SHW Group, now Stantec)

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.
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