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SPECIAL REPORT — 1

W AR RE N SP EC IA L RE PO RT FR O M CR IS IS TO PR O JE CT

CRISIS

JACKSON: ‘IT’S NOT THE BIG THREE. IT’S 4 MILLION JOBS’ ... 2

LEAVING MICHIGAN BEHIND: EIGHT-YEAR POPULATION EXODUS STAGGERS STATE 3

AUTO COLLAPSE WOULD RIPPLE ACROSS COUNTRY

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METRO AREA HOME VALUES SINK FORECLOSURE GLUT FUELS DOUBLE-DIGIT DROPS IN MACOMB, OAKLAND 5

FORECLOSURES UP BY 81% IN U.S.

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THE FORECLOSURE FACTORY: METRO DETROIT IS A NATIONAL CENTER OF THE CRISIS


WARREN SPECIAL REPORT FROM CR ISIS TO PROJECT

CITY OF PROJECTS— 21ST CENTURY WARREN 179,260 between 1940 and 1970. Indeed, it was one of the fastest growing cities in the United States in that period. Federal programs and policies played a central role in the rapid growth and industrialization of suburban areas through highway construction and mortgage subsidies supporting the ownership of new suburban homes. Within a relatively short period metropolitan Detroit experienced a massive reordering. People and money left the central city en masse and relocated to the suburbs. In metropolitan Detroit homeownership and racism were closely linked and influential in shaping the development of the region. Warren remained over ninety percent white for decades while Detroit grew increasingly black. Positioning itself in stark contrast to Detroit, Warren was able to draw businesses, people and their money out of the central city to fuel its own growth. Warren was the ‘City of Progress’ succeeding as Detroit seemed to fail. The city of working and middle class families had become America’s future, proof of the American Dream’s viability for those who are diligent, practical and forward thinking. It became a perfect example of American values and the willpower to pursue them through hard work and homeownership. The suburban lifestyle was the material reward for America’s middle class, the workers who had endured and provided the labor to fuel Detroit’s industrial might. Yet Warren’s status as a destination city did not last. By 1970 the city’s population had grown to its height of 179,260. From that date on Warren lost population more quickly than almost any other U.S. city. People seemed to move through Warren on their way to bigger homes and ‘better’ suburbs and the city’s manufacturing industry dwindled. Continued expansion of the tax base was the fundamental driver of

BY CHRISTIAN ERNSTEN AND TONI MOCERI

Seeking bold visions for how the metropolitan suburb can herald a new rendition of the American dream and utilizing the current crisis as inspiration, this special report seeks to imagine how suburban cities throughout America could evolve in the coming decades. Struggling real estate and financial markets, surging foreclosures, rising unemployment and the looming fallout from the failure of the auto industry all come together to produce a crisis of extreme proportion in the metropolitan Detroit region. Once the fastest growing city in the United States, Detroit’s largest suburb, Warren, staked its future on the continued might of its manufacturing industry and appeal of its single family homes. It is here, amid the tremendous challenges of this now humbled suburban landscape, that we find motivation for action and vision. In the early 1800s the area that was to become Warren was rich with wetlands, creeks and forests, much like the rest of the southeastern territory of Michigan. Before the establishment of the township, Warren was a small settlement known as Beebe’s Corner. Serving as a way station for anyone traveling north from Detroit, it was essentially a road tollgate that grew to include a tavern, distillery, mill and trading post. As more people settled the area it was subdivided and organized into a township of farms in 1835. Originally Hickory Township, the name was changed to Warren in 1839 after the first hero of the Revolutionary War, General Joseph Warren. As the City of Detroit grew in the first half of the century, so did Warren. The automobile industry became one of the most pervasive forces influencing the urbanization of Detroit and its outlying areas. Rail lines reaching north from Detroit provided the impetus of growth and Warren’s farm and wetlands began to surrender to development in the late 1930s. Soon the area began to attract world-class military and automotive facilities. Metropolitan Detroit’s conversion into the ‘Arsenal of Democracy’ during World War II propelled the expansion of the military-industrial complex into the unlimited space north of Detroit including the Detroit Arsenal Tank Plant designed by architect Albert Kahn. In 1950, in open space accessible by rail, General Motors began developing their Technical Center. Designed by architects Eliel and Eero Saarinen, the renowned campus was ceremonially opened by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956. The City of Warren was incorporated in 1957. Encompassing 34.5 square miles, the city is organized in an auto-dependent, gridded arterial system of Mile Roads. Warren could be seen as the typical suburb with single-family homes, commercial retail strips and manufacturing related industry spanning from the famed Eight Mile Road to Fourteen Mile Road. As part the massive American suburbanization of the post World War II era, Warren’s population surged from 42,653 to

ENCOMPASSING 34.5 SQUARE MILES, THE CITY IS ORGANIZED IN AN AUTO-DEPENDENT GRIDDED ARTERIAL SYSTEM OF MILE ROADS. WARREN COULD BE SEEN AS THE TYPICAL SUBURB WITH SINGLE-FAMILY HOMES, COMMERCIAL RETAIL STRIPS AND MANUFACTURING ... development and filled any remaining open space with detached condominiums, single story office buildings and the like. Over the years the city’s economic vitality paralleled the ups and downs of the auto industry. The city had done little to move beyond its manufacturing industry, homeownership and auto dependent values even as it celebrated its fiftieth anniversary. Now it also has the status of one of the most rapidly aging cities

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SUPPLEMENT TO VOLUME 20

R EDEFINING THE AMER ICAN DR EAM

Heritage Village, 2009 PHOTO: CORINE VERMEULEN-SMITH

in the United States as it struggles to attract the young families central to the suburban lifestyle. The start of 21st century proved that Warren could no longer continue with business as usual. The economic and real estate crisis followed by the related financial stimulus of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and imminent restructuring of the American auto industry has created an urgent need in cities like Warren for radical transformation. Some have argued that the death of suburbia is to be expected and would even be liberating. Clearly this is a simplification; a complete erasure of suburbia is very unlikely in the near future. In fact the 2000 U.S. Census confirmed that suburbs continue to dominate the United States demographically, economically and politically. These places are a powerful shaper of America policies that have global implications. Yet there is an immediate need for a more dynamic approach. Indeed, places like Warren are at the heart of the battle over the future of the American Dream. For this reason they should lead the way in defining how a different narrative and type of civic attitude can shape the 21st century. Warren is transforming and simultaneously innovating by increasing collaboration with urban areas beyond its boundaries. Resources are limited, but there is energy for renewal. A fundamental rethinking of the city’s values and its relationship to the metropolitan Detroit region is of eminent importance. People continue to build their lives in Warren, investing energy, time and money. Optimistic visionaries predict that suburbia after the crisis will be at the center of a cultural shift, a lifestyle change that necessitates economic restructuring and the reorganization of community and space. The demise of suburbia is not at stake. Instead they argue for a new type of urban

THE ECONOMIC AND REAL ESTATE CRISIS FOLLOWED BY THE RELATED FINANCIAL STIMULUS OF THE AMERICAN RECOVERY AND REINVESTMENT ACT AND IMMINENT RESTRUCTURING OF THE AMERICAN AUTO INDUSTRY HAS CREATED AN URGENT NEED IN CITIES LIKE WARREN FOR RADICAL TRANSFORMATION. monumentality through a strategic reorganization of infrastructure and public buildings that have lasting historic significance. Still the question remains whether the current crisis will be a true catalyst for suburbia to become more than the American Dream as we have known it. Mere attempts to restore, stabilize or reconstruct what once allowed American suburbs to thrive won’t be enough to keep up with the rapid pace and negative effects of outsourcing and deindustrialization. Bold steps need to be taken. As one-time visitor of Warren, Dutch architectural historian Arjen Oosterman, remarked ‘the situation is grim but American optimism has beaten ghosts and giants’. The American pioneering spirit bodes well for the future of suburbia. In shaping that future three words come to mind: community, partnership and innovation. Initiatives to accelerate suburbia out of the current downturn need to be based on the appreciation of old values in new ways, at the both regional and local levels. Indeed, the demographic realities of Warren offer opportunity: Warren’s population is more diverse than ever before. It’s Polish, German, Irish, Italian, English and Ukrainian

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WARREN SPECIAL REPORT FROM CR ISIS TO PROJECT

families have been increasingly joined by African-American, Hmong, Chaldean and Muslim groups. Old and new groups could exchange and share community values as well as strategic techniques and projects to deal with the crisis. Gran Torino, filmmaker Clint Eastwood’s motion picture of Detroit metropolitan life shows the difficulties as well as the virtues of changing communities. Immigration has been and continues to be central to the region’s vivacity. History shows that culturally diverse and open communities are essential to job growth, entrepreneurship, innovation and the dynamism of our cities. New partnerships have the potential to create new

opportunities to reposition Warren in the region and counter the city’s over reliance on the automotive industry. Energetic groups of unlikely partners – local homeowners, businesses, politicians along with local and international institutions and professionals – now have the chance to rethink how the city organizes itself, specifically with regards to the relation between housing, work, transportation and leisure. As such, the City of Warren needs a Master Plan to enable regional collaboration, catalyze innovation and facilitate alternative forms of ownership and production. In addition, projects such as the Van Dyke-8 Mile Gateway Collaborative (V-8) and Design 99 Powerhouse project provide examples of new approaches that should inform the city’s planning process. The V-8 consists of partners from Detroit, Centerline and Warren actively developing regional strategies that support physical revitalization and social equity activities, unrestricted by municipal boundaries. The Powerhouse prioritizes small-scale do-it-yourself entrepreneurship and production. Projects such as the Powerhouse are simultaneously community based and networked through media technologies with like-minded efforts that locally produce energy, food, furniture and all kinds of niche goods. These initiatives illustrate the importance of leveraging shared assets and experiences to enhance economic viability and quality of life. Finally, a new collaboration, a partnership of hope must be built between the City of Warren and the corporations that call it home, particularly General Motors. The crisis urges both public and private partners to reconsider their methods, values and opportunities in the interest of shared solutions. Community and commercial ventures should be engineered in smart ways. Advancement in manufacturing and engineering as well as infrastructure and transportation are likely common

The situation is grim but American optimism has beaten ghosts and giants ILLUSTRATION: TAYLOR SHEPHERD

STRENGTH IN PRODUC TION ; SPACE FOR SOLUTIONS

... PROJECTS BASED ON NEIGHBORHOOD SELFORGANIZATION, INNOVATIVE ENTREPRENEURSHIP AND CREATIVE PARTNERSHIPS WILL DETERMINE WARREN’S FUTURE. goals. While the road ahead may already be paved, creative partnerships have the capacity to spark a broad-minded, more sustainable version of urban development. Instead of restoring old values, projects based on neighborhood self-organization, innovative entrepreneurship and creative partnerships will determine Warren’s future. Once a gateway out of the central city, Warren could become a model for how the suburb can redirect the region’s focus towards reinvigorating the American Dream in previously unimagined ways. The ingenuity, creativity and entrepreneurial spirit of metropolitan Detroit was a fundamental force in the 20th century; it literally moved the world. Join us in envisioning where Warren moves us next. Toni Moceri is a Macomb County Commissioner representing the northwest portion of Warren and a lifelong resident of the city. Christian Ernsten is editor at Volume Magazine and partner in Partizan Publik, based in Amsterdam.

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R EDEFINING THE AMER ICAN DR EAM

Fig. 1

Fig. 4

WARREN

MACOMB COUNTY

DETROIT

WAYNE COUNT Y

Fig. 2

DE T ROI T

Fig. 5

Fig. 1, Michigan in context of the United States; Fig. 2, Warren in relation to Macomb County relative to Wayne County; Fig. 3, Warren (lower left) in relation to Macomb County; Fig. 4, Street map of Warren; Fig. 5, City of Warren seal symbolizing the historical assets of the municipality

Fig. 3

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WARREN SPECIAL REPORT FROM CR ISIS TO PROJECT

W

W

POLITICAL MACHINE {IN RESPONSE TO}

TRANSITION IN THE ‘CITY OF PROGRESS’ tour the city’s former U.S. Army Detroit Arsenal Tank Plant property and write about the metamorphosis of the ‘Arsenal of Democracy,’ where more tanks rolled out of an iconic factory designed by Albert Kahn during World War II than were produced in all of Nazi Germany. The site eventually became the most successful commercial redevelopment of a former military facility in U.S. history and a nearly $40-million boon for Warren’s general fund budget. I followed a $1 billion investment at the General Motors Technical Center, the company’s North American engineering epicenter, and wrote at length about the city’s efforts to fund its new municipal offices and civic center library with funds sold against the promise of tax dollars paid by GM, and others, into the Warren’s Downtown Development Authority district.

BY BRIAN LOUWERS WARREN, MI — ­ There’s a steady

SOCIAL CONDITIONS, ECONOMY & CULTURAL VALUES {WHICH CONTROLS}

AMERICAN DREAM

=

STRATEGIC INVESTMENTS,

{INTERSTATE HIGHWAY SYSTEM}

POLICY,

{FEDERAL MORTGAGE FINANCING REGULATION}

INCENTIVE

{TAX STRUCTURE} &

TECHNOLOGY

{BALLOON FRAME MASS PRODUCED HOUSING}

VISIONARY LEADERSHIP {PURSUIT OF: HAPPINESS, FREEDOM}

Diagram outlining the framework that has defined the ‘American Dream’

stream of traffic flowing into Warren these days, but unlike years past it’s not carloads of families looking for new homes in Detroit’s innerring suburbs or job seekers looking to fund lifestyles with livelihoods set in factories, warehouses, offices or commercial spaces. Many of those heading to Warren in 2009 carry notepads and cameras. They’ve come, along with their counterparts from all over the world, to document life on the frontlines of the nation’s economic troubles, at the epicenter of the American auto industry’s hardships, where the global financial crisis has hit home with a vengeance. In today’s Warren the story is often one rooted in the staggering number of homes either left abandoned or in foreclosure. It is a tale marked by high unemployment and one amplified by a growing strain on the remaining resources available to the region’s families, businesses and units of government. For those of us who live here, it’s the way it is – and it’s certainly newsworthy – but it wasn’t always this way, not even in our recent memory. Warren, Michigan’s third-largest city, was on the move when I started covering it in 2000 as a general assignment reporter for the local weekly newspaper. I jumped at the chance to

stories in the Warren Weekly are about fear – fear on the part of businesses owners struggling to keep the lights on and the doors open as fewer patrons pass through them, and fear on the part of hardworking men and women in danger of losing their homes, after already losing their jobs. Even most typically stoic local administrators are nervous, as tax revenues that were once plentiful continue to wither and as needed projects that rely on those precious funds die on the proverbial vine, a bitter parallel to the sharp decline in the region’s property values and business climate. In Warren, it’s no news flash that everyone is worrying about their ability to pay the bills. From Michigan’s Gov. Jennifer Granholm on down many officials agree that the state needs to position itself as a leader in the development of ‘green’ products and ‘green’ jobs if it is to thrive in the future. And just as the factories of Warren sprung from the once-fertile farmland during the middle part of 20th century, the city’s existing properties – specifically, the GM Tech Center – look to be

JOBS, HOPES AND DREAMS ARE AT STAKE IN WARREN. At a dusty construction site just west of the Tech Center, on property previously owned by GM, I took notes as the Heritage Village development broke ground, in part, as planned attractive new housing stock for GM engineers going to work at the Tech Center. That was less than four years ago. In 2009 many of the

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logically poised to lead the way in the engineering of tomorrow’s vehicles. Even in these dire times, there is good news to report. A concerted effort on the part of labor leaders, educators and local politicians – including Warren Mayor Jim Fouts, who has touted his own ‘Buy American’ campaign to bolster sales


SUPPLEMENT TO VOLUME 20

R EDEFINING THE AMER ICAN DR EAM

by Detroit’s Big Three and has attempted to lure GM’s executives from their headquarters in downtown Detroit into existing space at the Tech Center – is falling into place, an obvious attempt to guide and expedite the transformation. The addition of a new battery laboratory at the Tech Center would only improve the facility’s chances of garnering international attention as a place where the cars of tomorrow are engineered and perfected. As home to GM’s North American engineering operations, a GM transmission plant and a Chrysler truck assembly plant that collectively fund through their taxes about 15 percent of the city’s annual $98 million general fund budget, Warren has a lot to lose as the global financial crisis plays out. Many automotive suppliers and

Suburban family households PHOTO: CHRISTIAN ERNSTEN

other businesses – restaurants, barber shops and bars – have already closed shop for good. Beloved family homes are gone forever. A large percentage of the region’s young people are now leaving town in search of jobs elsewhere, contributing to a phenomenon that, along with improved health care and a large number of aging baby boomers, has left the area’s

REINVENTING AMERICA’S METROPOLITAN SUBURBS BY JOHN PAUL REA MT. CLEMENS, MI — ­ We have

reached a defining moment in the dynamic history of American suburban life. Since the late 1800’s the majority of American’s have vacated our urban cores, and chosen to reside in the cozy confines of suburbia. Politicians, developers, architects, planners, financial institutions, and industries have all played an integral part in the unbridled growth

of suburbia. The environment that was created displaced the grit and complexities of urban life with a pristine, homogenous, and easily duplicated societal structure. The suburb, which was once the alternative, has now become the standard of American living, but currently the standard has fallen on hard times. Today, America’s metropolitan suburbs are faced with economic

over 65 age group as the only segment of the population to experience a net increase. But even in the face of today’s realities, Warren also has much to gain if it can invest its governmental, educational and business resources early in what many believe will become the technologies of the future, the kind sought, sold and

purchased the world over. Jobs, hopes and dreams are at stake in Warren. They can be saved if the seeds of the future can be properly sown in those once-fertile lands lying just north of the Motor City.

uncertainty and physical decline. A number of the same social and economic challenges that fueled the fall of urban life have seeped into the fabric of suburban society. Increased crime, declining housing stock, and population loss seem to be commonplace in a number of metropolitan suburban communities. The most recent and devastating

uncertainty in many suburbs across America. Their hope lies in the many federal, state, and local agencies, which are committed to redevelopment and reinvestment in these communities. Their strength lies in the foundation for revitalization, which exists in many metropolitan suburbs. Metropolitan suburban communities, such as Warren, MI, still possess many viable amenities. These communities are anchored by vibrant residential neighborhoods, which are populated by loyal and passionate residents. They are serviced by an integrated and operational road and utility infrastructure, which is positioned to support enhancement and

threat is foreclosure. Many suburban communities are plagued with vacant homes due to the lingering credit and housing crisis, which has led to instability and

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Brian Louwers is a lifelong resident of the Detroit area, a graduate of the University of Michigan-Dearborn and a local journalist for C&G Newspapers who has covered the city of Warren, MI since 2000.


WARREN SPECIAL REPORT FROM CR ISIS TO PROJECT

redevelopment ventures. Many of these suburban communities possess a mixture of established commercial, industrial, and institutional resources that have been serving the public for decades. To top it all off metropolitan suburban communities possess two very convenient characteristics in these difficult economic times: affordability and opportunity. We cannot allow metropolitan suburbs to fall into a constant state of economic decline and physical disinvestments. The crisis we are faced with is unprecedented, however our metropolitan suburban communities still remain intact and focused on revitalization. What society must do now is equip our suburbs with cutting edge planning, design, and development techniques that will allow us to re-imagine suburbia and stimulate growth. One of the great examples hampering the rejuvenation of suburbia is zoning. Metropolitan suburbs were founded on planning and zoning regulations that

supported uniform and compartmentalized land use, prohibiting the emersion of diverse land classifications. In today’s society these exclusionary planning and zoning practices prohibit growth and creativity. Planners and urban design practitioners have begun to implement more fluid development practices focused on mixed-use and traditional neighborhood design. Local decision makers must utilize these tools and provide their communities with the ability to attract new investment and ideas. The days of sprawling residential subdivisions, mundane commercial strip centers, and uninspiring institutional developments have long passed us. We can no longer allow the cul-desac, the strip mall, and the industrial park be the identity of American suburban life. The evolution and current state of American’s metropolitan suburbs and its many positive and negative externalities can be attributed to people, land, money, and technology. My point is

not to defunct any theories of the origins of suburban development or what the current impact suburbs have on society. My purpose it to simplify our understanding of suburbs. What made the suburbs grow was the availability of cheap land, an increase in people, an influx of money,

THE DAYS OF SPRAWLING RESIDENTIAL SUBDIVISIONS, MUNDANE COMMERCIAL STRIP CENTERS, AND UNINSPIRING INSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENTS HAVE LONG PASSED US. WE CAN NO LONGER ALLOW THE CUL-DE-SAC, THE STRIP MALL AND THE INDUSTRIAL PARK BE THE IDENTITY OF AMERICAN SUBURBAN LIFE.

CONSIDERING MODELS BY ANIRBAN ADHYA SOUTHFIELD, MI — ­ Half of hu-

manity now lives in cities and their associated urbanized regions. Within two decades nearly 60 per cent of the world’s population will be urban dwellers. Yet this global urban growth is not uniform across different urban regions. As some urban regions grow in size and population,

are focused on the reuse and rehabilitation of underutilized property; Federal, state, and local agencies have committed billions of dollars in aid to metropolitan suburban communities in order to stabilize local economies; and advancements in green technologies and transportation efficiencies

other urban areas – urban cores, inner-city areas and first ring suburbs – are shrinking and facing the challenges of depopulation and deterioration. The Detroit Metro Area is an illustration of such dynamic urban condition. While southeast Michigan has experienced steady population growth during the last century, Detroit and the

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and a desire for technological innovation. Looking at the current state of metropolitan suburban life one could conclude the following: There is a wave of first time homebuyers that are entering a housing market with great opportunity, affordability, and support; Land may be mostly developed, however many engineering, planning, and urban design practitioners

have laid the foundation for the rejuvenation of America’s aging infrastructure. What this all means is that America’s metropolitan suburban communities possess the people, land, money, and technology needed to revitalize and thrive.

communities surrounding the city have lost more than half their population in the last six decades. This urban condition has created an imbalance between a continuously sprawling periphery consisting of some of the wealthiest suburbs and a deteriorating urban core consisting of Detroit and the first-ring suburbs. This regional imbalance has evolved on account of a combination of historic racial dynamics in housing and employment within Detroit and political

differences between the city and the suburban communities. The current economic crisis has compounded the extant problem of a shrinking city with the new challenges of restructuring the auto industry, the loss of manufacturing sector jobs and real estate foreclosures. One result of this situation has been a lack of effective cooperation and partnership at the regional level: regional governance and political power is weak, regional

John Paul Rea is an Associate Planner with the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development.


SUPPLEMENT TO VOLUME 20

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economic investment is misplaced, regional infrastructure development is poorly planned and even concern with regional problems is extremely low. As the metropolis faces the enormous challenges of the current economic crisis a regional approach is critical considering the valuable resources communities across the region share and can potentially harness. Facing such complex problems, Warren, one of the oldest and the largest suburb of Detroit, gives rise to some critical questions. Where and when do we invest within the city and the region? How do we define a new urban ecosystem based on the multidimensional relationship between city and society, economy, polity and technology? How do we imagine a sustainable community within the context of a shrinking population? The present economic crisis provides an opportunity to address these questions. In the absence of a strong regional political framework and with the failure of the traditional economic

development model, a new model of urban life is needed to transform the Metro Detroit region. Such a new urban direction should promote social, economic and environmental harmony. A community like Warren should foster stronger relationships with other suburban communities and with Detroit. A projectoriented collaborative environment could create a regional framework for creative partnerships and networking. The development of such informal networks will inspire and shape formal regional systems, governance and power-sharing structures. This project-based regional framework can be characterized by strategic regionalism coupled with everyday urbanism – a blend of top-down and bottomup approaches. Reconstituting the public realm of a region requires changes in the way it is imagined. The idea of a region can be effective when it is conceived as more than mere economic partnership and political collaboration between the city and the

surrounding suburbs. Detroit, Warren and the surrounding suburbs should work to capture the imagination of the regional population, to motivate regional collective action and to translate the resulting policies into physical realities. Establishing this regional framework thus also demands concentrated efforts of ‘envisioning, planning, promoting, and creating’ at the local grassroots level. Complementing the top-down regional framework, everyday urbanism emphasizes the bottom-up approach of creating sustainable communities through local projects. The focus is on selecting and investing in projects that address the relevant everyday needs of the community. Based on this idea everyday functional space in Warren could promote a zone of possibility and potential transformation via pragmatic community projects. The process of project selection and investment decision is unique to everyday urbanism. It does not take place according to typical political interests, based on standard business model, or conceived by outside design consultants. Instead everyday urbanism empowers the existing community to participate in active citizenship, form a design agency and create projects through the spontaneous action of everyday inhabitation, appropriation and adaptation in the changing context of the community. The two-way approach of strategic regionalismeveryday urbanism focuses on the people, the assets and their

Foreclosed House, Warren, 2009 PHOTO: CORINE VERMEULEN-SMITH

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EVERYDAY URBANISM, URBANISM EVERYDAY

Everyday urbanism defined as a dialectic blend of top-down and bottom-up approaches

value within the community. For Warren this would necessitate collective decisionmaking to reinforce the strategic investment of money and resources where they are most relevant to the everyday life of the community. In the face of drastic economic changes these everyday places will drive the future direction of investment, growth and community consolidation. This new model empowers Warren to create an important role in the region for itself thereby illustrating the rebuilding process from crisis to projects through collective imagination, citizen stewardship, technological innovation, design agency and communicative action. Anirban Adhya is Assistant Professor of Urban Design at Lawrence Technological University in Michigan, USA.


WARREN SPECIAL REPORT FROM CR ISIS TO PROJECT

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Michigan has become the exciting ground zero of the new version of the American Dream. The American Dream 3.0 if you will, after 1.0 (refuge from European barbarism) and 2.0 (automobile suburbia as refuge from the evil city). Future Warren is a refuge from the complicated, polluted, vast areas of global urbanization crisscrossed by a population of exhausted zombies, an overworked, overheated hive of highly educated workers. Future Warren is a clear, orderly city with a balance of green and compact development organized in large, often old, container-like buildings (a typological residue from the previous industrial age), yet filled with new content. These

buildings, weatherized microcities, are connected with a uniform grid of generously sized roadways which are the test bed for the Personal Rapid Transit technologies developed in the area’s research centers after the bankruptcy and restart of General Motors as ‘Green Monuments’. Warren was able to make this transition into model 3.0 first because it was better equipped than most American cities. What were Warren’s great assets? What set Warren apart from other cities? First, its declining property values had finally reached the point where redevelopment made sense: where else could you find – for free – an excellent roadway network, existing monumental buildings and a natural reserve that had

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BY ALEX ANDER D’HOOGHE CAMBRIDGE, MA ­— Warren,

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... WARREN DECIDED TO DECLARE ITSELF A ‘FREE-ZONE’ (FREISTADT), A PETRI DISH FOR EXPERIMENTS IN ALTERNATIVE MODERNIZATION.

Visions of Warren ILLUSTRATION: AIDA MIRON

already begun to take back those unraveling edges of Warren with the lowest development density. Second, a new generation of citizens, younger, more diverse, and increasingly invested in the city decided to develop a more diverse economy. Third, the vast open spaces in the immediate vicinity of the region’s airports, maximized through

POWERHOUSEPROJECT.COM A DESIGN 99 PRODUC TION

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ORG OFFICE FOR PERMANENT MODERNITY, ANDREW CORRIGAN AND ALEXANDER D’HOOGHE

Landscape of the current Warren; Heritage Village, 2009 PHOTO: CORINE VERMEULEN-SMITH

of these can be found in the Dakotas (because they’re too thinly populated) or in New England (because it’s too dense and interconnected). Thus Warren’s willingness to experiment gave it the competitive edge. Engineers and researchers could simply walk out of the building and use their own city as the test-society. As a result people from all over the world came to visit Warren 3.0 and see its upgraded infrastructure grid, downtown warehouses, research facilities, art colonies and natural preserves: the dream 3.0. And the rest is history. Alexander D’Hooghe is Associate Professor of Architectural Urbanism at MIT. He is founder of ‘ORG - Office for Permanent Modernity’ located in Belgium and the USA.

SO AC T CI IV AL AT N N EQ I N G TO EC UI TY RE TIN SO G U BU RC S ES INE SS

Landscape and monuments of the New Warren

the Michigan ‘Aerotropolis’ initiative, allowed for the location of new green industries with big footprints and easy access to the global market. Fourth, Warren decided to declare itself a ‘free-zone’ (Freistadt), a petri dish for experiments in alternative modernization. For example, it holds a permanent Art Biennale, attracting artists from across the world to its suburban neighborhoods while simultaneously creating an experimental zone for imported concepts. This openness launched its current trajectory of rapid upward development. Finally, GM installed the first electric car refill grid in Warren, a project similar to Israeli Shai Agassi’s electric project. In addition, Segway and GM built the first Personal Rapid Transit system in Warren. Neither

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WARREN SPECIAL REPORT FROM CR ISIS TO PROJECT

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DEV ELOPING A WIN D FAR M ALO NG 8 MILE RD &CR EATI NG GRE ENH OUS ES

LEGI TIMI ZING SCRA PPING

BUIL D STRO NG COM MUN ITY PRIDE

E—S TILL S COU RTES Y

STAR TING A RADIO STAT ION OR POD CAST

VIDE

ENACTING ADA PTIV E REUS E/M ISUS E OF BUIL DING S

A WAR REN MOD EL HOM

REA LIZING LAN D TRUSTS

A GROUP OF LOCALS AND INTERNATIONAL VISITORS GATHERED FOR A RSVP EVENT* IN WARREN, MI (USA) TO FOCUS ON FINDING PRAGMATIC ANSWERS TO HOW TO MOVE FROM CRISIS TO PROJECT IN METROPOLITAN DETROIT—

WOR KSH OP HELD IN

DISA SSEM BLING HOM ES FOR REUS E OF MAT ERIA LS & COM PON ENT S

FEBRUARY 2009:

THE CLOS ING O DOC UME NTAT ION OF

RSVP RE SULTS WE ’RE TH INKING ABOUT:

AC TION WOR DS

RSVP PAR TNE RS

RETH INKI NG OWN ERSH IP

RSVP@ARCHIS.ORG *RSVP EVENTS ARE A SERIES OF INTERNATIONAL WORKSHOPS ORGANIZED IN RESPONSE TO AN URGENT CHALLENGE. THESE EVENTS ARE AIMED AT PROVIDING CITIES IN NEED WITH CLUES AND CONCEPTS TO REVIVE THE PUBLIC DOMAIN, TO RE-ENERGIZE ITS URBAN SPIRIT AND TO REVITALIZE ITS TRUST IN DIALOGUE AS THE ESSENCE OF CIVIC LIFE. WARREN JOINS FELLOW CITIES SUCH AS SHANGHAI, NAPLES, NEW YORK, BEIRUT AND BERLIN IN HOSTING THE RSVP SERIES.

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COL LECT ING HISTORIE S OF FOR ECLO SURE STOR IES


SUPPLEMENT TO VOLUME 20

R EDEFINING THE AMER ICAN DR EAM

FALLOW CITY AND FERAL DESIGN BY BERENIK A BOBERSK A LOS ANGELES, CA ­— Driving

through those repetitive fields of suburban homes and their cultivated dreams made me think of intensive farming, of monoculture. That’s what suburbia is: land used for the over-production of real-estate value. What if we allow certain fields in the city to ‘lie fallow’, releasing them from this single function. Leaving land fallow is an acceptable practice in agriculture, a method to rest and revitalize the land. How would this strategy look if applied to the city?

an area with the most foreclosures or a floodplain. Homeowners would receive incentives to exchange and improve property lying just outside fallow zones. Vacant homes within fallow zones would be bought by the city and dismantled. The task would be to concentrate both empty and inhabited domiciles

Letting land go fallow is not the same as letting it grow wild. Instead it’s more the equivalent to allowing other ‘feral’ forms of design and design practice to take over for a while. In fallow fields weeds and unpredictable practices can temporarily flourish before giving way as the suburb’s growth renews. It’s the opposite of doing nothing. The first task would be to clearly demarcate the fallow zones. These don’t have to follow a grid pattern, but can be more like distinct islands within it - encompassing

constitute a think-tank, design laboratory and a sort of area headquarters all in one. The fabrication workshop would be a newly built industrial shed-type building, large enough to work on structures the size of a typical pre-fab house. It would be a place to invent new building materials and structures. The fallow

THE PHYSICAL EFFECT OF AN ELEVATED VIEWPOINT IS EMPOWERING, ALLOWING ONE TO BE ABLE TO SURVEY THE CITY FROM ABOVE AND ONE’S PLACE IN IT. THIS IS WHAT HAS BEEN MISSING IN SUBURBIA ALL ALONG: AN INTERRUPTION. at their respective boundaries. Next, each fallow zone would include a Design Studio and a Fabrication Workshop. These would

Sketch of haystacks and vertical wind farms in autumn fields ILLUSTRATION: BERENIKA BOBERSKA

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zone would become a testing ground for these experiments. Failure is allowed. The workshop would need to be equipped with the latest fabrication technology and tools for this low- and hightech combination to work. Each workshop could take advantage of local technical knowledge with a paid fellowship for a ‘resident engineer’, someone laid off from the auto industry, perhaps! Feral - as in run away or escaped from the suburban house - means returning to an untamed state. Feral Design could mean recycling building components in new, creative and public ways. A few ideas already come to mind. Timber frame roofs could be used in their entirety as formwork for casting new elements. The morphology of roof shapes is very strong and can be used to assemble larger public landscapes, surfaces and even earthworks. Flipped upside down they become vessels for wetlands, meadows, elevated gardens or ponds for Canadian


WARREN SPECIAL REPORT FROM CR ISIS TO PROJECT

RETURN TO AN UNTAMED STATE FAILURE IS ALLOWED

geese. Some houses are almost like mobile building blocks; they can be cut, combined and stacked. Surface materials can be stripped and changed. Fallow zones could be public islands within private suburbia, feral architecture scattered in public orchards, meadows, forests, wetlands, open air cinemas and auditoriums, a collection of houses raised on stilts above the trees and turned into aerial libraries or reading rooms. The fallow zones would gradually become autonomous. There would be enough freedup surface area for solar or wind energy collectors to meet the needs of a much lower density. A strong singular intervention, such as a tall structure – not a cluster of towers or a linear downtown – instinctively makes a necessary counterpoint to the fallow field..Like tall haystacks loosely interspaced in autumn fields, they would be essentially public structures, tall point-towers with viewing

DIY RECIPES {RECIPE FOR A WILDFLOWER HOUSE} STRIP THE WALLS AND ROOFS OF OUTER SURFACE MATERIAL DOWN TO THE TIMBER FR AME AND STUDS. THEN FILL THE HOUSE WITH THE DEBRIS AND PACK E ARTH MIXED WITH SEEDS IN-BE T WEEN THE TIMBERS {RECIPE FOR WILD MUSHROOM HOUSE} SIMIL AR TO A WILDFLOWER HOUSE, ONLY WITH MUSHROOM SPORES. ( FARM L AB OF LOS ANGELES HAS A SELEC TION OF MUSHROOM SPORES PARTICUL ARLY FOND OF BUILDING MATERIALS.) THIS COULD ALSO BE A KIND OF ‘SOF T DEMOLITION.’ {RECIPE FOR A FABRIC HOUSE} STRIP A HOUSE DOWN TO ITS STRUC TURE AND CRE ATE A FULL-SIZE FABRIC GLOVE FOR IT. THE FABRIC CAN BE SCREEN PRINTED, COMBINING A PAT TERN OF PRINTED SOL AR CELLS WITH GR APHIC S. THIS COULD BE A PROTOT YPE FOR A ‘SOL AR HOUSE COZ Y’ – SOME THING TO BE USED WIDELY.

FINANCING

THE PROJEC T’S INITIAL FINANCIAL BURDEN ( BUYING PROPERT Y ) WOULD FALL ON THE CIT Y AND GOVERNMENT STIMULUS FUNDING. THIS REL ATIONSHIP WOULD E VENTUALLY SWITCH AROUND, HOWE VER, AS THE ENERGY HARVESTING PROJEC TS DE VELOPED IN THE FREED UP ARE AS WOULD FEED BACK INTO THE CIT Y’S SYSTEMS. THE BOUNDARY BE T WEEN FALLOW ZONES AND THE CIT Y WOULD BE THE MOST FECUND. THESE WOULD BE PUBLIC SPACES FOR THE TR ADE AND E XCHANGE OF PRODUC TS, IDE AS AND PROTOT YPES. FUNDS COULD INITIALLY BE REDIREC TED FROM WELFARE PROGR AMS TO CRE ATE EMPLOYMENT DISMANTLING HOUSES. PAID FELLOWSHIPS AT THE DESIGN STUDIO WORKSHOPS AND FOR THE PROTOT YPICAL DESIGN PROJEC TS COULD BE FUNDED BY CORPOR ATE SPONSORSHIP, NOT PER PROJEC T, WHICH WOULD LIMIT THE RESE ARCH, BUT PER FALLOW ZONE. PERHAPS E ACH FALLOW ARE A COULD DE VELOP GENER AL RESE ARCH THEMES. THE SPONSORS WOULD HAVE ACCESS TO THE WORK, WITH AN E YE TO TAKING THE DESIGNS TO A WIDER MARKE T, I.E., TO OTHER CITIES. THE FALLOW ZONES WOULD FUNC TION LIKE L ABOR ATORIES. AS A STR ATEGY THIS STORY DEFINITELY HAS AN ENDING. FALLOW CIT Y WOULD ONLY E XIST FOR A SE ASON OR T WO – ON AN ECONOMIC/URBAN TIMESCALE. THE CIT Y WOULD E VENTUALLY E XPAND AG AIN ABSORBING THE NE W E XPERIMENTAL PR AC TICES, WHICH BY THEN WOULD HAVE HAD A CHANCE TO ESTABLISH THEMSELVES, LIKE PIONEERS IN SUBURBIA.

WARREN WELCOMES NAME : John Pugh AGE : 30 HOMETOWN : Herndon, VA SPECIALIZATION : Architecture and urbanism RESEARCH INTEREST: Urban core typologies WHY WARREN : Warren represents an advanced version of the typical inner ring suburb. Through the introduction of the mega-form type, which serves as a platform for growth, a new identity for the city will be generated.

PLATFORM FOR A PERMANENT MODERNITY As an outcome of the RSVP goal to perpetuate an ongoing exchange between local stakeholders and the international design and architecture community, Warren welcomes the Platform for Permanent Modernity and their researchers! The Platform for a Permanent Modernity, a research group at MIT, studies architectural urbanism. It investigates the intersection of formal design, intellectual reflection and a political theory of action. The platform is directed by Alexander D’Hooghe.

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platforms. The physical effect of an elevated viewpoint is empowering, allowing one to be able to survey the city from above and one’s place in it. This is what has been missing in suburbia all along: an interruption. The structures could be vertical parks, tall slender mountain-like forms with engineered surfaces packed with wildflowers. Or they could be lighter structures like vertical aviaries for migrating birds. Or they could be high-tech structures clad with fabrics printed with patterns composed of colorful solar cells. These would be vertical wind farms with sculptured surfaces made from tiny plastic turbines that work just as well as one huge one. It would be a place where one can stay right at the top, have a picnic and connect visually with other structures in other fallow zones of the city a place for encounters. Berenika Boberska is a Polish-British architect and installation artist currently based in Los Angeles.

LO OK IN G FO TH E PO TE NT IA RW AR D TO OF TH IS NE W L OU TC OM ES AN D EX PA RT NE RS HI P!CI TI NG

NAME : Marissa Cheng AGE : 26 HOMETOWN : Carlisle, MA SPECIALIZATION : Architecture and urbanism RESEARCH INTEREST: Urban public infrastructure WHY WARREN : The consequences of the decline of the automobile industry can be read in Warren’s industrial landscape. A new industrial typology can revive Warren’s economy and provide infrastructure for new civic programs.


SUPPLEMENT TO VOLUME 20

R EDEFINING THE AMER ICAN DR EAM

ARCHIVES: PROJECTING TOMORROW’S VOICES TODAY

COLOPHON

On left: A scenario re-working the idea of an assembly line for the future of design, architecture and culture in Detroit, from the fictitious book Agents of Change. POSTER DESIGN: NINA BIANCHI AND LIISA SALONEN, PRODUCED BY AIGA DETROIT

On right: ‘Heartland Machine’ — a roving, kinetic, collecting bricolage slated to travel through the Midwest Heartland in the summer of 2009. POSTER DESIGN: NINA BIANCHI AND DESIGN 99, A PROJECT OF DESIGN 99

*HEADLINE SOURCES (FRONT AND BACK COVERS) 1. “The foreclosure factory: Metro Detroit is a nation center of the crisis. Special Report.”The Detroit News. 15 May 2009. <www.detnews.com> / 2. Brand-Williams, Oralandar. “(Rev. Jesse) Jackson: ‘It’s not the Big Three. It’s 4 million jobs.’” The Detroit News 4 December 2008. <www.detnews.com> / 3. French, Ron and Mike Wilkinson. “Leaving Michigan Behind: Eight-year population exodus staggers state outflow of skilled, educated workers crimps Michigan’s recovery.” The Detroit News 2 April 2009. <www.detnews.com> / 4. “Auto collapse would ripple across country.” The Detroit News 19 November 2008. <www.detnews.com> / 5. Jun, Catherine. “Metro area home values sink: Foreclosure glut fuels double-digit drops in Macomb, Oakland.” The Detroit News. 21 November 2008. <www.detnews.com> / 6. “Foreclosures up by 81% in U.S.” Detroit Free Press 15 January 2009. <www.detnews.com> / 7. Louwers, Brian C. “Gathering aims to look forward, away from housing crisis.” Warren Weekly 25 February 2009. <www.candgnews.com> / 8. Guerra, Jennifer. “In Detroit, Artists Look For Renewal In Foreclosures.” All Things Considered. NPR. 18 March 2009. <http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=102053853> / 9. “A model for others?” Detroit Free Press 3 May 2009. <www.freep.com> / 10. Rogers, Christina. “Wind turbines generate Michigan job hopes.” The Detroit News 7 May 2009. <www.detnews.com> / 11. “Motor city journal: Farming takes root in Detroit.” Detroit Free Press 4 May 2009. <www.freep.com> / 12. “What can Flint’s near-death experience teach other cities?” Detroit Free Press 3 May 2009. <www.freep.com> / 13. “Green acres in Detroit? Why not, mayor asks.” Detroit Free Press 15 April 2009. <www.freep.> / 14. Zemke, John. “Think local, act regional.” Metromode 30 August 2007. <http:// www.metromodemedia.com/features/Regionalism0033.aspx>

WARREN SPECIAL IS A SUPPLEMENT TO VOLUME MAGAZINE 20 EDITORIAL TEAM : Toni Moceri, Christian Ernsten, Arjen Oosterman DESIGN : Nina Bianchi PHOTOGR APHERS : Corine Vermeulen-Smith, Arjen Oosterman and Gina Reichert ILLUSTR ATIONS / GR APHIC IMAGES : Nina Bianchi, Aida Miron, Taylor Shepherd and Berenika Boberska SPECIAL THANKS TO : Ole Bouman (NAI), Lucia Tozzi (Abitare), Gina Cavalier (City of Warren), Rose Furlong (City of Warren), Henry Bowman (City of Warren), Jeff Schroeder (Macomb County), John Crumm (Macomb County), Philip Plowright (Lawrence Tech), Constance Bodurow (Lawrence Tech), James Stevens (Lawrence Tech), Calvin Creech (Lawrence Tech), Jordan Martin (Lawrence Tech), City of Warren, Abitare, Netherlands Architecture Institute, the College of Architecture and Design at Lawrence Tech, Macomb County Planning and Economic Development, Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA), City of Warren TIFA, Winnick Homes, Design 99, Kuhnhenn Brewery, Michigan State Representative Lesia Liss, Michigan State Representative Jon Switalski, Corine Vermeulen-Smith, Brent Moceri and everyone who participated in the Warren RSVP. Volume is published by the Archis Foundation, The Netherlands, and Printed by Die Keure, Belgium. VISI ★ TO GET INVOLVED IN WARREN

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T WW W.CITYOFWARREN.ORG


LU SU M PP E LE 20 M — EN 20 T T 09 O JU LY VO

IN DETROIT, ARTISTS LOOK FOR RENEWAL IN FORECLOSURES 8

A MODEL FOR OTHERS?

9

PROJECT GATHERING AIMS TO LOOK FORWARD, AWAY FROM HOUSING CRISIS

7

WIND TURBINES GENERATE MICHIGAN JOB HOPES 10

FARMING TAKES ROOT IN DETROIT WHAT CAN FLINT’S NEAR-DEATH EXPERIENCE TEACH OTHER CITIES?

GREEN ACRES IN DETROIT? ... 13

THINK LOCAL, ACT REGIONAL

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Warren Special Report - From Crisis to Project  

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