Post Industrial Greenscape Generator. The reclamation and revitalization of post industrial landscapes constitutes an important architectural, cultural and economical objective that is inherently sustainable through the reappropriation of resources. The decline of the industrial sector has created a shrinking urban condition resulting in an abundance of unused structures. These abandoned buildings deteriorate after decades of neglect. Now, structures are being reused as artist lofts, offices, warehouses, etc, but this plan can never sustain itself as a holistic solution. To reuse all the abandoned structures would require one resource that is not readily available, people. At the height of the industrial boom, Detroit was the fourth largest city in the United States with 1.8 million people. Now it has 850,000. No amount of creativity is going to bring in a million new inhabitants. One must accept the shrinkage and plan accordingly. Detroit must use what resources it has left in a manner that revitalizes not only the environment, but the economy. By taking structures now void of value and function and reappropriating their resources, one gives them purpose. By mining the post industrial landscape, one creates the new from the old. It creates opportunities for a demography that is currently without. Scrapping becomes a profession utilizing the city’s blue collar heritage. It rids the city of the decay and blight associated with abandonment. The landscape is regenerated, creating a public space marked with reminders of past successes and failures. The abandoned Packard Plant on Detroit’s East Grand Boulevard is one of the largest ruins in Detroit at 3.5 million square feet. Its location in the urban context supports a public space because of its relation to East Grand and the rail. The rail is the key to Detroit’s revitalization. Proposals have been made to establish a public transit along the rail and to tear them up and reuse them as greenways. The rail also allows easy export of raw material. The Packard Plant contains enough concrete to fill a train 16 miles long. This concrete can be reused as aggregate in Portland Cement. The building is oriented about a gantry which is used to excavate the site as well as construct the new building. The west half of the project is a technical campus or “school for scrappers,” where individuals are encourage to reuse site’s materials as objects in the landscape. The school is arranged from public to private with an industrial hall at the base and classrooms and offices above. Terminating the west end are a series of artist’s residences where visiting artists are invited to come and contribute to the site. The east structure is the Packard archive and museum which is divided by the double height gantry way. The archive is located on the north side, illuminated with clerestory windows. The museum is oriented about a truncated void containing a time line of the site’s history. At ground level, visitors can experience the void and meditate about the history terminating in the sky above. The gantry’s presence is felt throughout the building as translucent floor panels allow occupants to be ever away of the site’s excavation. The void between the programs is the lobby, mediating visitors between the two and creating a threshold to the site beyond. The site is arranged about pedestrian street created from the bricks of the former plant. Trees are planted throughout the site as a means of treating the brown site. PIGG proposes a radical shift in perceptions of adaptive reuse by analyzing is at a material level. It acts as a prototype for the treatment of the post industrial landscape.
Status: School Project
Location: Detroit, MI, US
Additional Credits: Photography - Martin G. Meyers