Architectural college works with Detroit to unveil urban designs

January 2, 2002

EDITORS: Designers and proposed designs will be available to the media on Jan. 15, 4 p.m., in the Gem Theater, 333 Madison Ave., Detroit. For more information, visit the U-M TCAUP Web site at

DETROIT—The University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning (TCAUP) is bringing together top urban designers from the United States and Canada to team with Detroit’s leading design professionals in an intensive, five-day planning and design workshop. Over 50 graduate students from U-M and University of Detroit-Mercy will help form four design teams.

The workshop, or “charrette,” will culminate on Jan. 15 with the presentation of urban designs focusing on the current rejuvenation—in preparation for Super Bowl XL in 2006—of the downtown Detroit sports and entertainment district. Area stakeholders and civic and business leaders will view proposed designs at the Gem Theater, with a reception beginning at 4:30 p.m. and presentations at 5 p.m. The public is invited to attend.

Nationally known architects and planners participating are: Rebecca Barnes, chief planner for the city of Boston, where she oversees and coordinates all planning activities within city government; J. Max Bond, principal of the New York-based firm of Davis Brody Bond, a leading architectural design practice; Ken Greenberg, principal of Greenberg Consultants in Toronto, and director of Toronto’s Division of Architecture and Urban Design, which Greenberg founded in 1977; and Peter Hasselman, a renowned architect from Orinda, Calif. Local participants include: Tom Barrie, Lawrence Technical University; Julie Ju-Youn Kim, studiozONE, and University of Detroit-Mercy; Damon K. Leverett, Albert Kahn Associates; Francis Resendes, Gunn Levine Associates; and Yvette Amstelveen, InsideOut.

The 2002 urban design charrette, which is sponsored by TCAUP and hosted by Detroit Edison at their downtown headquarters, will concentrate on the district surrounding Grand Circus ParkComerica Park, Ford Field, the Detroit Opera House, Music Hall, and the Gem, Century, State and Fox theaters. The charrette is being conducted as a public service to provide a wide range of expertise to the city of Detroit, as it prepares to invest in major downtown renovations.

Although TCAUP has been invited to hold charrettes in other cities, the College holds Detroit as its first priority. U-M’s first charrette in 1999 focused on the lower Cass area of Detroit. The greater Corktown and Briggs neighborhoods were selected as the focus of the 2000 charrette to identify new growth opportunities surrounding Tiger Stadium. Last year’s workshop focused on the Grand River corridor. Concepts from past workshops have been incorporated into projects within the city.

What exactly is a “charrette”? A charrette is an intensive workshop where nationally renowned and local design experts work in teams with faculty and graduate students to produce design solutions to difficult urban problems. Up to 75 participants work for five days in an atmosphere of creative competition to develop proposals. The effort culminates with a public presentation of the resulting design proposals. Faculty members will lead follow-up studios during the balance of the winter term to develop the general concepts and specific downtown building projects in greater detail. The charrettes and the studio work conclude with the publication of a book during the summer. The book, which is widely distributed, is available as a tool to help the public and private sectors refine and implement proposed concepts.

EDITORS: Reporters and photographers are welcome at any of these charrette events:

WALKING TOUR, Jan. 11, 9:30 a.m.—Departs from Detroit Ramada, 400 Bagley. To attend, RSVP by Jan. 10, to C. Malyszka, (734) 223-3593, or M. Perdomo, (734) 764-1300.

BRIEFING SESSION, Jan. 11, 2 p.m.—Detroit Edison, 660 Plaza Drive. To gain entrance, contact Detroit Edison Media Relations, (313) 235-5555.

PLANNING SESSIONS, Jan. 12-14, all day—Detroit Edison. To gain entrance, contact Detroit Edison Media Relations.

MEDIA DAY, DESIGN PREVIEW, Jan. 15, 4 p.m.—Gem Theater, 333 Madison. College of Architecture and Urban PlanningRebecca BarnesDetroit Edison