Perhaps it's the imagination sparked by the beautiful drawings or perhaps it's the weird little ghost children running through the fountain but few things are as melancholic as a beautiful design rendering that never came to be. While on a mission to find out what the city is doing with the recently demolished Ford Auditorium site, we found these renderings of a long-suspended project to redevelop Hart Plaza.
Way, way back in the heady days of Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's administration, the New York City design firm Thomas Balsley Associates was hired for a sorely needed re-design of Hart Plaza. Their website is diplomatic in its criticism of Hart Plaza:
Designed in the 1960's without the wisdom and insight that we now possess on the forces that contribute to the successes or failure of urban public open spaces, the space never lived up to its civic expectations and slowly fell into decline and abandonment. Except for some large civic celebrations and programmed events, these six acres of prime downtown open space on the river lay vacant. Yep. Nailed it. After contacting the firm, we've learned that the project has been put on hold "due to the lack of funding." While this news is not shocking at all, the renderings do cause a little pitter patter in our hearts at the thought of a more useful and accommodating Hart Plaza. Mayor Bing has been quoted as saying that he wants to relocate Chene Park to the site of the old Ford Auditorium, which is pretty close to what's represented in the renderings and the company line is that the project is "on hold" so who knows? Of course, it's been on hold for seven years already so we won't hold our breaths. We'll just cross our fingers.