Flint Flat Lot’s Floating House draws criticism

Midwest
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
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Photos of the built work were questioned by some commenters. (Gavin Smith, courtesy Two Islands)

Photos of the built work were questioned by some commenters. (Gavin Smith, courtesy Two Islands)

When London-based Two Islands took first place in Flint, Michigan’s first Flat Lot Competition for public art, images of their floating, mirror-clad meditation on the foreclosure crisis turned heads. Six months later the project has been built, but it faced challenges and has drawn criticism making the leap from rendering to reality.

Continue reading after the jump.

Flint Public Art Project’s Free City Fest Reclaims Razed Chevy Site

Midwest
Thursday, May 23, 2013
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Raphaele Shirley, Spinning Circle/Shooting Cloud, 2013. (RA Littlewolf and Whisper Willow)

Raphaele Shirley, Spinning Circle/Shooting Cloud, 2013. (RA Littlewolf and Whisper Willow)

The ongoing efforts of artists and designers to reignite the spark of downtown development in aging industrial cities face no simple task. But as architects and developers begin to put pencil to paper, the best public art projects draw on the spiritual side of that renewal.

Flint, Michigan’s inaugural Free City Festival, held May 3-5, did just that when it revived a mile-long stretch of now-razed Chevrolet plants with public art, transformational lighting displays and a reverberating gospel choir.

Continue reading after the jump.

Kroloff Leaves Full-Time Post at Cranbrook

Midwest, National
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
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SMITHGROUP'S ADDITION ALONGSIDE SAARINEN'S ORIGINAL MUSEUM. JIM HAEFNER

SMITHGROUP’S ADDITION ALONGSIDE SAARINEN’S ORIGINAL MUSEUM. JIM HAEFNER

Reed Kroloff will leave his full-time position as director of Michigan’s Cranbrook Academy of Art and Art Museum for a part-time role, the academy announced Tuesday. In his stead, Cranbrook Trustee and Academy Governor Allan Rothfeder will serve as a special advisor to assist Cranbrook President Dominic DiMarco during the transition period.

Continue reading after the jump.

Flint, Michigan Flat Lot Winners Announced, Floating House Arrives in June

Midwest
Thursday, March 21, 2013
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"Mark's House," by Two Islands, won the inaugural Flat Lot design-build competition in Flint, Mich. (Courtesy Flint Public Art Project and Two Islands)

“Mark’s House,” by Two Islands, won the inaugural Flat Lot design-build competition in Flint, Mich. (Courtesy Flint Public Art Project and Two Islands)

In June a full-block surface parking lot in downtown Flint, Mich. will house a ghostly, floating home — a monument to the ravages of the foreclosure crisis and a nod to the revitalization public art projects like this one hope to further in the one-time home of General Motors.

London-based Two Islands took first place in the inaugural Flat Lot Competition, which comes with a $25,000 prize, for their design, Mark’s House. The story of an imagined Flint resident named Mark Hamilton, whose family loses their home to foreclosure, Mark’s House takes the form of a Tudor-style house clad in reflective panels and set atop a mirrored pedestal. The structure can hold 1,500 gallons of water to be used for cooling mists for visitors to the structure’s canopy and event stage on hot summer days.

Continue reading after the jump.

Investing in Detroit’s Future: Kresge Puts Up $150 Million For Ambitious Plan

Midwest
Thursday, February 14, 2013
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detroit_works_01

The Detroit Works Project has received the economic boost it needed to put its Detroit Future City plan into action. Detroit Free Press reported that the Troy-based, Kresge Foundation will give $150 million over the next five years to help accomplish the objectives outlined in the 347-page plan, which focuses on creating economic growth and building infrastructure in Detroit. A technical team led by Toni Griffin, a New York-based urban planner, crafted an extensive list of recommendations such as blue and green infrastructures, job creation, and management of vacant land.

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.

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’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.

Spatial Ops’ Optical Architecture Engages with Disorientation

Midwest, Newsletter
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
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(Courtesy Spatial Ops)

(Courtesy Spatial Ops)

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. Read More

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