Sunday, November 28, 2010

001: Questions

I am starting this blog because I have a lot of questions: questions about design; design and the city; design, the city and how it relates to the inhabitants of that city. Questions about what design can actually do (if anything at all). Detroit, in this moment, is an exciting place for design. Along with its many problems, it has so many potentials, so many opportunities, and so few restraints. (Many local artists have said that if you have a project, just do it, no one is likely to stop you). My goal for this site is to bring together (in one place and for the first time…) design projects from around the city. Both the grassroots projects, conceived and funded by local artists, architects, and community members and the institutional projects supported by local and federal governments. My belief is that if we can look at all of these projects in one place, we can start a discussion which will help direct and situate the design and outcome of our city.

Questions I have are as follows (They are harder to think of when you have to write them down.) Please add your own:

·        How do we have a discussion between top-down and bottom-up design projects and policies for the city of Detroit? What are the projects in each area? How are they working together? Which is more effective in causing positive change for the city?

·        How do specific design projects affect the inhabitants of the city? What are their opinions of these projects? Do they know or care? Are designers delusional about the effects that their work can or will produce?

·        What are other “shrinking cities” doing that is successful or not successful? What can Detroit learn from each of these cases?

·        Who are the leaders exploring the issues of “shrinking cities”? In Detroit? In other parts of the country? What do they have to say?

·        How do we reach people across the “digital divide”? What is the best way to contact or inform the citizens of Detroit about new design proposals and opportunities? What do we gain from being informed?


  1. I am a huge fan of the highly liberal NPR radio show out of Detroit, the Craig Fahle show; and the redesign of shrinking Detroit is something they cover almost every day. It is a design issue and an interesting social experiment, because of the unique needs and strong opinions of the residents of the city and the limited budget. I personally would like to see some national funding come to the city so that all the asbestos filled homes can actually be demolished and we can start fresh!

  2. @Bee
    Thanks for mentioning the Craig Fahle show, I will have to look it up. (Living in Syracuse means that I don't listen to Michigan Radio as often as I used to). You mention the problems with the often abandoned and asbestos filled homes in Detroit, have you looked at Mayor Bing's plans to demolish over 10,000 homes in the city?

  3. Helllzzzzz yea beazy I have!! It's crazy! What are they going to do with all the waste???

  4. One of the most important things about design is getting rid of what doesn't need to be there. Having lived in Detroit for many years, all the burned out and abandoned homes (and there are thousands...) are nothing but trouble. Besides looking awful, they hog space that could be put toward more productive efforts and they invite crime. The leaders of Detroit need to take demolishing and reduction efforts seriously. I think its the most important first step toward a new future.