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    The Rebirth of Cool

    By Chili Davis
    Sep 28, '06 10:23 AM EST

    We were required to complete a design proposal for our planned development in downtown Detroit. This was a very informal activity followed by a pin up. No one was exactly sure what to include in this proposal, because no one had ever done one before. We weren't given a lot of details from the instructor, just to show what it is we plan to do with our site, and to do so graphically. I think he might have a slight addiction to the word "cool," but I'm not so certain he knows what cool is. I included in my proposal a mapping I had done, showing some important activity nodes in the area, and the pedestrian linkages between those nodes, and how these linkages relate to our site. I also did a graphic showing the quantity of spaces I plan to include in the site, as well as some inspiration of what I think this building should be. I also included a grapic from the cool city project, which I altered slightly to make it fit into my presentation. I have no idea what this graphic accomplishes, but I thought it was way to sweet to leave out! This was a very primative presentation and was meant to give us direction and goals as we develop our projects throughout the semester.






    • vado retro

      is downtown detroit densly populated or is there a bunch of surface parking and empty lots? is there a need/desire for the skyscraper or perhaps we should look at the idea of the landscraper?

      Sep 28, 06 10:57 am
      Chili Davis

      There is quite a bit of surface parking, however, the lot we are limited to is a 100 X 300 area.

      Sep 28, 06 11:16 am

      have you questioned the premise, then?

      Sep 28, 06 11:24 am
      Chili Davis

      We are to assume this lot as the major focus of the development. We are permitted, if we desire, to extend the building to two additional surface parking lots located adjacent to the site on the east and the west, both of which are across a 2 lane road. The site also backs up to a hotel, which is to be left undisturbed. No other premises will be considered for this project.

      Sep 28, 06 11:29 am

      Wait, you are supposed to revitalize downtown detroit by building on one pre-delineated block????

      Sep 28, 06 11:30 am
      Chili Davis

      That appears to be the notion.

      Sep 28, 06 11:32 am

      yeah, i was talking about the premise, not the premises.

      Sep 28, 06 11:44 am

      yes [Steven]! if you feel so compelled, challange the project brief. enough with this "We are permitted..." nonsense. do what feels right, or at least ask the questions...

      Sep 28, 06 11:45 am
      Chili Davis

      Sorry Steven, I misread your question. I guess what the aim is here is for a development to attract people to the downtown area. It's not going to revitalize the downtown area by itself, but hopefully become a destination for people in Detroit, which would lead to future developments toward the revitalization. I suppose it would be a step in the direction of progress, and not a leap in the direction of reemergence.

      Sep 28, 06 11:48 am

      (however, this strategy has, on at least one occassion, led to a student - who will remain nameless - being kindly asked to switch studios... :-)

      Sep 28, 06 11:51 am

      Chilli, fuck that shit. You can't revitalize a city in one block. Ugh. If so, then Cleveland would be paradise. Hmm. I would challenge this idea. Hmm. Either extend beyond the boundaries or say, look, this ain't gonna revitalize shit, so I'm just gonna make a library/job center/soup kitchen for the bums that are roaming the adjacent empty lots I'm not doing anything with. Cities are about people. Fuck this "architecture on one block will save the world" bullshit and cater to the people that are already there and need help. Screw these fucking urban lofts bullshit. What does Detroit need, imaginary rich people to move into some high-above-the-fray loft and look down on all the needy people going through their trash below?! Why would rich people want to move in there, anyway? Are you guys examining that aspect of it?

      Sep 28, 06 11:53 am
      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...
      Posted by: Chili Davis on Sep 12, 06 | 10:20 am
      Sep 28, 06 11:55 am
      Chili Davis

      Hmmm... Myriam, do you know any good books on library/job center/soup kitchen architecture? ;-) Actually, my instructor is all for gentrification and hopes that the imaginary rich people will move in, or just average people. As to the why they would want to move, that is what we are trying to create. We are trying to discover what the area is lacking and what people want and give them exactly that.

      Sep 28, 06 11:59 am
      hopefully become a destination for people in Detroit

      Then make a soup kitchen/job center/library/free computer training/goodwill center.

      If you want to make a destination for people outside Detroit, that you're trying to lure back in, then that's a different matter.

      Hey Chilli, have you ever seen David Adjaye's library thingy in London? You should check that out maybe.
      Sep 28, 06 12:03 pm

      Oh for fuck's sake, your instructor's brief is lying, then. Instructor doesn't want you do have anything to do with people IN detroit. Please. This depresses me. I'm so tired of imaginary rich people and their fuckin' lofts in "depressed" places. Make a big fucking WalMart on your site so all the down-and-outers have fuckin' jobs. Now THAT will help detroit. Ha ha ha ha ha.

      Also, there are tons of examples for the building type I mentioned above. All over Paris and other countries that actually acknowledge their citizens who don't have money. ARGH.

      Sep 28, 06 12:09 pm
      Chili Davis

      The Idea Store? I haven't but I will. Thank you all again for your input.

      Sep 28, 06 12:10 pm

      [digression] nifty article in this past month's dwell about downtown detroit. you've probably already seen it. despite the fact that it's a report sponsored by saturn/gm, the writer makes some pretty savvy opservations about cars and people and how space gets used when the people leave and what can interest them in coming back. [digression over]

      i actually think expensive housing CAN work as a catalyst, when part of a larger picture including other kinds of development: housing for those of lesser incomes, places to go/eat/play, and support services.

      have you surveyed the area yet to determine where your occupants will shop for groceries, get their shoes repaired, get their laundry cleaned, mail a letter, grab a beer and a pizza? can you provide any of this as part of your project? in that way you can not only provide housing for a few but provide an amenity to the larger environment.

      keep thinking. we're not picking on you, but trying to spur you to look beyond the assignment you're given and determine what it COULD be.

      Sep 28, 06 12:11 pm

      sorry it's just that I work in rapidly gentrifying area of Boston where the real life of the city--the communities that were here before and have been here for centuries--are being pushed out and have nowhere to live now, and meanwhile I can't afford a fucking rented apartment in this town. Also, Chicago is pissing me off because they seem to build NOTHING but upscale "loft" buildings everywhere and there is no housing left for non-rich people. Which is stupid on so many, many levels...

      Sep 28, 06 12:13 pm

      Chilli your attitude of willingness to take us seriously and listen is very impressive!!!! It's great that you're not taking it personally. Good for you and good luck.

      Sep 28, 06 12:15 pm
      le bossman

      it doesn't have to be one or the other. even a rich man's high rise can incorporated elements for the forgotten people. a project in detroit that try's to attract money and cater to people's needs would be a real step forward, in my mind. i actually think the most appropriate site for these types of interventions would be right at the gratiot street off-ramp, between lafayette park and eastern market. that was the site, and the premise, of my thesis.

      Sep 28, 06 12:17 pm

      Yeah, it doesn't have to be one or the other. It doesn't have to be on that site location, either. Good luck challenging the brief.

      And yes, I meant the IDEA store Whitechapel. It's really interesting--see if you can find something to read about on it. Here's a random flickr link. Okay I'm done.

      Sep 28, 06 12:28 pm

      chili - before you start rebeling, figure out what makes the critic tick and if you can get away with it....

      but most instructors will welcome an inteligent challenge to their project, just don't make it personal.

      Sep 28, 06 1:36 pm

      i'm always a supporter of challenging the brief... as long as you have solid ideas as to why the project should be different... in one of my grad studios we were designing a new aquarium for atlanta and our site was at that time the actual site for the real project (it eventually changed sites to its current location off of millenial park)... i thought that the proposed site was ridiculous and made a compelling argument for an alternate site...

      also, regarding the library/job center/soup kitchen idea... the cafe in the seattle central library (OMA/Koolhaas) is run by FareStart which is a soup kitchen/job training sorta thing...

      Sep 28, 06 3:13 pm
      brian buchalski

      there's already plenty in downtown detroit generating interest for outsiders (ballparks, casinos, etc.). the one thing you could add that help people living there & encourage others to consider living downtown would be a grocery store.

      what detroit definitely does not need is another tall building...not yet anyhow. there's plenty of empty ones already.

      what might be "cool" is if you designed it to be left vacant & available to vandals & homeless people. or maybe as another opportunity for an urban explorer to add to his list of accomplishments since some people really dig hanging out in big empty buildings.

      speaking of detroit & outside interest, did anybody else catch the kate moss & bruce weber pictorial in the recent issue of w magazine? i was rather impressed that they dedicated fifty-four pages to detroitness and by that i mean including real people & places in the city's neighborhoods and not the gems downtown or out in the 'burbs.

      Sep 28, 06 3:42 pm
      vado retro

      kick out the jams mofo's!!!!!

      Sep 28, 06 4:48 pm
      brian buchalski

      mc5 is least 2/5ths dead, anyhow

      time for something new?

      Sep 28, 06 5:15 pm

      i'm sure that chili knows this, unless it's a coincidence that he named today's post 'the rebirth of cool', but today's the anniversary of the death of miles davis.

      miles was cool (but not from detroit). mc5 was cool. iggy was/is cool. are raconteurs cool enough to follow in their footsteps or are they too self-consciously 'cool'?

      Sep 28, 06 5:46 pm
      brian buchalski

      for those who aren't aware, there's been an additional connotation added to the word "cool" since michigan's governor initiated a "cool cities" project about three years ago aimed at retaining michigan's youngsters who have been migrating elsewhere.

      the governor feels that michigan's cities aren't "cool" enough to attract the youngster. personally, i disagree. detroit, for example, is plenty cool's just not much of a city.

      Sep 28, 06 6:09 pm
      vado retro

      the mc5 will never die. i noticed indianastan has some kind of iniative to bring "smart" people to the state from places like new york. last time i checked all the cool smart people in places like new york are originally from the midwest.

      Sep 28, 06 6:29 pm
      vado retro

      cities like chicago are experiencing reverse migration. wealth(ier) people moving into the city driving up demand and prices, working class moving out. take a look at the commutes its lots of service workers riding the metra into town these days. service workers dpes include most architecturally oriented jobs in my definition.

      Sep 28, 06 6:31 pm
      le bossman

      was mc5 that cool? a lot of it just strikes me as noise

      what the hell is w magazine?

      i don't think michigan's problem is a lack of coolness; personally i think its a lack of mountains. what she should do is set off a WMD in the mid-continental rift, in hopes it will erupt again.

      granholm's idea isn't bad, attracting the creative class. i've met literally dozens of people from my hometown (grand rapids) in arizona and montana. i'm not sure she's going about it correctly though.

      Sep 28, 06 7:33 pm
      vado retro

      mc5 noize??? me know think zo.

      Sep 28, 06 8:31 pm

      I agree that every problem in the midwest originates in the lack of mountains! We need more then a few WMDs to start plate tectonics moving again. How about getting the supervolcano at yellowstone to erupt?

      Sep 29, 06 11:41 am

      i know I have been critial of your previous posts, but trust me on this. LTU will do nothing for you unless you want to become the typical CAD jockey, no name, harley ellis architect. you can make money that way, but you may not be happy unless you can separate your happiness from your work. that is not architecture.

      as you probably guessed, i am recent (very recent) graduate of that "fine" institution, who is working on a grad degree from a much more demanding program. LTU did not prepare me at all for this experience and I spend more time trying to catch up than advancing what I already know. please email me and fill me in on ourself, the project, your professor, and anything else you think is relavent. i feel like I have to warn you of the dangers of an LTU degree (because you seem to care unlike many of your peers) and hopefully it is not too late to save you from the frustration I have experienced post larry t.

      do not become too secure in what your think you know about architecture. i can only offer you the advice of an LTU grad now in grad school, but if that is the route you plan on taking my failures, frustration, sleepless nights, and success may be invaluable.

      consider my offer.

      Sep 29, 06 8:24 pm
      brian buchalski

      the mc5 as just noise? oh, brother, bossman, sometimes you're just hopeless...the thing about the mc5 is that you're right. it is noise, but they managed to harvest the humanity in that noise. consider "black to comm" which served as the "the band's defining moment, the all-out energy explosion that closed virtually every MC-5 performance with a mind-blowing orgy of feedback, volume, intensity, and creative daring designed to deliver its audiences into a state of total capitulation—quite literally, to 'blow them away."~john sinclair from the liner notes of the "teen age lust" live concert album.


      w is a fashion magazine. i think it's geared towards women and i only bought it because of all the buzz surrounding the kate-moss-in-detroit thing. i enjoyed that they travelled to many of the non-touristy parts of the city. some people criticized it by saying that the pictorial implied black people as the latest fashion accessories, but when the city is 80% black, well...


      midwest doesn't need mountains, it already has the great lakes...a unique and better natural resource in my opinion than any mountain range.


      vado is correst about the reverse migration that he mentioned in chicago. demographics from the past twenty years seem to be supporting this as an emerging trend in developed countries, where the wealthy are increasingly choosing to live in town and work outside of the urban core, typically near suburban office developments adjacent to airports. oddly, today's wealthiest cities are no longer centers of production but instead centers of consumption. i'm sure that i'm stealing that paradox from someone else's writing but it's one of those sentences where i can't remember the source.


      erasmus makes some good points about the limitations of lawrence tech. i'm really not very familiar with the school, but i would be skeptical about attending a technical school in southfield michigan if architecture is what you are really interested in. it's probably worth listening to erasmus's advice so that you can prep yourself for life beyond ltu.


      rama lama fa fa fa

      Oct 1, 06 8:29 pm

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