UrbanMI

BRIDGE TO CANADA – THE AMBASSADOR BRIDGE AND MATTY MOROUN

Posted in DETROIT, INFRASTRUCTURE by urbanmi on January 10, 2013

The Daily Show has found the Ambassador Bridge issue. Hopefully this issue reaching a wider audience helps embarrass Matty Moroun into ending his campaign against this necessary bridge.

The video, however, is terrifying. The reality that a number of citizens in our great state have been manipulated by a crotchety, old billionaire signals bad signs for us as a society. When we live in a world where money and media can manipulate people from understanding and believing facts we live in a world where the rich few can take advantage of the mass population.

This bridge is supported by governments, Michigan and US business, Canada and Canadian business and it is opposed by one man and his family. If Michigan and Detroit hope to rebuild this bridge is necessary. When we live in a state that is struggling to the extent Michigan is, the solution is not to fear change. The status quo will continue to lead Michigan to irrelevancy and a reduced population; strategies that exist to change that course should be considered and understood by every citizen.

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Michigan Central Station

Posted in DETROIT, INFRASTRUCTURE by urbanmi on August 30, 2012

The icons of Detroit’s Image: The Renaissance Center and Michigan Central Station.

They represent Detroit’s foolishness and stupidity.

The Renaissance Center is a comical story, saying more about the ineffectiveness of post-war urban policy and the failure to understand the sociological affects or architecture and infrastructure. However, the continual failure of the Michigan Central Station is the single largest black eye on the narrative of the revival of Detroit. The revival of Michigan Central Station would be the single most significant action to alter the image and narrative of Detroit.

It’s revival is necessary; and it’s demolition would be a damning action by Detroit politicians.

Interestingly the Owner of the Michigan Central Station, is billionaire Matty Moroun, the villian of the Ambassador Bridge saga. Aggressively saving the station, would be an effective way of partially rebuilding his reputation. His selfish actions alone hold back the revitalization of not only Detroit but the entire state of Michigan.

Imagination Station – Their headquarters is right in front of the station, and they are one of the groups responsible for the park that now lies in the shadow of the station.

Michigan Central Preservation Society

I would love to link to INFRASTRUCTURIST’s fantastic post on 11 beautiful historic train stations destroyed by the wrecking ball. Unfortunately, infrastructurist no longer exists.

WIKI

Z World – Detroit Zombie Theme Park

Posted in DETROIT, ENTERTAINMENT by urbanmi on July 30, 2012

Mark Siwak is proposing a new event space in Detroit, using Indiegogo to help raise revenue.

Z World. Wiwak is proposing to establish a zombie theme park in a neglected part of Detroit.

His proposal:

Z World Detroit

There are formal proposals to essentially abandon some of Detroit’s neighborhoods.

That’s not a solution.  Collectively we must be more creative than that.

Here’s an idea that will turn the tables on blight.  Not only will this idea turn a blighted area into an asset, a portion of the ticket revenue will go to a fund to demolish abandoned buildings throughout the city.  Blight will fight blight!

Here’s an idea to start something fun and unique that will revitalize an area while creating some jobs for Detroiters.

His proposal takes the city as event space to a new level, but falls into the traps of thinking of the theme and amusement park as an existing typology instead of attempting to imagine an entirely new kind of space. His sketches utilize parking lots, hard fences, and strictly define the park, in doing so damaging the illusion.

Imagine, instead, the fences of this amusement park consisting of piled up cars, and building debris. A rough, meandering edge of the fall of man existing within the borders of the city, announcing the park but not creating a buffer of concrete and asphalt. This project could dissolve the line between public and private elements of the city, the transition between park and city would essentially be non-existent. It would not be necessary to erect large fences and acres of parking lots.

Within the park, it would not be clear whether or not you were in a theme park. The entrance would be barren, abandoned, with the military holding the line. The exploration should begin slowly and progressively, with initially minor, relatively innocuous encounters building up to large confrontations ever deeper into the park.

The logistics of such a park are fascinating.

  • How many employees would be necessary to run the park?
  • Would the cost of so many extra park employees (relatively) be comparable to the cost of owning and maintaining the typical amusment park ride.
  • How would concessions and souvenirs be sold?
    • Themed shacks and abandon homes hawking “supplies”
  • How would you create unique and replicable encounters for a constant stream of visitors.
    • Would entrance to the park be limited and timed.
  • How would you explore the park, could you turn back and retrace your steps or could you pause indefinitely and enjoy the site of staggering zombies, or would you be rushed along as in a haunted house.

The idea extends the concepts from the Zombie Run, and could benefit from a case study. Ultimately I think using a Dawn of the Dead type strategy to designing the park would be far more successful and far easier to implement than the Urban environment. Using a mall would control the encounters, and progression more easily and could take lessons from Haunted Houses for operations.

Unfortunately his proposal shows a misunderstanding of the issues of Detroit. He comments on the proposal of shrinking the city without understanding that the proposal is not about abandonment but about preserving what currently exists and using what limited resources there are in the city appropriately. Furthermore, if demolition is a strategy to be used over shrinking the city, how would it be used appropriately.

Demolition is not a strategy for Detroit. Demolition as a strategy, if extended into the future would also make the possibility of the park impossible. It leaves behind acres of abandoned land and often savable buildings are torn down, historic buildings are torn down in the spirit of “advancement.” Cities like Chicago, have experienced the regret of tearing down treasured buildings as a result of not valuing the assets they have.

It is however beneficial to demolish the hundreds of derelict homes, but in order to sensibly demolish these homes, it makes sense to utilize a strategy of shrinkage. Through utilizing a combined strategy in targeted areas it becomes possible to focus assets in needed areas and promote new neighborhoods, while removing blighted areas and preparing them for a time when Detroit can grow again.

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MICH – THE GREAT BEER STATE

Posted in DETROIT, FOOD, GRAND RAPIDS by urbanmi on July 20, 2012

Michigan is an underrated and great brewing state. I believe Michigan is often overlooked as a great beer state since no single city dominates brewing. What Michigan provides is quality craft beer from top to bottom. Michigan breweries dominate stouts, no single concentration of breweries execute as many tremendous and varied stouts as Michigan.

The Michigan Brewers Guild  has great features and links to all the notable breweries. (Shout Outs to my Hometown Founders, Bell’s, Jolly PumpkinKuhnhen, Dark Horse)

While wasting time and following a chain of links I stumbled upon the 10 best cities for Beer Lovers and happily saw Grand Rapids (along with Kalamazoon) receive recognition for their beer. I often find Michigan is overlooked in these lists. Particularly since these lists are often traps to shovel paid advertisements down our collective consumer gullet. (If you recall the horrendous Newsweek list ranking Grand Rapids as one of the cities)  This list, however, was far better than GQs beer list in 2010 which ranked Chicago as one of the best beer cities by looking at numbers of bars and breweries alone without taking into account their quality. (No list of beer cities should be recognizing the Rock Bottom Brewery as a representative).

Do yourself a favor and attend either the Summer or Winterfests and look at Craftbeer.com recognizing piece on Michigan Brewing.

Now we just need more people to realize the overwhelming collection of fantastic brewing occurring here. Maybe I would be able to get more on the coasts.

DETROPIA

Posted in DETROIT, ENTERTAINMENT by urbanmi on June 22, 2012

Detropia from Ford Foundation on Vimeo.

I was waiting to write about this one until after I see it,

but I want to help draw attention to this work.

DETROPIA

This is the type of work on Detroit, that is beginning to come out with much more regularity, much like the online short series from Palladium Boots, that shows the problems but the positive actions as well.  This positive narrative needs to be encouraged; cultivated. My graduate architecture thesis from 2010-2011 (which I will begin to publish
It will be shown on PBS next season, I will definitely be watching unless I can find a way to watch prior to that date.on here) explored these very same themes. It is counter productive to perpetuate the narrative of Detroit as a dying city; Detroit is not dead, and due to its importance economically, strategically, and politically, Detroit will not die. Detroit is a struggling and sick urban core that exists in a thriving and rich metropolitan region.

The production also demonstrates the powerful potential of ground-up financing structures such as Kickstarter have for creative works. Through these crowd-sourced financing structures, artists, filmmakers, developers, etc. are able to find the niche markets that will inevitably be their audience and directly appeal to those with like-minded interest as a means for accomplishing projects. It is freer, it frees production from the top-down financing that can prove to be a limitation.

Urban Farming

Posted in DETROIT by urbanmi on May 31, 2012

Whole foods is coming to Detroit. Another milestone in the redevelopment and shifting demographics and sociology in the region. Like many Detroiters and savvier businessman, Whole Foods has noticed and believes in the revitalization in Detroit. Their arrival reflects the influx of young, educated, and as the US Census made concrete, white people in Detroit, a core constituency for the Whole Foods Brand.

The last 10 years displayed the first growth in the white youth demographic in Detroit since the 1950s. Artists and Designers are attracted to the potential and great bones of this once great American City.

Lessenberry Essay on Farming

Michigan Messenger

Eat Local from the Atlantic

Landscape+Urbanism blog Agrarian Urbanism

Grist Motown to Greentown

Grocery?

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Rapid Transit Bus Lines

Posted in DETROIT, GRAND RAPIDS by urbanmi on February 26, 2012

I am not opposed to rapid transit bus lines.

I support them in Detroit.  Just not along Woodward Ave. A light rail line is more than mass transportation and an economic engine.

It is a symbol; it is a statement. It announces to both the residents of Detroit and surrounding areas, to the State of Michigan, and the country as a whole that Detroit takes itself seriously. A light rail system is an investment, a large and serious investment; making the investment says to everyone: Detroit will do whatever it takes to revitalize itself and change its past.

Their is an inherent stigma to buses in the United States, and their use within Detroit will do little to making visitors and residents feel comfortable using them.

I was ardently in favor and voted for the rapid transit bus line in Grand Rapids along Division Ave in 2008.  It;s surprising failure in spite of Downtown, East Grand Rapids, Forest Hills in support of the measure.  East Grand Rapids, Ada, would not directly benefit from any bus line. Failing because south Grand Rapids  voted against it. A significant advertising campaign targeting

Rapid transit buses can be done with great success.  Curitiba, Brazil illustrates one of the most successful and famous examples of their use.

Dave Bing is Dead to Me

Posted in DETROIT by urbanmi on December 17, 2011

It’s official Dave Bing has now completely lost any semblance of any support from me.

With the death of light rail in Detroit in favor of more buses my positive feelings towards Dave Bing and his efforts for the city have transformed into a powerful cynicism towards him and his administration. His efforts are hollow and his rhetoric is meaningless.

There are certain things that must be performed in order to move Detroit into the ranks of a modern and genuine city.  At the front of those items is light rail in Downtown Detroit.  Functional mass transportation is an asset in every city that provides it. Businesses and residences establish themselves along transit lines and property values rise. People relocate to these hubs for their convenience and amenities sparking revitalization and vibrancy.

Buses provide none of these causes and positive secondary effects. People do not want to use buses, they feel unsafe, they are typically dirty, and they are slow and inconvenient. Light rail offers an alternative that is not beholden to the pace of traffic and through its use a convenience and an asset is added.

Put simply Light rail is an investment with measured positive results and buses are a financial black hole.

In a city where bus service is already being cut and hours are being limited why would throwing more money at buses be considered a choice at all.

Postcards From Detroit

Posted in ARCHITECTURE, DETROIT by urbanmi on June 12, 2011

A nostalgiac Flickr Photostream curated by steve_frenkel. I assume all these postcards were made by the Detroit Publishing Co. which famously produced chromolithography images and postcards.

Shorpy’s has a large assortment of other Detroit Publishing Co. photographs. Good for seeing idyllic images of the city.

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Go Wings

Posted in DETROIT, SPORTS by urbanmi on April 13, 2011

Redwings over Coyotes in 6.

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