Architecture :In the News

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Southeast Michigan's second shipping container house completed in Royal Oak

Other than the tiny house, no form of experimental, eco-friendly housing seems to capture people's attention quite like the shipping container house. Last week, metro Detroit's second house built from shipping containers was completed in Royal Oak (the first, located in Detroit's North Corktown neighborhood, was finished this summer).

MLive's Ian Thibodeau writes, "At first glance, it might even be hard to tell a large portion of the new home is made out of recycled shipping containers," though the 2,250-square-foot, three bedroom home on Rochester Road is composed of five of them.

ModEco Development, the company behind the container house, tells Thibodeau that in addition to being stronger and safer than conventional houses, its design costs 10-15 percent less to build.

Cheap materials, however, don't translate to cheap prices. Thibodeau reports that the house has already sold for a whopping $430,000.

Read more about the Royal Oak shipping container house and in MLive.

GM Tech Center receives National Historic Landmark designation

Warren's GM Tech Center was one of only nine sites around the country named as National Historic Landmarks in 2014.


"The General Motors Technical Center (commonly known as the "GM Tech Center") is one of the most significant works of architect Eero Saarinen, who was among the most important modernist designers of the post-World War II period in the United States. The GM Tech Center marked Saarinen’s emergence onto the national stage and was the first of his four influential suburban corporate campuses that represented a sea change in American business facilities."

More here.

The Wall Street Journal tours the home of eponymous fashion retailer Linda Dresner

Always ahead of the fashion curve, boutique owner Linda Dresner talks business, fashion, and home design philophy with The Wall Street Journal. 


"For 25 years, she owned an eponymous fashion boutique on Park Avenue in Manhattan, along with a shop in Michigan, still in operation not far from her home in Birmingham. Brands such as Dries Van Noten and Junya Watanabe are available in designer department stores all over the country today—not to mention on the Internet—but back when Dresner began in the business, in the late 1970s, she startled her Midwestern clientele with astonishing clothes by such designers, brought back from Milan and Paris. "I was one of the first to have Saint Laurent. I still have some of my original clients."

Of her plans to hold a first party at her new home, a benefit for Detroit's Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCAD), she says,

"Curators love Detroit; they think it's like early Berlin."

More here

Cooley Law School building is one of world's most impressive

A rainwater harvesting system, a green roof, low flow plumbing and other eco-focused features has landed Cooley Law School in Auburn Hills at #35 on the list of the most impressive law school buildings in the world, according to Best Choice Schools.


"Established in 1972 in Lansing, Michigan, the institution’s Auburn Hills campus recently received LEED Silver certification. Renovations to the existing structure and an additional 64,000 square feet were designed by SHW Group architects and engineers, and include a green roof, rainwater-harvesting system, low flow plumbing, and an energy efficient lighting system."

More here


Renovation is the key to local urbanization

With the awakening of local construction projects, businesses and investors are snapping up historic buildings and breathing new life into them.


"In Royal Oak, a former jewelry store and small office building is being turned into an architecture studio and residence.
A project to turn an old theater in Clawson into a retail space is also ready to start construction.

If there's a silver lining to the slow times in the past generation, it's the ready supply of buildings to be redeveloped, said Kent Anderson, principal in the Detroit-based Hamilton Anderson Associates architecture firm."

Read the rest of the story here.

Detroit blogger uncovers modern living in St. Clair Shores

Detroit's modern living boutique Mezzanine blogs about a modern living oasis in St. Clair Shores.


An influx of young Dwell magazine-reading families could really make this neighborhood of starter homes a hot little modern gem - a bookend for the more traditional Cabbage Patch neighborhood at the southern border of Grosse Pointe.  The price is right on these places - my pics were taken last fall, BEFORE the market bottomed out - when they were going for a little over $100k typically, and a fixer upper was priced as above.  And they're all in walking, and certainly biking, distance from some great shops and restaurants on Mack Avenue, including Josef's bakery and Merchant's Wines.

With a little elbow grease to un-DIY some of the design mistakes, and a few more Mini Coopers in the driveways, this neighborhood could be out-of-control cool.

Read the entire article here.

America's forgotten architect, Albert Kahn, remembered

Albert Kahn gave Detroit a face back in the '20s in the same way the auto industry gave it a name. With hundreds of buildings, factories, and homes designed by the architect here in Detroit, he rarely gets the credit he deserves and is, oftentimes, referred to as "the other Kahn," because of post-war modernist Louis Kahn (no relation). Regardless of name weight, Albert Kahn is responsible for most of Detroit's skyline.


Albert Kahn is America’s forgotten architect — even though in his lifetime, he (and his firm) produced more buildings than any other architect, and his design and production method changed the face of the country. Eighty years before the bailout of the auto industry, just before the Great Depression, Kahn built the most opulent of Detroit’s new corporate skyscrapers — the Art Deco-style Fisher Building. Facing the GM headquarters, Kahn’s grandest expression of civic architecture defined the unique American union of commercial and civic identity.

Detroit Auto Show 2009 this month pinned its hopes for a 21st century transformation of the American motor industry on selling the complex technologies of electric engines. The person who transformed the space and appearance of Detroit in the 20th century, though he favored technology did not depend on complexity.

Read the entire article here.

A crane in the skyline is a good thing - but thank the University of Michigan

There are a lot of cranes in the Ann Arbor skyline these days, which, obviously, is a good thing because it means some extensive construction is happening. And, not in all cases, but in most, the University of Michigan is to thank. Most of those cranes and most of Ann Arbor's construction stems from the U.


Those who keep a close eye on local developments say the latest construction boom, like many of those previous, is an example of how Ann Arbor benefits from the presence of the University of Michigan.

While some of the big building projects are the work of private developers, most of the biggest ones are university projects. And even some of the private projects - two large apartment complexes marketed for students, for example - are the result of the university's presence.

Read the entire article here.

Warren Civic Center and Kresge HQ nab real estate awards

The Warren Civic Center and Kresge Foundation headquarters in Troy have been awarded 2007 Impact Awards by the Detroit chapter of Commercial Real Estate Women.

The winners will be feted at a September 20 luncheon. Registration and more information are available at the CREW Detroit website.

Progress continues on LTU's solar house

In three months, the solar house that Lawrence Technological University students are currently erecting on-campus will be on display on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. as one of 20 competitors in the National Solar Decathlon Competition.


LTU's house - like those of MIT, Carnegie Mellon and other competitors - must collect and store enough solar energy to run air conditioning and other appliances and operate home computers. Extra power will power a lightweight vehicle.

Read the entire article here.

Public input wanted on A2's new municipal center July 24

The city of Ann Arbor is hosting a public meeting to solicit public input on plans for its new municipal center.

The meeting will take place on July 24 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Ann Arbor District Library's main branch in the lower level multipurpose room.

More info at

Architecture for Humanity co-founder to speak at Cranbrook Apr. 12

Architecture for Humanity co-founder Cameron Sinclair will speak at the Cranbrook Art Museum on April 12 at 7 p.m. as part of the Wired Magazine Speaker Series.


Frustrated that less than two percent of the world benefits from architectural services and that one in seven people live in slum settlements, Sinclair co-founded the non-profit Architecture for Humanity to help find architecture solutions to humanitarian crises and brings design services to communities in need. For the last six years his team has initiated and implemented a number of programs including post-Katrina disaster relief in New Orleans; housing ideas for returning refugees in Kosovo; mobile health clinics to combat HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa; mine clearance programs and playground building in the Balkans; and disaster recovery assistance in Grenada, India, Iran and Sri Lanka.

Read more here.

Green building consultant discusses local trends

James Newman, area green building consultant, talks with Crain's about local trends in green building and LEED certification.


Interestingly enough, Michigan is eighth highest among the 50 states in terms of green buildings. Five of the states which are ahead of us — Washington, Oregon, California, New York and Pennsylvania — all have policies which encourage building green and sustainable. So we’re not doing too badly considering we have no help from our government or our utilities. The only available assistance at this time is from nonprofit organizations or foundations.

I would welcome comments from our legislators or our utilities.

Read the entire article here.

Washington Post reviews MOCAD's Shrinking Cities exhibit

The Washington Post takes a long, hard look at the Shrinking Cities exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, calling it "dense and elemental and important."


Throughout both parts of the show -- the more sociological and documentary pieces at Cranbrook, and the artistic "interventions" on display at MOCAD -- there is a profound sense of the paradoxical. Urban decay is ugly, but ruins are beautiful. Shrinking cities are emptied of their vitality, and yet that seems to unleash unpredictable artistic forces, and eccentricities.

It's unlikely that "Slim's Bike" (a bicycle decorated to baroque excess by one of Detroit's more colorful citizens) or "The Heidelberg Project" (a collection of old houses encrusted with trash, dolls, stuffed animals, etc., by Detroit artist Tyree Guyton) would exist except in a city too wounded to care about suppressing its creative and anarchic instincts. Just as nature abhors a vacuum, the spectrum of creativity abhors gray spaces.

Read the entire article here.

State's plan to raze abandoned homes is raising hopes in cities

Cecelia Smothers-Reese stood on her porch Thursday and looked at the burned-out shell of a home next door to her on Benson Street on Detroit's east side.

It's been like that for two years -- an all too common sight in Smothers-Reese's neighborhood and others throughout Detroit.

The previous owner, an elderly woman, moved, and a fire shortly afterward destroyed the house. Looters stripped the remains for scrap metal.

"Most of us that own the homes that we're in try our best to keep up the properties," said Smothers-Reese, 55, who has lived there since 1959. "It really adds to the deterioration of the neighborhood. They're dangerous, too."

Smothers-Reese would be among those helped by Gov. Jennifer Granholm's plan to tear down 5,000 blighted and abandoned homes in eight cities, including Detroit, over four years.

The $25-million plan, announced last month in her State of the State address, would be Michigan's most aggressive anti-blight initiative.

Read the entire article here.

18 Architecture Articles | Page: | Show All
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