Detroit is undoubtedly a city that’s undergoing a lot of change. But what will that change look like, and will what’s built be something residents can be proud of?

Today the Director of Planning and Development for the city, Maurice Cox, and the Vice President of Architecture & Design for Bedrock, Melissa Dittmer, took media on a tour of a new exhibition and architectural advocacy platform, Detroit Design 139.

The space at 1001 Woodward contains 38 development projects, most that already in-process or completed, in the city of Detroit. Nearly half of them were outside of the oft-talked about greater downtown 7.2 square miles.

It’s a modern vision for a city that has to balance many factors when it comes to development, whether it’s the projects that are completed, in-progress, or visioned for the future.

The exhibit focuses on seven themes with projects in areas from Old Redford to Southwest Detroit to downtown to Morningside. They are the Riverfront, Urban Design, Neighborhood Planning, Mix Tape (for commercial corridors), U of M Design Studio, Adaptive Reuse, and New Construction.

Although Detroit Design 139 is a juried exhibit, the projects themselves, according to Cox, have the voice of the community influencing them.

Cox and Dittmer outlined that a core idea is that Detroit should demand a high design standard for all future projects within its 139 square miles based on 10 core principles.

  1. Advance design as a means to improve the quality of life for all people
  2. Advance a thoughtful design process rooted in meaningful community engagement
  3. Seek creative solutions to solve long-standing urban issues
  4. Honor context and history through contemporary design
  5. Active the public realm
  6. Balance community cohesion with aesthetic diversity
  7. Impress the value of design on all projects and all audiences – emphasizing equity, design excellence and inclusion
  8. Explore new ways to live, work and play together in the 21st century city
  9. Celebrate Detroit’s design legacy, while contributing to the city’s design future
  10. Balance function and beauty

In order to make it into the exhibition, projects submitted were then chosen by an international jury of architecture critics chaired by Toni Griffin. If you remember, she was a driving force behind the Detroit Future City framework in 2013.

The exhibition opens to the public later this week on Thursday, September 14 and runs through Sunday, September 30. The hours are 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. each day in the lobby of 1001 Woodward in Detroit.

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