Tag Archives: roguehaa lectures

Urban Futures Panel Discussion

…Indeed, the chance to pioneer, to be part of a unique and significant new community, was, for many, an important factor in deciding to settle there…” (Forum Magazine, 1960)

Urban Futures
Last month, RogueHAA convened the latest panel discussion in its Provocations: Challenging Detroit’s Design Discourse series. Lafayette Park served both as backdrop and case study for a discussion of the broad social, political, architectural, and urbanistic issues that surround this development. Lafayette Park began as an urban renewal initiative known as the Gratiot Redevelopment Project which targeted 129 acres of land within the primarily working class African-American neighborhood of Black Bottom. Between 1946 and 1958, thousands of residents were displaced and the site largely remained vacant until the city retained Chicago-based developer Herbert Greenwald, architect Mies van der Rohe, urban planner Ludwig Hilberseimer and landscape designer Alfred Caldwell to design a plan for redevelopment. By the early 1960’s, three 22-floor high-rises, 21 buildings with 186 ground-level housing units, and a large park were completed. Despite the controversy surrounding its implementation, the Lafayette development has achieved many of the goals of Modernist planning and urban renewal and today is one of the most economically viable and racial diverse neighborhoods in the city.

To this context rogueHAA brought together the following distinguished professionals to discuss the many facets of Lafayette Park:

Danielle Aubert (assistant professor of graphic design, WSU)

Robert Fishman (professor of urban planning, U of M)

Kevin Harrington (professor emeritus, IIT)

Michelle Johnson (executive director, Fire Historical and Cultural Arts Collaborative)

Hilanius Phillips (Former head city planner, City of Detroit)

Brent Ryan (assistant professor of urban design and public policy, MIT)

Optimistically titled Urban Futures, the event addressed both the history of its planning and execution, but also the many paradoxes that accompany one of the more successful of Detroit’s urban neighborhoods. Does Detroit offer similar opportunities for avant- garde planning and large scale urban interventions today? What successes and sacrifices accompany the Modernist social agenda, and are there lessons to be learned as we seek to engage in equitable and sustainable redevelopment here and in other Rustbelt cities? While the presentations and subsequent discussion covered a broad array of topics, there were a number of themes that emerged.

Race & Relocation
Underlying much of the conversation was the reality of the vast displacement that occurred through the urban renewal process, and the failed relocation strategies implemented by the city leadership. As discussed in rogueHAA’s A Brief History of Black Bottom exhibit, the area was cleared in the early 1950s as part of a campaign to eradicate the extreme conditions in Detroit’s slums. The Lafayette Park development model was based largely on the rejection of the chaos and congestion of the industrial city. From a utopian and socialist agenda, the ‘tower in the garden’ represented a reprieve from the extreme density in these areas. Ironically, by the time the development was implemented the city had already begun to lose population at its center. As described by Robert Fishman (professor of urban planning, U of M), this intentional removal of working class poor was also seen as a way to stem the massive suburban migration that followed World War II by encouraging the middle class to remain in the city. While one of the goals of the project was purported to be better housing conditions for the primarily black, working-class residents of Black Bottom, the other was the buoying of property values and the establishment of a new urban model. Continue reading

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CRAIG WILKINS POST LECTURE DISCUSSION

“Writing about music is like dancing about architecture – it’s a really stupid thing to want to do” -Elvis Costello

lecturesHAA : Event 4.   With the tempo of a beatnik and a black turtleneck sweater to match, Craig Wilkins free-formed one December evening before an intimate crowd at the Johanson Charles Gallery.   Neither traditional presentation nor musical jam session, his lecture entitled “Dancing about Architecture…Part 3”, ebbed and flowed in accordance with the accompanying music.  Miles Davis.  Nelly.  John Coltrane.  Lil’ Kim.  Brazilian Salsa.  Public Enemy.  Each musical style provided a unique lens in which to view an architect’s design process and their resulting built form.  Brazilian Salsa directly influenced Gaudi’s Parc GuelleJosephine Baker provided inspiration for both Adolf LoosVilla Baker and Le Corbusier’s City of AlgiersJames Brown infiltrated South America, thereby evolving the favelas of Brazil.  Hip Hop music prompts Rural Studio and the dramatic sampling of found materials.

Dancing about architecture.  As the fourth presenter in the lecturesHAA series, Craig Wilkins has worked internationally as a designer, project architect, urban designer, and academic. Providing history for his lecturesHAA topic and further clarifying the “…Part 3” portion of his lecture title, Dr. Wilkins explained that he has previously written and lectured extensively on hip hop architecture and “The Aesthetics of Equity: Notes on race, space, architecture, and music.”  His December 15th discussion expanded these previous investigations.  Wilkins immediately acknowledged that in the most simplistic terms, architecture can take a literal form of music…imagine a rock n’ roll museum in the shape of a guitar or treble clef.  However, providing a catalogue of crude musical interpretations was not the goal of his lecture.  Instead, he analyzed the musical genres of jazz, salsa, and hip-hop, ultimately proposing that architects should evolve their own antiquated design process by implementing specific portions of the musician’s creative process. Continue reading

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CRAIG WILKINS — EVENT 04 “Challenging Detroit: (Re)generating Urbanism”

lecturesHAA is dedicated to creating a broader creative discourse through open and collaborative dialogue. The program includes lectures and discussions throughout the year that will consider important contemporary design issues associated with the urban environment.

The initial program for 2009 will be “Challenging Detroit: (Re)generating Urbanism.” This program will provide an important platform for consideration of innovative, multidisciplinary strategies designed to help the city not only create reinvestment and redevelopment, but also begin to regenerate the social, economic and environmental attributes that define it. Now, more than ever, we need to come together to understand how we can effectively participate in the thoughtful, creative regeneration of Detroit.

While it is relatively unconventional for a professional design firm such as Hamilton Anderson Associates to create and coordinate a lecture program such as this, we feel that by leveraging our resources and interests in design, we may more fully establish a fertile exchange of ideas that helps to bridge the gap between the creative community and the community at-large.

The public is encouraged to attend these free events. Please return to rogueHAA for future dates and topics.

EVENT 04: CRAIG WILKINS :

Dr. Craig L. Wilkins has worked nationally and internationally as a designer, project architect and urban designer. He currently serves as the director of the Detroit Community Design Center at the University of Michigan College of Architecture and Urban Planning. Dr. Wilkins has written and lectured widely on a variety of topics, from hip hop architecture to the prospects of globalization on African spaces. Dr. Wilkins’s work has culminated in his most recent publication, “The Aesthetics of Equity: Notes on race, space, architecture and music” which has been recognized with numerous awards, including the prestigious 2008 Montaigne Medal for Best New Writing. Continue reading

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LARS GRABNER POST LECTURE DISCUSSION

“Desire is the very essence of man.”  This quote by 17th century philosopher, Baruch Spinoza, opened Lars Gräbner’s lecture this past October 13th at the Johanson Charles Gallery.  As principal architect of VolumeOne Architects and full time faculty member at the University of Michigan’s College of Architecture, Lars has traveled extensively throughout the world.  Most recently, his architecture studio spent the summer in Europe, touring successful post-industrial regions and composing a ‘generic urban strategies menu’.  His lecture titled, “The City of Desire”, offered a tantalizing prospect.  As these projects have already succeeded in regenerating post-industrial cities, can these same urban strategies apply to Detroit?  Can Detroit become a “City of Desire”?

Suburban Destiny.  To fully address these questions, Lars outlined one of the fundamental conflicting desires of modern man – to live in the city or to live in the suburbs.  As Lars stated in his lecture, the desire to leave the city is strong, originated by decades of aggressive marketing campaigns.  Continue reading

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LARS GRABNER — EVENT 03 “Challenging Detroit: (Re)generating Urbanism”

lecturesHAA is dedicated to creating a broader creative discourse through open and collaborative dialogue. The program includes lectures and discussions throughout the year that will consider important contemporary design issues associated with the urban environment.

The initial program for 2009 will be “Challenging Detroit: (Re)generating Urbanism.” This program will provide an important platform for consideration of innovative, multidisciplinary strategies designed to help the city not only create reinvestment and redevelopment, but also begin to regenerate the social, economic and environmental attributes that define it. Now, more than ever, we need to come together to understand how we can effectively participate in the thoughtful, creative regeneration of Detroit.

While it is relatively unconventional for a professional design firm such as Hamilton Anderson Associates to create and coordinate a lecture program such as this, we feel that by leveraging our resources and interests in design, we may more fully establish a fertile exchange of ideas that helps to bridge the gap between the creative community and the community at-large.

The public is encouraged to attend these free events. Please return to rogueHAA for future dates and topics.

EVENT 03 : LARS GRABNER :

Lars Gräbner practices architecture in the city of Detroit and has been a resident of the city since 2000. After four years as a head designer at Studio Libeskind in Berlin, Germany, and then teaching at the ETH in Zürich, he accepted a position at the University of Michigan, teaching architectural design, construction and urbanism. Intrigued by Detroit, he decided to contribute to the development of the city. Continue reading

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