Today we continue our series on Re-Imagining Detroit Buildings, an unscientific approach to seeing what this city would like to see saved. Yesterday we got a pitch for the Dry Dock Building from an Architect. We'll continue asking around until we run out of ideas. Is there someone in-the-know you think we should hunt down? Send us a tip!Packard Plant image gallery via Detroiturbex.
In response to our query on which Detroit building he would like to see redeveloped this year, Phillip Cooley, one of the owners of Slows BBQ in Corktown (and arguably the face of the company), piped in for the Packard Plant. [Well, after the Train Station of course, since that's basically the landmark that helps us find Slows.] Designed by Albert Kahn, The Packard was where luxury Packard cars were made by the Packard Motor Car Company (later the Studebaker-Packard Corporation). It is a gargantuan 3.5 M square feet and a favorite location for local artist Scott Hocking's installations. At one time it hosted Detroit's Banksy Mural and is still used by graffiti artists, urban explorers, and paintballers though the last commercial renter left in 2010.
I am interested in the Packard Plant as a potential site for positive transformation. I don't see it being redeveloped in a traditional sense, but instead follow the examples of the work done in the Ruhr Valley of Germany. They have utilized their aging industrial landscape in many diverse ways, including: parks and recreation, public art, museums and even continued industrial use (jobs!). I love the idea of jobs or "loft" conversions, but we need to diversify our approach at times and the Packard is a perfect example. It's evolved into a public art museum naturally. We need to accept it, make it safe and celebrate it. It can be a road map for many other structures in our city instead of a constant reminder of our economic and social struggles. The Packard Plant: Let's keep it alive and arty in 2012! With its position just east of Hamtramck, it's not too far from being the center of the city. An article from the Detroit News last year sites Dominic Cristini and his company BioResource as the building owner. It claims he, "spent years in court battling the city of Detroit since former Mayor Dennis Archer took possession of it and began demolition. Cristini prevailed in court, went to prison for four years on a drug charge and recently returned to lay claim to the property again." Here's hoping he stays out of trouble and gets back into the development game.
· Re-Imagining the Detroit Dry Dock/Globe Trading Building [Curbed Detroit]
· Wringing Art Out of the Rubble in Detroit [NY Times]
· Packard Automobile Plant [Detroiturbex]
· The Banksy Mural Lifted From Detroit's Packard Plant Is Back! [Curbed Detroit]
· Crumbling Detroit Packard plant becomes hallowed ground for many [The Detroit News]