A new edition of the M-Shaped Strategy weekly for March 11, 2018
Detroit as a model for community-led design
Detroit is consistently a rather interesting city these days. The city's waterfront has been through several iterations over the past few decades. A small civic plaza inspired and evoked a "bridge-to-bridge" concept of a continuous linear park. That has been developing in segments, some inspired, some not so much. Now the next segment is being designed in a competition format but with a high level of public engagement that is now influencing other cities in their development plans. "The community-led design process has been integral for the development of proposals for a recognized park suited for the city of Detroit and has set a precedent for public engagement in architecture that has attracted attention across the country. A Community Advisory Team (CAT) was set up to engage with the project, the group included a variety of local residents that were given the opportunity to visit amazing parks across the country in Chicago, New York and Philadelphia and feedback their experiences of these spaces. There has been a further effort to involve the people of Detroit by organizing a public design exhibition to interact with the design concepts and once the winning proposal is selected there will be further opportunities for the community to view the rendering and models shape the final design."
Don't be a jackass in Detroit
Somewhat related is this Vanity Fair review of a new guide to Detroit. Entitled How to Live in Detroit Without Being a Jackass, it offers tips against gentrifying behaviors for the "proto-colonists" relocating to Detroit from the coasts. “It’s unlike other big cities in the country. It’s got a majority minority population. It’s not on a coast. And we’re dealing with things that people might not understand, like bankruptcy and massive amounts of poverty and unemployment.”
Getting the jail out of the city
But speaking of gentrification, one of the more bizarre property exchanges in now going forward in Detroit. A site initially proposed for a county new jail complex in the downtown area, partially constructed but then abandoned as costs ran up uncontrollably, will now be owned by the organization faced by Dan Gilbert who seems to own almost everything else in the Central Business District. He will tear down the construction in place and place there another commercial development. In exchange, he'll build a new jail complex elsewhere in the city. There may have been some locational logic for the initially proposed complex, but with other shifts taking place in Detroit, a downtown jail just didn't align with the direction of development.
Proliferation of pop-ups
Speaking of gentrification some more, where did all those pop-up restaurants come from? "As attention spans shortened and experiences became the new status symbols, disappearing restaurants gained more cultural capital than their stodgily static alternatives.This shift has created entire multimillion- and even billion-dollar real estate interests (malls, mostly) with spaces devoted to pop-up restaurants at New York's South Street Seaport, Platform in Culver City, and Chicago's Merchandise Mart, among others. A company based in San Francisco, called Cubert, manufactures purpose-built pop-up stalls. High turnover is now a virtue. Which means the latest food trend isn't an ingredient or a cuisine; it's a length of time. The most successful pop-up operations are those that can burn brightly, then quietly (and quickly) disappear to make room for something new."
Investment in chairs
"To paraphrase Ballard, office furniture forms the external constellation of the shape of the organisation and a reflection of its self-image. The design of offices, the furniture in them and even the shape of the market matters because of what it tells us about how we work, how organisations function and even what is happening in the economy. If you want to know what’s going on, take a look at the places we work and the things we surround ourselves with." The real value is no not the desk, but the chair.
Activity based work momentum
That shift of value from the desk to the chair is about the increase in mobility in the office brought by lighter technology, ubiquitous wifi and other advances. That also means that holding a fixed place in the office is no longer necessary, nor perhaps even desirable. The benefits of Activity-Based Work environments are now becoming clearer.