FEATURED THIS WEEK : JERRY HERRON
"Detroit looks just like a city, except it's not one any more. But instead of vanishing, like the Mayan cities of Mesoamerica, it persists in a death-in-life existence, and that is what lends the place an uncanny relevance.... Detroit may be emptied out, but it is hardly over, nor will it be any time soon, precisely because of the questions that this city/not raises. What could have happened here? Does it have anything to do with the rest of America?" Writer and historian — and long-time Detroiter — Jerry Herron explores Detroit past and present, finding resonance in observers ranging from Alexis de Tocqueville to Eminem. This is the first of a 3-part installment.
Last week we featured "Borderland/Borderama/Detroit," Jerry Herron's thoughtful exploration of the decades-long decline of Detroit, and of the city's tenacity, against great odds. Here Dan Pitera, of the Detroit Collaborative Design Center, curates a portfolio of recent projects — a composite portrait of how artists, architects and activists are working to reinvigorate some of the city's abandoned landscapes.
"How to apply 'city' in relation to unprecedented conditions? That's the question. Where to look historically for sources of meaning and intelligence, when the essence of Detroit's success and also undoing — from Henry Ford's five-dollar day to the wartime 'arsenal of democracy' to post-urban dystopia — has been the successive outmoding of precedents, or the very expectation that there should be any, at least when this place is involved." From the final installment — see also part 1
and part 2
— of Jerry Herron's searching essay on the rise and fall — and persistence — of Detroit.
"... Perhaps the most distinctive feature of American city-making is the border between city and not-city. The uncanny representations of Detroit are no accident. Things that might otherwise seem unthinkable — the wholesale abandonment of urban wealth and the abandonment of people trapped inside the city ... — these are made to appear spectacularly inevitable here, and also irrelevant just because they are here. Detroit is a site both to confront our problems and also to get over them." From part two of Jerry Herron's exploration of the meanings of Detroit. The final installment will appear tomorrow.
PLACES ARCHIVE: WINTER 1983
Just before his death in 1984, the influential urban planner Kevin Lynch compiled a list of topics he thought important for the future of cities. The list is as relevant as ever.
Pratt Institute, School of Architecture
The work of the students here at Pratt shows a clear appreciation and understanding of the possibilities of architecture today, as the mission of the school is dedicated to design and a complete understanding of the making of cities and buildings. The spirit of advancing architectural ideas in terms of both form and technique is at the essence of the transformation of contemporary design.