UrbanMI

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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GRAND RAPIDS | A Dying City

Posted in GRAND RAPIDS by urbanmi on May 31, 2011

In January, Grand Rapids was listed by Newseek as a dying city based on a vacuous interpretation of data. The data used was limited in scope and painted an inaccurate view of the city. They compared the total population of Grand Rapids to the percent of the population below 18 years of age against the 10 year change in those population numbers.

Rob Bliss (organizer of city-wide events such as:the zombie walk, pillow fight, Artprize 2009 Paper Airplanes), organized a Lip-Dub of over 5000 people in response.

The success, coverage, and reception of the Lip Dup event has caused Newsweek to retract their statement.  Roger Ebert has called it the greatest music video ever.  His point is hyperbolic, but the video represents an impressive choreography of people, industry, and passion. Rob Bliss continuously highlights the beauty of Grand Rapids and brings out the love the residents of Grand Rapids have for their city.

The video is kitsch. But as a son of Grand Rapids it makes me smile. It makes me miss home. To Rob Bliss I say thank you.

Below the much better produced 2009 Art Prize Event. 10000 Paper Planes.

Links: and a return from vacation

Posted in GRAND RAPIDS by urbanmi on January 31, 2011

It’s probably bad practice for me to throw up a draft of a post for the purpose of having a post this month. I should not do this again.

via Urbanophile and US Census Data. Michigan the only state to lose population from 2000-2010. Also interesting, Detroit’s white population grew this past year.

Grand Rapids was named one of America’s Bleakest Cities by Newsweek. As one of the stronger cities in Michigan, with a downtown that is exciting and revitalizing, this is absurd. The report focuses on population changes and demographics without doing any analysis of the situation within the city. Grand Rapids historically suffers from issues with its younger population leaving for college and not returning but with Grand Valley State University’s continual presence downtown and the recent move of Michigan State University’s medical program to Grand Rapids this trend will shift in the future. Grand Rapids has diverse and flexible industries and is better positioned to survive Michigan’s greater struggles than most other Michigan cities. The population changes reflect economic and employment issues in Michigan in general and not specifically to issues in Grand Rapids.

RapidGrowth has their own, more in depth analysis.

A belated congratulations to Brady Hoke.  I am an alum in full support. Go Blue.

In Grand Rapids, Pomegranate Studios is hosting an event in February with a lot of potenetial:  5×5 Night

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