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Yes, they are depressing, too, but there's less of them around Midtown and, if stuck downtown, there's Battery Park, with its views of the harbor, bridges, and Staten Island Ferries coming and going.
Avoid Detroit, have lived here all my life.
Why is that Lance?
Except for a couple of name firms that have been headquartered there, like Smith, and Minoru Yamasaki who was in Bloomfield Hills and whose practice was continued by his daughter, what is the scene like? What kind of work are architects doing, given that the center is not seeing activity? Is it mostly in the suburbs? I sort of wonder the same about Cleveland's architectural community.
Like you said Downtown you have SmithGroup's HQ, Gensler, Albert Kahn, Kraemer, and a few others that are doing good work within the city of Detroit... if the corporate world is your thing.
Plenty of firms in the suburbs as well, like Northville and Farmington Hills.
There are a few firms in Northville doing exciting design work like: www.in-formstudio.com
Overall... I am doing pretty good for myself... better than I have done in other city's with better economies. I honestly cannot complain.
Most of the work for firms here is out of State and Country (mostly in Canada).