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    Request For Proposal

    Chili Davis Sep 12 '06 13

    As I had mentioned in a previous post, this semesters Integrated Design Studio will be focusing on urban design. Our project is to develop a proposal for a project situated in downtown Detroit, on the site of what used to be the Madison Lenox Hotel. The lot sits directly across from the Albert Kahn designed Detroit Athletic Club. The site is the current home to a parking lot owned by parking mogul Mike Ilitch, who also owns the Detroit Tigers. The building was knocked down shortly before Super Bowl 40, when is was deemed an unsafe structure. The lot was, and still is, awaiting beautification promised by the owner. The development we have been charged with creating is pretty much up in the air. The only criteria is that it house facilities that would attract a diverse mix of people to the downtown area. We will analyze the site, from the macro environment down to the site itself. We will then prepare a proposal in an attempt to draw people to Detroit. Our goal will be to create something on the level of Millennium Park in Chicago, or the Guggenheim in Spain.

    *Much of this entry was paraphrased from the project description.

     

     
    • 13 Comments

    • myriam
      Sep 12, 06 12:15 pm

      Hmm. The Guggenheim might not be your best example.

      Remember why Millenium Park works--because it has spaces for activity. Activity draws people, who then filter out in the "beauty" parts and enjoy that. Key to Millenium Park seems to be the free concert/film venu, and the fountain installation, which has been packed every single time I've been by it in good weather. In bad weather there is ice skating right next to it. These two things draw the locals surprisingly well. There is also the Art Institute on the edge of the park, which helps.

      Not sure how great any of this would work, however, if there weren't the backdrop of such an amazing skyline. And activity already existing on bustling Michigan Ave, full of shops. Just a thought. Been reading a lot of Jane Jacobs recently.

      jonathanharper
      Sep 12, 06 12:35 pm

      hey chili,

      i actually just returned from a interesting trip to detriot. It was my first time spending any amount of time there and I was amazed at the high percentage of abandon buildings in the downtown core. Some of these buildings were just beautiful and exactly the type that others are craving to convert to condos and multi use buildings in other cities.
      I understand that the population of detriot is going down (sadly) but why are people not taking this opportunity to move downtown? I guess that there is little to do downtown therefore there is no real reason to live down there? I think this may be the hole you are looking to fill. You must create something that will draw not tourists (in my mind) but real people from detroit. I would recommend looking into the general pepulation of detriot and finding their interests.. then from your findings create an environment which will draw them back into the city.
      Most importantly... remember you live in a temperate climate!!! I know you are aware of this but how many times have you seen a city drop major cash on a place that is really only functional about 3 months a year? Think about the cities drainage system/pipes running under the paths to melt ice? There are so many options!
      Best of luck and if you want to throw some ideas around around feel free to contact.
      take care,
      jonathan

      brian buchalski
      Sep 12, 06 1:07 pm

      a building proposal will not help detroit.

      detroit has architecture.

      detroit needs people.

      Chili Davis
      Sep 12, 06 1:20 pm

      Puddles, I agree that while widely unknown, Detroit has a fantastic collection of architecture. It would be a dream come true if Detroit could experience a population boom and once again fill these beautiful buildings. I think you may have missed the intent of this project, however. We are not simply creating a building in downtown Detroit. Our aim is to create a facility that will spark interest in the downtown area, in addition to the other diverse activities in Detroit. The hope would be that with enough activity in the city, people would regain the desire to inhabit downtown, instead of the migration to the suburbs we have been witnessing as of late. We are not simply building in Detroit, we are building interest.

      myriam
      Sep 12, 06 1:35 pm

      Good luck. sounds like a fun project. Jonathanharper is absolutely right--talk to the locals, get a sense of them, talk to those suburbanites who left, ask them what it would take to get them back, what they'd be interested in... interviewing is surprisingly difficult--it might be worth looking at a couple sociology articles or books just giving tips on how to interview the populace well. the strenght of your project will be in its approach more than its architecture.

      brian buchalski
      Sep 12, 06 1:59 pm

      you've got a serious uphill battle with local michigan residents. you're best bet to get people in the city is to think in terms of immigrants, especially those desperate souls from third world/developing countries. it's no coincidence that mexicantown is presently one of the most vibrant communities in detroit.

      Chili Davis
      Sep 12, 06 2:02 pm

      ...and delicious!!!

      jonathanharper
      Sep 12, 06 8:05 pm

      this sounds to me like more of a research project.. then apres that a architecture project.. although i am sure research is a huge part.. it should be your focal point from the get go.. and then slowly evolve into a functional form that will draw people back into downtown detroit.

      ps- its too bad there is an ikea already 20min from your site.. haha.. that would have made the direction to go in much easier.. just build a damm ikea.. and the people will come! haha.

      Oops!!
      Sep 13, 06 11:28 am

      I think you should consult Phil from the ACRC...I'm pretty sure he could write you a script that would get people to move back to Detroit...or crash your computer.

      maya mcdifference
      Sep 13, 06 9:26 pm

      phil will also play really awful music for you, which would actually prompt you to move away from detroit.

      jonathanharper
      Sep 13, 06 10:20 pm

      Phil sounds great! haha

      Oops!!
      Sep 14, 06 2:05 pm

      if you see phil making out with his GF, you would more than likely vomit on his freshly formated hard drive...that would end the bad music and people would return to the D. Unless, of course, those people saw phil making out with his GF, in which case, people would move away from detroit.

      maya mcdifference
      Sep 14, 06 6:55 pm

      hehe. seeing phil's GF eating chinese food with her bare hands will first, spoil your appetite, and then prompt you to move away from detroit.

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