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TechTown

April 2013

Igniting Innovation in Detroit

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Contents 1.0 Introduction 2.0 Site Analysis 3.0 Long-term Vision 4.0 TechTown Core 5.0 Process


1.0 


Introduction 


Introduction

Downtown Detroit Creative and Tech Detroit Creative Corridor Medical and Educational Anchors Creative Production Anchors Creative and Tech Firm Locations Advanced Manufacturing Anchors Hubs of Entrepreneurial Activity and Influence

C O N TE XT

GOALS

TechTown, an emerging knowledge district anchored by three key institutions in Midtown Detroit — Wayne State University (WSU), the College for Creative Studies (CCS), and the Henry Ford Health System (HFHS) — is leading the city’s transition from an automobile-based to an innovation-based economy. Over the past several months, Midtown Detroit Inc. (MDI), along with its institutional partners, has facilitated a district planning process that leverages the unique strengths of each institution, while creating new opportunities for collaboration and investment.

The goals of the TechTown District Plan directly respond to key challenges of the site. The plan aims to create a vibrant and livable neighborhood that is safe and supports activity 24/7. Today, there is a shortage of housing and retail services, and public space is limited. Poorly defined street edges, large surface parking lots, blank walls, isolated uses, lack of ground floor transparency, and inconsistent lighting across the district discourage people from wanting to be in the outdoor spaces. The creation of a vibrant neighborhood requires a combination of civic spaces and infrastructure, diverse housing options, and a variety of services and amenities. The plan integrates these elements within a comprehensive public realm strategy. Another goal of the TechTown District Plan is to encourage experimentation and make visible the production of ideas. Experimentation is critical to the formation of new ideas and businesses. While innovations occur daily in TechTown, experimental infrastructure such as co-working spaces, incubators, fabrication labs (FabLabs), hacker labs, and test


Henry Ford Hospital

kitchens are limited to specialized institutions and are not accessible to a broader audience. The plan for TechTown situates these spaces in central, highly visible and accessible locations that span both indoor and outdoor environments, encouraging inquiry while activating the public realm in a thoughtprovoking and participatory manner. The TechTown District Plan aims to facilitate collaboration. While new ideas are often the product of collaboration and spontaneous conversations, institutions in TechTown largely operate as internalized silos that rarely engage the public realm or nearby organizations. The shift toward a new innovation economy requires places for collaboration, including landing spots for planned and serendipitous meetings, ad hoc gathering spaces, and flexible and temporary spaces. The TechTown District Plan brings these elements together within a central plaza while providing inviting adjacent uses. Collaboration occurs in the public realm as much as in the plaza’s surrounding buildings.

New Center

Russell Industrial Center

TechTown

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Art Center Wayne State University

Medical Center

Midtown Detroit

Woodward Ave

A key goal of the plan is to create a defined heart for the district. The decentralized patterns of investment and the prevalence of surface parking characteristic of Detroit also typify TechTown. Through a robust open space framework and urban design strategy, the plan transforms places for cars into places for people, while creating a clearly defined heart and visual identity for the district.

Eastern Market

Downtown Detroit

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Harnessing Institutional Anchors

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LAND OWNERSHIP STRUCTURE Wayne State University Henry Ford Health System College for Creative Studies

While TechTown is centered among the three anchor institutions, they have yet to leverage the potential for collaboration within the district. Each anchor institution had previously prepared individual development plans, but they did not consider their significant property holdings in the district. The planning process provided a common venue for institutions to consider their plans within the broader district context. The result is a unified plan that supports the unique needs of each institution, while leveraging opportunities for shared amenities, concentrating activity, and creating a distinct district identity. The district plan supports the institutions’ collective desire for collaboration, experimentation, and hands-on applied learning, situated within a safe, active, and vibrant neighborhood. 

THREE ANCHOR INSTITUTIONS


Investing within

Investing within

M INI M AL INVE S T M ENT

Investing within

INTERNAL INSTITUTIONAL FOCUS TODAY

CCS MAIN Campus

COLLABORATIVE POTENTIAL


Defining an Innovation District The new economy requires new modes of learning, researching, working, and generating ideas that cut across disciplines and facilitate the transfer of ideas from the lab to the marketplace. While conventional mixed-use districts create good living and working environments, they primarily focus on consumption patterns. Innovation districts, on the other hand, focus on production — the production of goods, the production of jobs, and the production of ideas.

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Innovation Program Innovation districts rely upon a mix of complementary uses, such as fabrication labs (FabLabs) and production spaces, co-working spaces, incubators, housing and dining, and support services, along with a robust public realm. Collectively, they contribute to the success and vitality of the district.

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Proposed Vision The district plan for TechTown articulates a long-term vision with near-term catalytic projects that foster economic development and support new ways of living, working, and learning. The long-term vision positions TechTown as the hub of innovation in Detroit, while near-term investments transform the core plaza into a heart for the district. A renewed public realm ties together ideas-based industries within a vibrant urban neighborhood.

long-term vision

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2.0 Image Courtesy: Hamilton Anderson Associates 


Site Analysis 


TechTown Today

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Site Challenges The character of TechTown itself is unique, featuring buildings that played an important role in the automotive innovations of an earlier era. Today, the district fosters new modes of innovation, from alternative energy to healthcare to creative industries, maintaining its legacy as a birthplace for ideas. TechTown is a well-established district within Midtown Detroit, but is currently underutilized and characterized by surface parking and vacant properties. The dominant impression of the district is unfortunately common to Detroit — distributed pockets of productivity amidst a landscape of decay. The lack of a defined public realm combined with minimal public space and excess surface parking lots has created an internalized culture where people seldom leave their buildings. Poor connections and lack of adequate lighting also create unsafe perceptions of the streets and discourage walking. The district has minimal dining and socializing venues, causing people to drive outside the district or remain confined to cafeterias within their buildings. Housing options are inadequate and limited despite strong demand, which results in the district emptying out at night. Amenities to support a culture of innovation are also lacking.

DISTRICT AREA

PUBLIC SPACE

SURFACE PARKING

DEVELOPABLE AREA

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27 pe r ce n t of the site is domi n ated b y Sur face Pa r k in g lots with chai n lin k fe nces that discou r age walk i n g . 


Overwhelming Parking Lots

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Lack of a Heart

T he dist r ict cu r r e n tly lac k s a str o n g center or hea r t whe re people can come togethe r an d colla bo rate . 


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Lack of Amenities

few ame n ities suppo r t the dist r ict. e xisting Amen ities a re la r g ely i n ternal . 


Undefined Public Realm

S t r eets a r e fo r e b odi ng a n d discou r ag e walk i n g . no defi ned pub lic space ex ists W ithi n the 1 4 9 acr es . 


Blank Street Walls

Bla nk Buildi n g walls defi n e ma n y streetscapes a n d discou r age st r eet acti vity. 


Lack of Housing

housi n g i n the dist r ict is limited despite str ong dema nd. 


Empty Buildings

M a n y of the dist r ict ’ s histo r ic b uildi n g s a r e cur re ntly u n de rutili z ed. 


Unsafe Perception

P oo r ly main tai n ed unde rpasses a nd i n con siste n t li g hti n g co nt ri bute to u nsafe per ceptio n s of the distr ict. 


3.0 


Long-term Vision 


Framework Principles Driving the plan are several planning and design principles that address site challenges and support aspirational goals for the district.

Create a Heart for the District Create a new destination at the heart of the district that brings people out of their buildings and into the public realm.

Support a Walkable Environment Transform the built environment from places for cars to places for people.

Activate the Public Realm Enliven the district through active ground floor uses, inviting civic spaces, and a connected public realm.

Create Collaborative Collisions Promote creative collisions and serendipitous interactions. 


Experiment! Position TechTown as a canvas for experimentation and innovation, both indoors and outdoors.

Promote 24/7 Activity Introduce varied programs that encourage diverse activities 24/7.

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Framework Structure The overall vision for TechTown relies on both the public realm and programmatic frameworks that define key corridors and connect anchor institutions. The programmatic framework reinforces the unique identities and functions of each corridor including medical, creative, neighborhood, learning, and recreation corridors. Public realm improvements reinforce connections among the institutional anchors and beyond. Surface parking lots and underutilized sites are used more productively as land is developed with an expanded range of uses that contribute to the vitality of the district. The core plaza is a central feature of the plan, and is the focus of early investment. A community park and two additional plazas connected along landscaped corridors provide amenities for each of the anchor institutions. This robust open space framework and urban design strategy transform parking lots and vacant sites into places for people.

PUBLIC REALM FRAMEWORK

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Program Corridors

PROGRAMMATIC FRAMEWORK 


Overall District Framework EXISTING INSTITUTIONAL ANCHORS 1 2 3 4

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Henry Ford Health System (HFHS) College for Creative Studies (CCS) University Prep Academy WSU Medical Biological Research Building (MBRB)

OTHER PROGRAMS 5 NextEnergy 6 Detroit Children’s Museum 7 Criminal Justice Building (Incubator) 8 Tech One (Incubator) 9 Wayne State University Police 10 Fisher Building 11 New Center Park

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PROPOSED INTERVENTIONS

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TECHTOWN TODAY

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12 Core Plaza 13 Community Park 14 CCS Plaza 15 North Plaza 16 Viaduct Improvements 17 Residential Buildings (Live/Work) 18 Co-working Space 19 Mixed-use Infill (Live/Work, Galleries) 20 Rapid Prototyping Facility 21 Small Batch Manufacturing Facility T Light Rail Transit Stop


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WSU 


Central Corridor

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EXISTING INSTITUTIONAL ANCHORS 1 Henry Ford Health System (HFHS) 2 University Prep Academy 3 WSU Medical Biological Research Building (MBRB)

OTHER PROGRAMS 4 5 6 7 8

NextEnergy Detroit Children’s Museum Criminal Justice Building (Incubator) Tech One (Incubator) Wayne State University Police

PROPOSED INTERVENTIONS 9 Core Plaza 10 Community Park 11 Residential Buildings (Live/Work) 12 Industrial Kitchen 13 Small Batch Manufacturing Facility 14 Launch Pad 15 Medical Research Facility T Light Rail Transit Stop

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Central Corridor The Central Corridor forms the heart of the district and is concentrated around Burroughs Street from the proposed light rail station to the east to the proposed community park in the west. The intersection of Cass Avenue and Burroughs Street forms the core plaza and a new heart for TechTown. This corridor links existing research entities and incubators (NextEnergy, Tech One) with new uses at the core of the district.

A new fabrication lab (FabLab) and small batch manufacturing facility provide new spaces for prototyping ideas and tie the innovation process to the larger legacy of innovation and production in Detroit. Burroughs also connects these programs to the future light rail stop on Woodward Avenue and creates a new front door to TechTown.

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EXISTING INSTITUTIONAL ANCHORS 1 Henry Ford Health System (HFHS) 2 University Prep Academy 3 WSU Medical Biological Research Building (MBRB)

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NextEnergy Detroit Children’s Museum Criminal Justice Building (Incubator) Tech One (Incubator) Wayne State University Police Lofts

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OTHER PROGRAMS 4 5 6 7 8 9

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10 Community Park 11 Residential Buildings (Live/Work) 12 Core Plaza 13 Small Batch Manufacturing Facility 14 FabLab 15 Medical Research Facility 16 Launch Pad T Light Rail Transit Stop

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AVENUE WOODWARD

PROPOSED INTERVENTIONS


Neighborhood Spine The Neighborhood Spine is organized around Cass Avenue. Cass Avenue connects Wayne State University to the south with the College for Creative Studies to the north, and intersects the core plaza at Burroughs Street. Cass Avenue becomes the primary neighborhood street structured around innovative live/work residential typologies with co-work spaces, cafes, and pubs that activate the street, bring residential populations into the district, and create a vibrant mixed-use corridor.

The height of buildings along Cass Avenue is restricted to six floors, and the reworked street accomodates bike lanes, lighting, and street trees with surface parking distanced from street edges to create a pedestrian-friendly environment.

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EXISTING INSTITUTIONAL ANCHORS 1 University Prep Academy 2 WSU Medical Biological Research Building (MBRB) 3 College for Creative Studies (CCS) 4 5 6 7 8 9

St. Regis Hotel Criminal Justice Building (Incubator) Tech One (Incubator) Wayne State University Police Lofts Cadillac Building

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PROPOSED INTERVENTIONS 10 Residential Buildings (Live/Work) 11 Core Plaza 12 Parking Garage 13 FabLab 14 CCS Expansion 15 CCS Plaza T Light Rail Transit Stop

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AVENUE WOODWARD

OTHER PROGRAMS

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Recreation Corridor Second Avenue forms a Recreation Corridor that connects New Center to the north with WSU’s pedestrian mall to the south. The wide median is transformed into a bio-swale and productive landscape that captures and filters water from surrounding buildings. The sidewalks are planted with a consistent row of street trees to form a boulevard. An allay of trees creates a linear park in front of the HFHS building, while a new community

park with flexible fields, exercise stations, and basketball courts provides a much needed recreation space. A one-mile walking circuit and well-defined bike lanes provide additional opportunities for exercise and promote a healthy lifestyle.

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EXISTING INSTITUTIONAL ANCHORS

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OTHER PROGRAMS 4 NextEnergy 5 Detroit Children’s Museum 6 Fitness Works Gym 7 Cadillac Building 8 Fisher Building 9 Lofts 10 WSU Music Building 11 Motel 12 Utilities

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2ND AVENUE

13 Community Park 14 Industrial Kitchens 15 Studios/Lofts 16 Launch Pad 17 Residential Infill 18 Medical Research Facility T Light Rail Transit Stop

AVENUE WOODWARD

1 Henry Ford Health System (HFHS) 2 University Prep Academy 3 College for Creative Studies (CCS)


Medical Corridor The Medical Corridor is organized around 3rd Street and connects research, administration, and health programs at the various HFHS locations. Surface parking lots are infilled over time with research, small batch manufacturing facilities, and a rapid prototyping lab that allows new ideas to be tested and produced in small quantities. Parking needs are met by garages strategically located away from the street edge while still remaining within a five-minute walk of destinations. Street trees

are introduced along 3rd Street to define the edge and create an intuitive connection to West Grand Boulevard. Infill housing and mixed-use development are proposed in the blocks north of the railroad and along West Grand Boulevard. The Medical Corridor extends to the HFHS campus to the west along West Grand Boulevard.

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EXISTING INSTITUTIONAL ANCHORS 1 Henry Ford Health System (HFHS) 2 University Prep Academy

PROPOSED INTERVENTIONS 6 Studios/Lofts 7 Rapid Prototyping Lab 8 Small Batch Manufacturing Facility 9 Medical Research Facility 10 Mixed-use Housing 11 Plaza 12 Community Park 13 Parking Garage

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AVENUE WOODWARD

3 NBC Building (U-Haul/Studios) 4 Parking Garage 5 Commercial Space

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3RD STREET

OTHER PROGRAMS

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Creative Corridor The College for Creative Studies anchors the Creative Corridor, which is located along Milwaukee and Baltimore Streets. A new public plaza west of the existing CCS building forms a secondary heart for the district and connects to investments along Cass Avenue. This plaza provides space for externalizing design explorations that take place within CCS. A future building for CCS flanks the east edge of the plaza and provides a strong visual presence along Woodward Avenue. This expansion houses

street-level galleries and cafes with studio spaces and housing integrated with a parking garage. Abandoned lots and buildings to the west of CCS are infilled and repurposed as studio spaces and and artist lofts. These uses integrate with cafes and retail, and result in a unique mixed-use character distinct from other parts of the district. The former NBC building is adaptively repurposed as a U-Haul facility with studio spaces.

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EXISTING INSTITUTIONAL ANCHORS 1 College for Creative Studies (CCS)

OTHER PROGRAMS 2 3 4 5

NBC Building (U-Haul/Studios) Northern Lights Lounge Commercial Space Retail Complex

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6 CCS Plaza 7 CCS Expansion 8 Rapid Prototyping Lab 9 Studios/Lofts 10 Medical Research Facility 11 Parking Garage A Amtrak Stop T Light Rail Transit Stop

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AVENUE WOODWARD

PROPOSED INTERVENTIONS


Woodward Transitions Woodward Avenue links TechTown with the broader region and downtown Detroit. An approved future light rail transit corridor introduces two new transit stops within the district. The stops are located at the intersections of Burroughs Street to the south and Baltimore Street to the north, which form new front doors to the district. The Burroughs Street stop was originally sited along Amsterdam Street. It is recommended that the transit stop relocate one block south to better integrate with the plan.

Higher density mixed-use development surrounds the stops and includes active street uses, live/work residential typologies, research programs, and structured parking. The plan enhances and leverages the existing Amtrak stop to create an integrated park and ride garage along Woodward Avenue, with residential and co-work buildings along Cass Avenue. Streetscape enhancements and lighting transform Woodward Avenue into a critical connector between TechTown, Detroit, and the region.

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1 WSU Medical Biological Research Building (MBRB) 2 College for Creative Studies (CCS)

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OTHER PROGRAMS 3 4 5 6 7 8

Retail Complex Criminal Justice Building (Incubator) Tech One (Incubator) Wayne State University Police Lofts Cadillac Building

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Residential Buildings (Live/Work) Core Plaza Parking Garage FabLab CCS Expansion Research Facility Mixed-Use Area Amtrak Stop Light Rail Transit Stop

AVENUE WOODWARD

PROPOSED INTERVENTIONS

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Creative Corridor

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1 Henry Ford Health System (HFHS) 2 College for Creative Studies (CCS)

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OTHER PROGRAMS 3 4 5 6 7 8

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3RD STREET

EXISTING INSTITUTIONAL ANCHORS

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Fisher Building New Center Park Cadillac Building St. Regis Hotel Fitnessworks Gym NBC Building (U-Haul/Studios)

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PROPOSED INTERVENTIONS 9 CCS Plaza 10 North Plaza 11 Viaduct Improvements 12 Residential Buildings (Live/Work) 13 Medical Research Facility 14 Studios/Lofts 15 Rapid Prototyping Facility 16 Mixed-Use Area 17 CCS Expansion T Light Rail Transit Stop 

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Parking Strategy

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PROPOSED SHARED PARKING STRATEGY

Surface Parking

Proposed Parking Garage

Parking Garage

Existing Parking Garage

Anchor institutions have extensive surface parking lots and access to few parking garages. In the absence of a coordinated parking management strategy these garages often remain underutilized, while the scale and size of the surface lots create an unfriendly environment that discourages walking and perpetuates the perception of an unsafe public realm.

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A shared parking strategy is essential to maximize efficiencies of existing parking garages and to manage the parking needs of the multiple institutions within the district. Parking garages are strategically located to meet demand and are located within a five-minute walk of destinations. Surface parking is relocated to the interior of the block, enabling alternate uses to locate along the street and activate the public realm.


Mobility

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INSTITUTIONAL SHUTTLE NETWORK AND TRANSIT College for Creative Studies Henry Ford Health System

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INTEGRATED CIRCUIT AND BIKE NETWORK TechTown Circuit Bike Network

Wayne State University Amtrak M1 Light Rail

Proposed parking garages align with existing shuttle routes operated by anchor institutions. New transit stations along Woodward Avenue at Burroughs and Baltimore Streets and enhancements to the existing Amtrak station along Amsterdam Street encourage alternative means of transportation.

The goal of the proposed bike network is to reduce shortterm vehicular travel. New bike lanes are introduced along Cass Avenue, West Grand Boulevard, Milwaukee Street, and Burroughs Street and integrate with enhanced routes along Second Avenue. The network connects to future transit stations at Burroughs and Baltimore Streets, and should be coordinated with the shared bike program between WSU and CCS. Proposed garages include bike showers and repair shops on ground floors, with bike racks distributed around the district. 


Transforming TechTown A district currently defined by surface parking lots and a lack of identity will transform into a dense, well-balanced urban setting, with a clearly defined heart and strong sense of place.

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Sustainability

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2nd Avenue Reimagined A reimagined Second Avenue serves as an exercise and recreational corridor with a linear park along the Henry Ford Health System (HFHS) building that connects to the larger community park and playfields. The central median transforms into a bio-swale and a productive landscape.

SECOND AVENUE TODAY

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TechTown Circuit The TechTown Circuit functions as both an exercise circuit and an innovation circuit that celebrates innovations of the past, present, and future. The circuit is both a physical onemile walking loop and a proposed digital application unique to the district.

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Current Hot Spot

Future Hot Spot History of Innovation

Exercise Loop

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An Integrated Vision for TechTown The long-term vision and near-term investments position TechTown as the hub of innovation in Detroit. Repurposed buildings, new development, and a renewed public realm tie together ideas-based industries within a vibrant urban district. The core plaza catalyzes new investment in TechTown and serves as the iconic heart of the district. Every aspect of the plan reinforces experimentation, innovation, and knowledge creation. A district that once lacked institutional investment is now defined by the success of their collaborations.

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4.0 


TechTown Core 


The Core: Framework

Experimentation and hands-on learning are encouraged with a fabrication lab (FabLab) and fabrication tables (FabTabs) that anchor the southern side of the plaza and bring learning and product development outdoors. Elements such as a projection screen, a climbing wall, campfires, and a café with seating amidst an informal grove of trees, are all designed to attract knowledge and creativity to the heart of the district. These amenities complement a nearby flexible space programmable according to time of year and community needs.

alley connection

exercise station

Strategic street closures and the transformation of existing surface parking lots create a defined heart for the district. A dense grove of trees and linear bench function to direct individuals from the proposed light rail stop into the plaza. Colored pavers improve wayfinding and create a branded identity for the district.

COMMUNITY PARK

Initial investments link the proposed light rail stop to the east with a new community park to the west, along the core plaza. The core plaza is the central feature of the plan and is instrumental in catalyzing new investment in the district. Engaging civic spaces and a carefully curated public realm program encourages participation, creation, and collaboration.

children's museum

utilities

fire

medical corridor connector

Burroughs Street transforms into a pedestrian street that accommodates food trucks and year-round activity and provides an essential link to the community park and exercise station west of Second Avenue.

nextenergy

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2nd avenue

linear park

entry carpet


university prep mbrb

school gym

one vehicular z

tech one

screen

cafe

THE GROVE

grove

PEDESTRIANIZED STREET

burroughs street

AZA LINEAR PL

demonstration

CORE PLAZA

woodward cass avenue

alley connection

fablab

criminal justice building

lofts

avenue

wsu police

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The Core: Vision

Westcott Displays

University Prep

Children's Museum

Utilities 7

Tech One 8

Burroughs Street

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2nd Avenue

1 Proposed Light Rail Stop 2 The Grove 3 Seat Wall and Shade Structures 4 Circuit Cafe 5 Think Tank and Brainstorming Grove 6 Climbing Wall 7 Media Screen 8 Multipurpose Space 9 Shade Circuit 10 Pedestrian Priority Street 11 Food Trucks 12 Terrace Lounge 13 Fabrication Tables (FabTabs) 14 Collaboration Space 15 NextEnergy Testing Site 16 Residential Buildings (Live/Work) 17 Community Park and Exercise Station 18 Exercise Circuit and Bioswale

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e Woodward Avenu

FabLab

Cass Avenue

Lofts

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The Core: Plaza

Climbing Wall

Screen

Flex Space

Food Trucks

Short Circuit Cafe

Brainstorming Grove

Grove

Linear Plaza Burroughs Street

Collaboration Space

FabTabs

Alley Connection

Cass Avenue

WSU Police

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FabLab Lounge


Collaboration Cubes Collaboration cubes, moveable and adaptable work stations, occupy the plaza and can be reconfigured and relocated to meet specific user needs. The cubes create an icon for the district and support a range of active uses from spontaneous brainstorming sessions to planned social activities.

MOVEABLE SPACE

BRAINSTORMING SESSION

COLLABORATION

DEMONSTRATION

GAMES

LOUNGE 


Front Door A new entry plaza by the Multidisciplinary Biomedical Research Building (MBRB) and a dense grove of trees create an inviting entry space that connects the Woodward Avenue light rail stop to the core plaza. A screening element on the Tech One building serves as a visual anchor and icon for the district.

ENTRY FROM WOODWARD AVENUE TODAY

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Cass Avenue Reimagined Cass Avenue forms the neighborhood spine for the district, connecting Wayne State University and the College for Creative Studies. The intersection of Cass Avenue and Burroughs Street transforms into the core plaza that functions as a new heart for the district. Surface parking lots along Cass Avenue are infilled with innovative live/work typologies, co-working spaces, pubs, and cafes that activate the street level.

CASS AVENUE TODAY

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Fall: Makers' Fair The core plaza’s design is flexible and supports year-round activity. Makers’ Fair and Innovation Challenge in the fall activate the core plaza and encourage collaboration and entrepreneurial activity in the heart of the district.

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Winter: Campfires In the winter, the plaza accommodates a light installation and temporary curling lane in the multipurpose space. Gas fireplaces allow people to use the Short Circuit Cafe and Brainstorming Grove for collaboration during the winter.

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Spring: FabTabs Spring transforms the plaza into the epicenter of an alternative energy challenge. Fabrication tables (FabTabs) extend from the adjacent fabrication lab (FabLab) to facilitate the visible testing and development of new products. Shade structures and complementary landscaping create a comfortable environment for collaboration.

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Summer: The Grove During the summer, the Brainstorming Grove and Think Tank provide a shaded and comfortable destination for meeting and socializing with access to the nearby Short Circuit Cafe and food trucks.

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Summer - Brainstoriming Grove T he B r ai n sto r mi n g G r ov e p rov ides an i n for mal desti n ation fo r meeting a nd sociali z i n g , with access to the nea rby Sho rt Ci r cuit Cafe a n d Food Truc ks.

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Realizing the Vision The vision for TechTown will be realized over time. The plaza is regarded as the near-term critical action item for the district. It serves as the nexus and collaborative common ground for a multitude of stakeholders, but also requires the coordination of several landholders to realize this vision. This planning process provides the foundation for seeking funding essential to implement this project. If realized, the core site public realm strategy has the potential to ignite innovation and drive Detroit’s transition toward a new economy.

Initial investments will occur at the heart of the district and begin with the creation of a pedestrian priority zone that reinforces connections among existing institutions and businesses. Low cost, high impact installations, such as mobile and adaptable collaboration cubes specifically designed for TechTown, will support a range of active uses. The subsequent development of the core plaza will include amenities to support innovation and livability and public realm improvements that connect to a new community park and proposed light rail transit.

enue Woodward Av

Burroughs Street

PHASE 1 COMPONENTS 


SPRING 2013 - CREATE PEDESTRIAN PRIORITY ZONE

A - IMPLEMENT LOW COST HIGH IMPACT INSTALLATIONS

B - DEFINE THE HEART

C - EXTEND INVESTMENT TO THE PARK

D - CONNECT TO FUTURE LIGHT RAIL

E - COMPLETE THE CORE 


A New Heart for TechTown

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5.0 


Process and Outreach 


Engagement Strategies

MYDISTRICT SURVEY

The TechTown planning process employed a variety of creative strategies to encourage participation. A stakeholder committee composed of representatives from the anchor institutions and other constituents provided leadership and direction at key milestones. A regular series of open forums afforded opportunities for wider participation, and included presentations from experts in innovation districts and research parks, urban design, and planning. Forums employed interactive games, such as the Circuit Board and the Coin Survey, to test program and design alternatives, and to rank strategies for investment. TechTownTalk, the project blog, was developed to document the planning process and provided another vehicle for information exchange. A MyDistrict survey, an interactive online graphic survey, was distributed to anchor institution employees and other constituents to surface qualitative impressions of the district. Individuals were asked to identify where ideas are formed, where they collaborate, favorite dining locations, favorite outdoor areas, and other questions about the amenities and qualities of the district. The survey responses helped to tailor the planning, programming, and urban design strategies to the unique requirements of an innovation district.

What areas do you find unsafe?

Where does collaboration occur?

What is the perceived boundary of TechTown?

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CIRCUIT BOARD GAME

PROJECT BLOG

Program Chips

Circuit Board

Testing Scenarios

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Open Forums

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS CLIENT

Sue Mosey, Midtown Detroit Inc.

STAKEHOLDER COMMITTEE

Dr. John Popovich, Henry Ford Health System Ned Staebler, Wayne State University Ann Beck, College for Creative Studies Leslie Smith, TechTown Jean Redfield, NextEnergy

STRATEGIC ADVISORS

Omar Blaik, U3 Ventures Alex Feldman, U3 Ventures

SASAKI TEAM

Dan Kenney Dennis Pieprz Romil Sheth Philip Perlin Caitlyn Clauson Victor Eskinazi Alexis Canter Ponnapa Prakkamakul Liz Juusola

CONSULTANTS

Blaine Merker, Rebar Group Inc. Ghigo DiTommaso, Rebar Group Inc. Scott Page, Interface Studio Anthony Townsend, Institute for the Future Mike Lydon, The Street Plans Collaborative

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Midtown Detroit Techtown District  
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