Letter to the Editor> Motor City Mouthful

Detroit's Michigan Central Station. (Juan N Only / Flickr)

Detroit’s Michigan Central Station. (Juan N Only / Flickr)

[Editor's Note: The following comment was left on archpaper.com in response to the editorial “Motoring Toward Destruction?” (AN 08_06.05.2014), which parsed the wisdom of Detroit’s blight removal program.Opinions expressed in letters to the editor do not necessarily reflect the opinions or sentiments of the newspaper. AN welcomes reader letters, which could appear in our regional print editions. To share your opinion, please email editor@archpaper.com. ]

I’m failing to find a thesis in here, other than wholesale demolition = bad, which is something we’re well aware of. Other considerations that weren’t even mentioned in this are aspects of public safety (arson and the use of dilapidated structures in which to commit crimes, peddle drugs, etc.) and the question of revenue (clearing blighted structures for redevelopment). The article even mentions that of the 80,000 blighted structures, we’re attempting to save more than half.

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Detroit doubles down on startups and young creatives with new “innovation district”

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

Detroit (Image courtesy Bernt Rostad via Flickr)

As Detroit nears the one year anniversary of the largest municipal bankruptcy filing in U.S. history, creative professionals in a busy downtown corridor are the target of a Washington, D.C.–funded “innovation district” that hopes startups will rev Detroit’s stalled economic engine. Read More

Frustrated transit advocates blast ballot delay by Detroit’s Regional Transit Agency

detroit_light_rail_01

Detroiters have heard before that the Motor City could see better mass transit as soon as 2015. Local and state leaders came together in 2012 to form the area’s first regional transit agency (RTA), but Streetsblog reported locals are losing patience with Michigan’s newest RTA.

More after the jump.

Revive two Detroit viaducts in this Michigander-only contest

Two viaducts in Detroit will host public art interventions. (Ash Arder)

Two viaducts in Detroit will host public art interventions. (Ash Arder)

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. Read More

Ten Roads Whose Time Has Come: Congress for the New Urbanism Releases List of Freeways Ripe for Removal

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Detroit's I-375 made the list.

Detroit’s I-375 made the list. (gab482/flickr)

The Congress for the New Urbanism has released their annual list of Freeways Without Futures. The organization selected the top 10 urban American (and one Canadian) highways most in need of removal. The final list was culled from nominations from more than 50 cities. Criteria for inclusion included age of the freeway, the potential that removal would have to positively effect the areas where the roadways are currently situated, and the amount of momentum to realize such removals. Additionally the CNU highlighted campaigns in Dallas, the Bronx, Pasadena, Buffalo, and Niagra Falls, that are taking significant steps towards removing freeways (some of which have been included in past lists) as illustrations of broader institutional and political shifts on urban infrastructural thinking.

The dubious list after the jump.

Chicago Mulls Zoning Changes To Ward Off Mountains of Petcoke

Midwest, Newsletter
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
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Petcoke stored along the Calumet River on Chicago's Southeast Side, between 106th and 100th streets. (Josh Mogerman via Flickr)

Petcoke stored along the Calumet River on Chicago’s Southeast Side, between 106th and 100th streets. (Josh Mogerman / Flickr)

Piles of dusty, black waste from coal and petroleum processing have been piling up on Chicago’s southeast side, angering residents and prompting Mayor Rahm Emanuel to weigh in on the contentious environmental issue.

The Sun-Times has reported that Emanuel will introduce an ordinance at next month’s City Council meeting banning new storage facilities for so-called petcoke—a byproduct of the oil refinery process that can be sold overseas. It’s a step back from an outright ban proposed in December by Alderman Edward Burke, whose constituents were outraged by black dust clouds wafting from uncovered piles of petcoke along the Calumet River. Read More

Detroit Clears Land for a Downtown Park and a Massive Urban Forest

Midwest
Monday, November 4, 2013
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A rendering of the future park from DTE.

A rendering of the future park from DTE.

With Detroit bankrupt and under the authority of a state-appointed emergency manager, all options for the city’s future are on the table. But not all news out of the infamously depopulated city is about cutting back. A new park downtown broke ground this week, and plans surfaced for a massive urban forest on Detroit’s southeast side.

Continue reading after the jump.

A River of Light Flows Through Detroit’s Renovated First National Building

Midwest, Newsletter
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
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(Courtesy Chris & Michelle Gerard)

(Courtesy Chris & Michelle Gerard)

Curbed Detroit drew our attention to that city’s Fist National Building and its year-long renovation. The Albert Kahn-designed building opened in 1930. Its interiors have fallen into disrepair, including the original plaster ceiling.

Continue reading after the jump.

Review> Set Designer Harnesses Nostalgia for Detroit in AMC’s New Series, “Low Winter Sun”

National, Newsletter
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
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(Courtesy AMC)

(Courtesy AMC)

Nostalgia (nóstos), meaning “homecoming”, a Homeric word, and (álgos), meaning “pain, ache”, and was coined by a 17th-century medical student to describe the anxieties displayed by Swiss mercenaries fighting away from home. Ruth Ammon, set designer for the AMC television series, Low Winter Sun, used this word to describe the series in its most honorable sense. This tale of morality uses the architecture of Detroit’s heyday, to embody the pride of the city which elevated middle working class life.

It is poignant that the city’s decline is also apparent in every frame, rather than pimping these noble structures like urban porn. Whether featuring Albert Kahn’s Packard Automotive Plant, 1903-11 (the production offices were next door to this location, one of the largest parcels of unoccupied real estate in the Western hemisphere); Kahn’s Detroit Police Headquarters at 1300 Beaubien St., 1923 (given the same role in the series, but now under threat since the PDP moved out); the art deco David Stott Building of 1929 by Donaldson and Meier; St. Hyacinth Roman Catholic Church, 1924 by Donaldson and Meier; or the Venetian Gothic Ransom Gillis House, 1876-78 (documented extensively by photographer Camilo Jose Vergara), these were deliberate choices.

Continue reading after the jump.

As Detroit Struggles With Bankruptcy, Auction House Appraises Prized Art Collection

Midwest
Thursday, August 8, 2013
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Detroit Institute of Art. (quick fix via flickr)

Detroit Institute of Art. (quick fix / flickr)

Even as Detroit’s municipal bankruptcy reverberates among residents and onlookers alike, the city’s art scene shines on.

Unfortunately for the Detroit Institute of Art, red ink may yet claim its city-owned collection. This week the museum confirmed Christie’s Appraisals had been hired to appraise a portion of the cultural institution’s holdings. But an appraisal is not a sale.

Continue reading after the jump.

Mixed-Use Development Planned for the Detroit Riverfront

Midwest
Thursday, August 1, 2013
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(Economic Development Corp. of the City of Detroit)

(Economic Development Corp. of the City of Detroit)

Detroit’s Economic Development Corp. gave a preliminary green light to at least 291 low-rise units of housing and retail space along five blocks of the Detroit riverfront.

St. Louis-based McCormack Baron Salazar, whose CEO Richard Baron is a Detroit native, would first build the three- to four-story townhouses and apartment buildings along Atwater and Franklin Streets, between the Dequindre Cut Greenway and Riopelle Street. The site borders the Detroit Riverwalk and Tricentennial State Park. If that goes well, the firm could develop a second phase to add 200 rentals or condo units, as well as more retail and restaurants.

More after the jump.

Design Competition Reimagines Detroit’s Hudson’s Department Store Site

Midwest
Thursday, July 25, 2013
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First place winner, “MINICITY Detroit,” by Davide Marchetti and Erin Pellegrino.

First place winner, “MINICITY Detroit,” by Davide Marchetti and Erin Pellegrino.

Submissions to the “Redesigning Detroit” competition matched the enthusiasm of its sponsor, Rock Ventures / Quicken Loans, in envisioning a future for the once iconic J.L. Hudson’s department store on Woodward Avenue downtown. Demolished 15 years ago, the 25-story tower left a physical and symbolic gap in the city’s urban fabric that the competition asked its entrants to repair.

“You couldn’t ask for a more exciting piece of property to redevelop, and one that can have such a profound impact on how Detroit feels about itself and sees itself,” said Reed Kroloff, outgoing director of the Cranbrook Academy of Art and advisor on the competition.

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