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Frank X. Arvan

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It's Time to Envision A Better Built Detroit. Are Architects Ready?

There is an intimate connection between people, power, poverty and place and there is no better city in the world to see this than Detroit. With the impending bankruptcy we cannot lose sight of the human issues that face our city.

For decades money and power have moved away from Detroit’s center. The complex reasons for this are well known so there is no need to rehash them here. Even in the face of city government’s failure to manage its assets properly, this is changing. There is slow and halting movement back to the center.The movement back to the center is a good thing for many reasons. It will help bolster the tax base and that is the basic financial problem the city faces. But more importantly it will create a stronger spatial connection between power and poverty that we haven’t had in this region for a century.

Power will see poverty and poverty power. They will feel each other’s existence. They will see the humanity of each side and be nudged to recognize the shared responsibility caring for this shared place. This is how successful vital, dense urban cities operate. There is an acceptance of diversity on all levels. Barriers are reduced and human interaction encouraged. This is how creativity is bred. Exposure to diverse people, places and ideas excite and promote the imagination and a sense of the common good that includes everyone.