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An International Design Competition Reveals New Plans for Detroit's Cultural Center

Dubbed "Detroit Square," the newly revealed designs for ten blocks around 12 cultural and educational institutions will redesign the public realm for the human scale.
June 29, 2019, 11am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Detroit, Michigan
The Detroit Institute of Arts, pictured in 2018.
Jacob Boomsma

Detroit has selected an international team to redesign the city's cultural center, dubbing the future of the area "Detroit Square."

Louis Aguilar reveals the team's winning design for an area of Detroit that includes the Detroit Institute of Arts, the main Detroit Public Library, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, and more.

"Among the recommendations: Consider shrinking the number of traffic lanes on Woodward Avenue between the Detroit Institute of Arts and the main Detroit Public Library, add plenty of walkable green space and outdoor performance venues, build several outdoor cafés, convert an underground garage into a cutting-edge gallery, and lay the groundwork for a tech-savvy future," according to Aguilar.

The winning design was created by a team including Agence Ter, a Paris, France-based landscaping firm; Akoaki, a Detroit-based architecture firm; roofoftwo, a Detroit design studio, and a University of Michigan professor," according to another article on the winning design, written by Anna Bauman.

"The design competition attracted 44 entries from at least 10 countries and 22 cities, according to Midtown Detroit Inc., the nonprofit leading the campaign," according to Aguilar.

As a follow up to the news about the Detroit Square's future design, John Gallagher throws some cold water on the final product in a review written a few weeks after the big reveal.

According to Gallagher, " the winning design concept adds up to less than the whole. And when we see that the winning concept is more suggestive than final, that it will take several years to accomplish, and that the $75 million or so mentioned as the price is rather meager spread over such a large area, then the plan seems even less likely to be the big win everyone wants."

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Published on Saturday, June 8, 2019 in The Detroit News
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