Detroit loves a development story! Sadly are there are still more fabulous old buildings waiting for their moment in the spotlight than ones already enjoying it (Broderick and David Whitney Buildings: this seems to be your year!) So we asked some locals in-the-architectural-know: what building do you really want to see transformed? First up is Architect Christian Unverzagt, who leads a graduate architecture studio at the University of Michigan Taubman College. He and his students are fascinated with the Detroit Dry Docks Engine Works complex. And with good reason.
This big 'ol brick building occupies an entire block by the waterfront which began as a marine steam engine firm in 1869. In 1892, they cleared the the existing building to make the current complex, which built ships and is actually five separate structures built between 1892 and the 1919. The building was later used by a stove manufacturer, the Detroit Edison power company, and lastly by the Globe Trading Company. In 2006, plans were announced to convert the building into condos and retail space. As that did not pan out too well in the recession, there was no action. Last May, The Michigan Department of Natural Resources talked up a plan to convert it into a $34M adventure and discovery center, featuring rock climbing, a zip line, classrooms, and outdoor activities. Construction was tentatively scheduled to begin in 2012 but we have not heard anything about progress in a while. Anyone have some intel?
As for Unverzagt, he definitely thinks the building would be "best for recreational development (partially indoor/covered spaces for biking (tricks, dirt, etc), skateboarding park, climbing wall, etc.) and not some full-fledged housing/loft/office space/incubator thingy." We have to agree! See eleven other ideas proposed by graduate students along with their pretty bad-ass renderings via the class Tumblr. And here's to you Globe Trading Company Building, may there be zip lines in your future for 2012.
· Eleven proposals for re-imagining the Detroit Dry Dock/Globe Trading Building [The Normal]
· Detroit Dry Dock Engine Works [Detroiturbex]
· Michigan's only urban state park sees nature taking root in vacant Detroit plant [MLive]