Monthly Archives: March 2012

REVISIONING DETROIT’S MICHIGAN CENTRAL DEPOT

Anti-History. The discourse surrounding the Michigan Central Depot (MCD) is epic. Everyone has an opinion, and many opinions are charged with personal history, political dogma, or impulsive judgment.  This post does not attempt to chronicle the saga and thereby continue the allegations.  Rather, this post proposes to erase the associated drama and begin anew with the existing structure and current conditions.  Can we move beyond the MCD’s existing identity and all associated issues that continue to plague the MCD?  What could truly be done with this massive structure?   What is possible?

Momentum. Over the years, numerous proposals have floated through the Detroit ether: Homeland Security Offices, Business Center, Detroit Police Department Headquarters, Hotel/Casino.  None of these proposals have landed, none have gained momentum.  On a community level, the Greater Corktown Development Corporation and eighteen Earhart Middle School students developed MCD programming ideas through multiple design charrettes.   These creative programming solutions were summarized in powerpoint and then formally presented to the Detroit City Council.    A small band of renegades (Phillip Cooley, uRbanDetail, Tad Heidgerken, and others) have designed a Roosevelt Park Masterplan and slowly implemented the initial phases. Their landscape urbanism strategies have encouraged the MCD owner to clean up the structure’s forecourt and plant perennials along the front façade.  Mainstream recognition includes multiple music videos (Kid Rock, Eminem), wedding party photos, documentaries, and movies (Transformers, The Island, 8 Mile, 4 Brothers) using the MCD as a backdrop and/or stage.  This combination of community, renegade, and mainstream momentum results in a uniquely creative discourse, and perhaps a new found urbanism, Detroit-style. Continue reading

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