MVRDV was commissioned the design of Glass Mural, a new 3,716-square-meter office and retail building with a custom glass façade that integrates colorful murals by artists DENIAL and Sheefy McFly. Located in Detroit’s Eastern Market neighborhood, the project will be MVRDV’s third mixed-use project in the United States and first in the Midwest.
Detroit: The Latest Architecture and News
Design Core Detroit is launching the 10th annual Detroit Month of Design in September. The event will recognize Detroit’s designation as the first and only UNESCO City of Design in the United States, and will include more than 175 participants presenting over 65 events and special projects. The programming will explore design solutions to the challenges faced by Detroit and the global community since the start of 2020.
Metropolis catches up with the High Line Network, a consortium of North American reuse projects that has been sharing notes and best practices through the pandemic.
Since the pandemic began, the High Line Network—a group of North American infrastructure reuse projects founded in 2017—has been conducting regular teleconference calls among its members, comparing notes on operations and sharing best practices and advice with fellow members. With many open or planning to reopen soon, and as the pandemic continues, many observers expect these projects will become even more popular among the public, since they provide outdoor space where visitors can walk, bicycle, and safely enjoy themselves—usually at an appropriate distance from one another. Especially now, the network believes its constituent projects can deliver tremendous and much-needed social, health, environmental, and economic benefits.
Minoru Yamasaki (December 1, 1912 – February 7, 1986) has the uncommon distinction of being most well known for how his buildings were destroyed. His twin towers at the World Trade Center in New York collapsed in the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001, and his Pruitt-Igoe complex in St. Louis, Missouri, demolished less than 20 years after its completion, came to symbolize the failure of public housing and urban renewal in the United States. But beyond those infamous cases, Yamasaki enjoyed a long and prolific career, and was considered one of the masters of “New Formalism,” infusing modern buildings with classical proportions and sumptuous materials.
ODA New York has been selected as the Design Architect for the rehabilitation of Detroit's iconic Book Tower. Working with real estate company Bedrock, the team will create a mix of residential, hospitality, retail and office space in the tower. ODA plans to update and expand on Book Tower’s programming and existing structures with nearly 500,000 square feet of downtown programming. The restoration of the 38-story landmark aims to create a cohesive civic vision for Washington Boulevard.
A team composed of international and local studios and individuals—Agence Ter, rootoftwo, Akoaki, and Harley Etienne—was recently chosen to revitalize the 83-acre area.
Over the course of the 20th century, across a series of administrations and economic contexts, Midtown Detroit grew into one of America’s largest (or densest) cultural districts, with over 12 major institutions, such as the Detroit Institute for the Arts (DIA) and the College for Creative Studies. But you wouldn’t know it, even if you were there—the nine-block, 83-acre area is a mish-mash of styles spanning Beaux Arts, Modernism, and Brutalism, and has a certain sense of placelessness. The area feels architecturally disjointed, illegible, and fails to translate the vibrancy of each institution into the broader public space.
Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects has broken ground on its first U.S. project, a mixed-use tower and associated masterplan in Detroit, Michigan. “Monroe Blocks” will stitch together the heart of one of America’s most storied cities with a mix of modern office space, residential units, restaurants, retail, and outdoor public areas.
The 12,500-square-meter site in Detroit’s Campus Martius Park, vacant for a generation, will be activated by 4,800 square meters of outdoor space, with the design team drawing on historical influences for the form and materiality of the new masterplan.
This article was originally published on Common Edge as "Will Detroit ever Fully Recover from John Portman's Renaissance Center?"
Last week I wrote about the anti-urban legacy of architect and developer John Portman. I think it’s worth going into a bit more detail about these projects, since we seem to have learned so little from their failures.
Let’s start with Detroit. The Renaissance Center was one of his largest and most celebrated projects. But this sprawling complex of seven-interconnected skyscrapers poses some difficult questions for urban planners today: can downtown Detroit ever fully recover from this mammoth and ill considered development? And, more importantly, why haven’t other cities learned from its clear and stark lessons?
Results have been announced for the 5th Global LafargeHolcim Awards for Sustainable Construction, with three women-led teams awarded the gold, silver, and bronze positions. The design competition asked participants to speculate on future methods of balancing environmental performance, social responsibility and economic growth, “exemplifying architectural excellence and a high degree of transferability.”
The competition attracted over 5,000 submissions from 131 countries. Having been regionally assessed by juries in Europe, North America, Latin America, the Middle East/Africa and Asia Pacific, 55 successful proposals were entered for the global awards, where six winning schemes were selected.
As the river offers a place of beauty and solitude to the people of Detroit, four international design teams have presented their creative schemes for the West Riverfront to extend this vibrant area in the city as part of an international design competition led by the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy (DRFC). The development of the 22-acre West Riverfront Park is expected to cost around $50 million to complete the DRFC’s ultimate vision for 5.5 miles of revitalized riverfront.
The four principal firms include Gustafson Guthrie Nichol (GGN), Hood Design Studio (HDS), James Corner Field Operations and Michael Van Valkenburgh and Associates (MVVA) collaborating with numerous Detroit and Michigan- based firms. Each of the teams has collaborated closely with the public to achieve a design that gives justice to the legacy of the people.
Gunnar Birkerts, Latvian-born architect and educator, passed away on August 15, 2017, at the age of 92. A passionate advocate of a creative process he called "organic synthesis," he leaves behind dozens of built works over three continents and influenced hundreds of architectural students and colleagues through his inquiry-based process and dynamic interactions. Eric Hill and John Gallagher, in their AIA Guide to Detroit, said of Birkerts’ architecture:
Each of his works seems to be approached as an opportunity to explore the essence of an architectural problem, resulting in a statement that often exceeds the immediate project.
For most of the 20th century, Detroit was our nation’s economic dynamo. This heritage is reflected in the treasure trove of outstanding historic homes, buildings, and factories that still define the cityscape. While Detroit has struggled into the 21st century, its role as a center for architectural innovation is undiminished. With stunning early 20th-century mansions, grand Art Deco skyscrapers, and surprising mid-century masterpieces, the Motor City has more to offer than most realize. Explore the Cranbrook Academy of Art, Lafayette Park, Eastern Market, private homes, and special projects by local preservation organizations. Learn about how Detroit is rebounding while experiencing the innovative and seminal works of great architects like Eliel Saarinen, Daniel Burnham, Cass Gilbert, John Burgee, Albert Kahn, Minoru Yamasaki, and Mies van der Rohe along the way.
Detroit is a long-standing symbol of innovation in America, especially in the production of automobiles, music, and, at one point in history, airplanes. It has, correspondingly, been called the Motor City, Motown, and the Cradle of Democracy. Over the last half-century, racial tension, urban migration, and disinvestment have shifted the city’s identity, causing it to become a symbol of post-industrial America and the attendant urban deterioration. Together, these elements render Detroit’s more recent nickname—the Renaissance City—tragically ironic.
Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects has unveiled the design of their first-ever project in the United States: the Monroe Blocks, a new mixed-use development that will become an iconic symbol of the rejuvenation and future development of downtown Detroit. Prioritizing public access both indoors and out, SHL’s scheme will consist of Detroit’s first new highrise office tower in decades, more than 480 residential units and a network of new public plazas and green spaces.
Throughout history shifting economies, disasters, regime changes, and utter incompetence have all caused the evacuation of impressive architectural structures. From the 1986 explosion at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine that rendered a region of the then-Soviet Union uninhabitable, to the decline in public transport that saw a number of US train stations becoming superfluous, the history of architectural abandonment touches all cultures. And, without regular maintenance, structures deteriorate, leaving behind no more than awe-inspiring ghosts of the past to fuel the ever-growing internet trend for "ruin porn." Below are 8 abandoned buildings slowly being reclaimed by nature: