Where else in the U.S. can you buy or lease prime real estate in the heart of a downtown at a bargain rate?  Detroit offers low-cost space that is located within a robust manufacturing industry.  How much lower could it get?  At some point Detroit will be able to rebound, and the Technology Incubation Center looks to be at the heart of this revival.  This center is ideal for technology start-ups that are looking for cheap rent, and a collaborative environment that has direct access to a major industry.  Additionally with the recession of built space throughout the city, a fresh start is on the horizons for a city with a ton of history and potential.


What makes old buildings good to renovate?

~ construction quality
~ nice, durable materials
~ hardy structure
~ established infrastructure
~ historical precedence

Issues renovating buildings built in the early 1900’s

~ energy efficiency (envelope)
~ code compliance
~ floor plate heights
~ hazardous materials
~ MEP and technology modernization
~ conveying system modernization


What does it cost to renovate an old building versus build new?

Renovating of an old building is usually more economical than tearing it down and building a new one from scratch, unless there is a need for larger individual floors in the building or the land owner is determined to get more out of the plot than carry on with that old “zoning regulations ziggurat”…

The most arduous single undertaking in renovating old skyscraper interiors is the addition of air-conditioning ducts, because buildings built before 1950 usually have no provision for them. To accommodate ducting, holes are cut in the floors, through which the vertical ducts are then run. Other service additions and improvements include new plumbing and electric, telephone and computer network cables.

Old buildings can also be retrofitted with a more modern facade panelling to extend the lifespan of the building. The problems with fastening of facade panels to the frame can also cause problems in modern skyscrapers. The case of the Amoco Building (1973) in Chicago is one such, when a relatively new skyscraper facade had to be re-clad in a new material because of falling-off panels.5

Lastly, the last thing that Detroit needs is more architecture.  WIth over 70,000 buildings having been and in the process of being demolished, the future lies within what the city already has.  A reinvestment with restore character and concerve resources.  The model over the last decade has been to build extravegant new buildings that are supposed to bring new people to the city.  Rather it gentrifies these areas and has had little effect on the recovery.  Can these old buildings be re-used?  The answer is why not?


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