This article was sent to me by a fellow student, and I feel it explains exactly how I hope this project will aid in recovering the economy of Detroit, and ultimately revive the city into a new digitally driven manufacturing hub.
In the article Bruce Katz states “Economy shaping is going to require a new kind of placemaking. Placemaking has been focused around quality places and liveable places, which is very important to attract and retain talented workers. But the urban planning field has been too narrowly focused on placemaking.”
The goal of my project is not to create some new great place for people to come and go as they please. The project is designed to engage people in a fundamentally different way. It is going to draw them in not through the beauty of the architecture, but through the substance it provides. The innovation, the creativity, the aura are the essential elements that keep people coming back. The idea is not to create a place that is flashy and is the talk of the town for a couple of years until the next big thing comes along. The idea is to create something that truly progresses the norm. Something that transcends current comprehension and opens up new doors that no one knows exists.
For this reason, the project is located in building that currently exist, buildings that have been neglected for thirty years. The project adapts these building to create spaces and architecture that does more than provide a place for people to come. It provides a place for people to learn, to collaborate, to adapt and to transcend themselves into new discoveries.
The future of Detroit does not lie in new casinos or sporting complexes. The future of Detroit lies within its people and their ability to adapt to the ever changing world. The future of Detroit lies within its economy and its ability to adapt to new technologies and industries. The future of Detroit lies within its people to create something truly transcending.
Bruce Katz: Better Economic Structure Will Save the City
“Monument to Joe Louis,” Detroit’s iconic sculpture. Photo: Dogs New Clothes/Flickr
Bruce Katz sees the future of our cities a little differently than his fellow urbanists.
Katz, the founding director of the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program, believes optimizing economic structure, not urban form, is the key to revitalizing depressed cities and strengthening thriving ones. It’s a departure from the thinking of many colleagues, who believe revitalization based on pretty buildings and the service sector will attract business.
The way Katz sees it, cities have gotten their forms down pretty well. Most of them have done a good job optimizing density, emphasizing greenspace and generally making things more attractive. But economic development has too often focused on what Katz calls “Starbucks and stadia.”
There is a legitimate case for service-sector communities, he argues, but it is far wiser to embrace tech, manufacturing and exports. This would bring more shared and sustainable growth as cities shift from consumption- and service-reliant economies toward economies built on innovation and production.
Wired.com: You’re suggesting cities take a fundamentally different approach to urban development than has been the norm. Who’s actually doing it?
Bruce Katz: New York. If you look at New York right now, what Mayor [Michael] Bloomberg focused on for the last decade was building stadiums for use in the Olympics. That has changed to focus on the applied sciences and attract Cornell [University] and other institutions to build and diversify New York’s economy from the service and financial sectors of the economy.
Wired.com: What other cities are embracing this model?
Katz: In other cities and regions, such as northeast Ohio, they are focused on retooling the industrial sector for the green economy because they are a powerhouse for manufacturing. This builds on their history, including the automotive industry. Seattle has the potential to be a hub of big, clean information technology due to the firms already in the region, such as Microsoft.
Wired.com: Has the recession played a role in this?
Katz: Since the recession cities are now moving away from the service and real estate sectors and starting to look toward the tradable economy for sustained growth. These are the wealth-generating sectors that drive everything else. Without them you do not have a functioning retail or housing sector. We are trying to work with cities on identifying their strengths and how they focus on moving their economies toward this model of development.
Wired.com: During the last 30 years cities have focused on creating places and on the urban form. Is what you’re suggesting so different an approach?
Katz: Yes, but urban form is critical to this. Economy shaping is going require a new kind of placemaking. Placemaking has been focused around quality places and liveable places, which is very important to attract and retain talented workers. But the urban planning field has been too narrowly focused on placemaking.
Katz: You can’t just focus on housing and transit in the core of a city, you need to focus on the physical needs of manufacturing, development and the needs that go along with them. That will clearly have a huge effect not only on the city but regional level.
Wired.com: How so?
Katz: On the city level, it will create what we call innovation districts. If you take the major research institutions and tech clusters that are being created, how do you take them and arrange them in a purposeful way with mixed use housing and amenities that attract talent but work for industry? Boston is doing this and Barcelona is clearly doing this. San Francisco and Detroit are doing this also. These cities are creating places that let all of these sectors work in a derivative way and form starting at the economic level. By doing this the form follows these sectors that drive wealth.
Wired.com: San Francisco and Detroit are two vastly different cities in two different regions, culturally and economically, especially with regard to tech…
Katz: I am actually very bullish on Detroit. If you look at the Woodward corridor downtown to midtown, what you see is the growth of some tech-oriented industries with Quicken Loans and Compuware and Henry Ford Medical and Wayne State. What you have are some major institutions being the platform of both residential growth, which is happening, but also the growth of business incubators. I think the core of Detroit, with focused public and private sector investment, could be very different. You also have the added bonus of seeing Canada from Detroit. Having our largest trading partner bordering the city is a big advantage, and one that hasn’t been exploited. The growth from that in the way that we see in Europe across national lines could really change how Detroit grows in the future.
Wired.com: Not to dwell on Detroit, but do you think it could be the next tech city?
Katz: Detroit has the possibility to do that, yes. Detroit also has some real problems that need to be addressed, but with what is going on there the entire core could be an innovation district.
Wired.com: What needs to happen for cities like Detroit to rebound?
Katz: The cities that will flourish are the ones that are on the vanguard of policy. Historically, New York and Chicago have the ability to adapt and flourish because large cities are essentially co-governed. Private capital and institutions work with city governments to create physical forms and policies that perpetuate this type of growth.
Wired.com: But can Detroit become Silicon Valley?
Katz:The tech we should focus on is not just Facebook tech or Google tech but rather manufacturing tech, green tech. If we don’t focus on this we will see ourselves in 50 years having lost our economic advantage and loose our place in the world. This is well within our grasp. We have the ability to be the leaders if we just focus our attention. This is not just about advanced telecommunications. That it is part of it. But most of our new patents come form manufacturing. We need to stay on the forefront of this.
Wired.com: You’ve mentioned things like public investment, smarter policy and the need for more government involvement. Given the current political climate, is this possible? Can we even have the discussion?
Katz: If you really want smart cities, you do not want government to get of the way, you want it to get into the game. You can really integrate technology across places and spaces throughout cities if the government is working with the tech sector to make it happen. It takes local political leaders and private capital to make it happen. The federal government is very disconnected from this. The cities are the engines of the economy. It is not Ben Bernanke who will do this, but cities supporting their key industries.