Stalking Detroit

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<p>9 Foreword:ADedication Wededicate this book, with great sadness,butalso joy,to the memoryof lgnasi de Sola-Morales.At themomentof his untimelydeath,he wasthoughtfully,generously,and enthusiasticallyinitiating the foreword for this publication.Aswecomplete the fnal workfor thisproject,we fnd ourselves grappling not onlywith this great personal loss,but equallywith a deep regret for the common void created byhis absence and sharedbyall of us who formpartofthe discipline of architecture. lgnasihimself referred,inhisbookDiferences,Topographies of Contemporary Architecture, to the impression made uponhimbythe death ofDeleuze,who was clearlyan intellectual stimulus. Likewise,lgnasi, with his intense creativeenergy,hasservedand continues to serve,usingDeleuze's own term, as a"mediator"for many ofus.With great abilityto"construct intellectuallymobile concepts,"he forms part of that series of thinkers,events, or things,that open the possibilityfor each ofus to express ourselves with thatsame spirit of creativity. Beyond theobvious andimmediate inspiration forour research foundin his essay,Terrain Vague, he continuouslygenerated multiple and fertile grounds ofmeaningfulinquiry, always with an abundance of profound insights into therhythms and flows of contemporaneity.He had a unique capacityto trace beautiful and powerful,openandliberating, contours of thought captured byothers and projected in multiple and unforeseeable directions.He was a profoundly generous thinker,architect, teacher,mentor,and friend.The great bodyof workhe leaves behindoffers endless opportunities for resonance,exchange, dispute,and creativeprojection.Manyof uswill continue to talktolgnasi through hiswork, toplaywithit,to engage the forceof itsfreedom,and perhapsto askof it strange and new questionsnever imaginedbylgnasi himself. 12 attention.This activityrequired equal parts persistence and ambivalenc.Itmnl'ftItIf,n obsessive,self-indulgent,yet ultimately indifferent interest inrecordingthondltlnf urbnlm inDetroitin lieuof providingengineering solutions,putting forth nostalgicImnt,rprvldln snap judgements. TheCommittee forUrbanThinking:Detroit was establishedin1994asvhiItonduct research on theconditionalnature ofDetroit'surbanism.Since that time,thCommitthbn stalking the city:pursuing it bykeeping trackof itinaquiet, stealthy mannr.Nvr intnding to save it,solveit,or spinit,theCommitteehas effectively operated byrejecting thproblmsolvingposture thatpervadesmany established modes of urbaninquiry.TheCommitt's tctics explicate the modeof urbanism atworkinDetroit and simultaneouslyimplicatthe termsofits own involvement with the city. Stalking Detroit can be seen as abookabout the cityor as a book about the disciplines that try to make sense of it. Of seminal importance to this anthology, the photographs of JordiBernado andMonica Rosello construct documentaryevidence of the material and spatial conditionsofDetroitin the 1990's.These photographs capture the fantastic,poetic,factual,and sober reality of the city and infuse the primary essays with visual openingsonto the city itself. The three primary essays place the study ofDetroit in alarger historical and theoretical context. They work the thesisof the collection from multiple stationpoints and ground the workin scholarly foundations.JerryHerron's essay problematizes the touristic appropriationofDetroit'sruins and offers critical positions for the engagement ofDetroit as a cultural product.DanHoffmanrelates thematerial history of the city tohistorical models of production and chronicles the exhaustionof the cycle of modernity. PatrikSchumacher andChristianRognerarticulate the relationship between Fordism andModernism,and speculate onDetroit'srole inoffering aglimpse of post-Fordisturbanisminothercities internationally. Threephotographicessaysareincluded to drawparticular attention totheexceptional and extraordinary architectural results ofDetroit's peculiar urbanism while providing ascalar break between the larger urban projects.KentKleinman andLeslie vanDuzer's documentation of the renovationof theMichigan Theater for use as a parking garage exemplifes the opportunistic invasionof the automobile into whathad been the space of architecture in the city.DanHoffman's descriptionofDetroit's demolitionat the scale of the house and the cityprovides an index of the city's rapidly deteriorating material conditions.BobArens' description of theHeidelbergProjectand TyreeGuyton's appropriationofabandonedhousesas sites for culturalcommentaryillustrates the extraordinary cultural production attendant to the city's abandonment. Three design projects respond toandare developed directly from the specifc cultural, historic,and material conditionsofDetroit in the1990's. Theprimary intentioninincluding this work has been to reveal those conditions byrepresenting them usingmultiple means.An allied goal has been to offer an alternative to nee-traditional models of planning and urban design and their naive revisionist strategies for the recuperation of the pre-industrial city.Finally,and perhaps most importantly,we include this work to speculate on the role of architectural practicein theabsence 13 of traditional urbanism.Notcoincidentally, eachof the three projects,indifferingways,posits theimportance of landscape(in lieuof architecture)as the primarymediafor the conception and theconstructionof the contemporary city.Daskalakis andPerez's"ProjectingDetroit"articulates the surface of the ground as a frameworkfornewmodes of experience,activity,and inhabitation at whathad beenDetroit'scenter.Waldheim andSantos-Munne's"DecampingDetroit"takes the city's proposal to abandon largeportions of itself at face value and speculates on the future status of Detroit's newly depopulated landscapes. Young's"LineFrustration" delineates the political contrivanceof the city'sFederalEmpowerment Zone boundary while gamingwith those territories tangent to it. Taken together,the projects are meant to be atonce both critical andpropositional.They can be read as critical urban propositions forDetroit's near future, as well as attempts toilluminate theconditionsforpracticeincities like it.Collectively,the three diversestrategiespose large questions about the natureof establishing ameaningful andusefulpracticein the contemporary city.The criticalresponses by JoanRoig, JimCorner,andSantiagoColas are included to reflecton, the strategies forpractice implicated inthedesignprojects and to thematize the issues raisedby them in abroadertheoretical and criticalcontext.AlexMaclean'saerialphotographsaffordarare synopticview ofDetroit'sdisappearance. Increasingly,Detroit ismoreevidentin broadcastreception thanlived experience.The media,real estate,and businessinterests,as well as the city administrationitselfhaveinvested in anurbanism of the simulacra:theongoingmyth ofDetroit'sresurgence.Despitea recurringhistory ofrecent attempts to solve or saveDetroit,the city persists in a spontaneous ev.lution of aggressive dismantling.In spiteof the mostrecent(and severalhistorical}public relations campaigns designed to spinDetroit's long-awaited resuscitation as asite for destination entertainment and speculativeinvestment,the ongoingannexation of the city byits own suburbs continues apace, obscuring the material factof the city's ongoingdemolition.Among the mostrecent publicrelations campaigns has been the expenditure of millions of dollars of public funds to augment the federal government's 2000census countof the city's population in an attemptto recuperate Detroit'simage nationally as a site for speculativeinvestment.Developedwithpublicly subsidized tax incentives,newsports stadia and casinos serve the growing suburban populace by recasting the redundantcity as an a-historicaldestination theme parkbanking onDetroit'shistorical namebrand. Theseprojectscanbeunderstood astacticallydeployed coalitionsbetweencorporateculture,land speculators,the media,and various politicalplayers interested indeclaringDetroit'srecuperation. Only a blockdeep and intended foreasyaccess from suburbanhighwaysystems,these superfcial surfacesof urbanrefacementwork tosimultaneously erase both the gutsandguiltofwhat ha. d been one of the largest andwealthiestcities in the modern world.Behind these new public facades and their attendant media campaigns proclaimingDetroit is back,the city continues to disappear, leavingbehindextraordinarylandscapesand anincreasinglyindeterminateurbanism. GEORGIAOASKALAKIS,CHARLESWALOHEIMANDJASONYOUNG,editors. Facts ,From 1900 to1950 the population ofDetroit grew fromunder 285,700 to over1.8 million. 2From1950 to 2000 the population ofDetroit decreasedfrom over1.8million to951,270. 3No buildingconstruction permitswere issuedin Detroit in1988,then the7th largest city in theU.S. 4Between 1978and1998 only9000 buildingpermitswere issued fornewhomesinDetroit,while over 108,ooodemolition permits were issued. 5In1998,Detroitwas the 11thlargest city in theUS. 6In1998,79%of the populationinDetroitwas African American. 7In1998,78%of the population in the surrounding suburbswas White. 8 In1998,theaverage incomeinthecitywas47%of thatin thesurroundingsuburbs. 9Inthe1990's,Detroithadthelargestpercentage of single-familyhomesintheU.S. 10 Inthe1990's,the citylost1%ofitshousingstock each yearto arson. 11 In1990,thecityspent$25millionontheremoval ofabandoned housesandotherstructures. 12 Between1990and1992,the cityspent$250 millionontheremoval of toxicwaste onproperty the citywas donating toChrysler Corporation for the construction ofanew JeepFactory. Sources: 1 - 2, 5 - 8.U.S. CensusBureau. 3,g- 12. DanHoffman,"TheBesttheWorldhas to Offer,"Public lectureatUnionofInternationalArchitects Congress XIX,Barcelona, July 1996. 4.SanfordKwinter andDanielaFabricius,"ContractwithAmerica," Mutations, (Barcelona:ACTAR,2000), p. 6oo. zf P%M -"* $~ ` - M q] @9* wm@ ''`` g 4 $ 6 M I M f f f W@4 ~w***# g* q 69 8 g " ` M g g ' " P - mJ' " `""A"" Vt2 %0 8 u w "W 1$4#W 8 W MMT W 1960 " l ."s!*' " L wW o+w</p> <p> W1950 1994 . N @ $ P @ 6 % Mg 8 P wfwt # o $ w W f f .T '`` *^'&amp;W 8 ,| (, = W " "M 3M@-:g-'"- P . W W @@# l gMMDetroitdowntown fgure-ground diagrams,RichardPlum, "Detroit isEverywhere," ArchtectureMdgdzine,Apr|I+gg6,vol. 8,no. q,pp.-6.33 JERRYHERRON threemeditations ontheruinsofDetroit FirsttheFacts Forgetwhatyou thinkyouknowaboutthisplace.Detroit isthemostrelevantcityintheUnited Statesforthesimplereasonthatitisthemostunequivocallymodernandthereforedistinctiveof ournationalculture:inotherwords,atotalsuccess.NowhereelsehasAmericanmodernity socompletelyhaditswaywithpeopleandplacealike.Reputedly"historic"towns,likePhiladelphia,NewOrleans,andSanFrancisco,merelyseemoldbycomparison.Others,suchasNew York,LosAngeles,andMiami,arenotAmericanatall,butmorelikesmall,poorlyrunforeign countrieswithinsufficientfreshwater andarableland.AndChicago,nolessthanitssun-belt reflex,Houston,hasbeenforcedtocompensatewithhigh-risearchitectureforthegenerallack ofautochthonousculture.ThismakesDetroittherevealed"CapitaloftheTwentiethCentury," andlikelythecenturyahead,becausethisistheplace,morethananyother,wherethenative historyofmodernityhasbeenwritten.ThissamemodernityhasmadeAmericanscollectively, and globally,whatweareall stillbecomingtoday,bringingalongwith ustherest oftheso-called "developed"world. The genius ofthisbecoming wasour genius (forthosefortunate enough toliveinDetroit):a native son. "Nothing original,yet everything new," as Terry Smith hascharacterizedthemodernity ofHenryFord: Notone of thousands ofengineering and other toolingdiscoveriesthat attended thesue-cess of the new processes was his creation.The inventive genius represented by his name was above all an organizational one:elements developed elsewhere were shaped into 1.Terry Smith, Mal1ingtheadem:industry,Art,and DesigninAmerica(Chicago:University of Chicago Press,1993),15. aproductivesystemofincessantlyself-refiningfunctionalityinwhichnothingwas original except the system itself. ... 1 What islosttous now,perhaps,isthe liberatorymoment ofFord'ssystemic modernity,the perpetualmakingnew,whichhasbecomeconventionaltoreducetoapanopticregimeofidiotic, duplicableproduction,an"incessantlyself-refningfunctionality." ButtostopthereistolapseintotheworstkindofFoucauldiannostalgia:alongingfor lost disciplinethatmakespost-modernpunishment seemareliefThatisto say,it ismissing the 34 point.Atleast,it ismissingapointthatremainedcrucialtotheemergentstructureoffeeling that made modernityseemdesirableandtherefore worth buying(at frequentlyexorbitantrates). Theproblemof themodernistsubjectnow,atanyrate,theprobleminventedbysomeaspiring post-historians ofmodernity,isthe Joss ofthat defning,historicalOther:the time-boundwe that allofusonceknewourselvesreallytobe,asopposedtosomemodernistideal."Thepractical problem ofurbandesignnow,"RichardSennetthaswritten,forexample,withreference tothe plate-glassarchitectureinspiredbyMies,"ishowmenandwomencancopewiththesolitude imposed uponthem bymodernism." 2One could make sucha statement onlyintheabsenceofthat 2.RichardSennett, "PlateGlass,"Haritar16.4 (I 987), 7. lost collectiveOther ofhistory.Thequestion isforwhomandtowhatextent Sennett's once-upon-a-timeOtherhasbeendispersed. 3.ForanintroductiontoFord ismandpost-lordismin the context ofDetroit,see ParikSchumacheandChris-Anoppositionalhistorywascharacteristicnot onlyoftheprivilegedsubjects of modernist"high"culture,alongwith middle-classaspirantsto simulacra)entitlement;it seems to have defned the working-classsubjectsof"Fordism"as weJJ.3 Themodernity tianRogner,"AfterFmd," inthiscollection. 4.RobertLacey,Ford:TheMe11and theMachine(BoRton: LittleBrown,1986),109. oftheir labor,lookedbackatnow,consistedofthemechanicalequivalentofSennett's isolation:thedayspent intaskssoidioticallysmall as torefertonothing outside theirrepetitive, mindlesssimplicity,withthenecessaryspeedofthelineexecutingakindofnoisy,mechanical "solitudeimposeduponthembymodernism.""Themanwhoplacesapartdoesnotfastenit," Ford decreed,"Themanwho puts ina bolt doesnotputonthenut;themanwhoputs onthenut doesnot tighten it." 4 "Imagineitifyoucan,"awriter forColliers magazine beganhisdescription ofHenryFord'sHighlandParkassemblylinein1914duringthepeakproductionyearsofthe ModelT: ... its endless rowsof writhing machinery,its shrieking,hammering,and clatter,its smell ofoil,itsautumnhazeofsmoke,itssavage-lookingforeignpopulation-tomymindit expressed but one thing,and that was delirium.5 5.MelvinGHolli,ed.Detroi(New York:New Viewpoints, 1976),134. 6.FredricJameson,Postmodernismor,theCulturalLogic of LateCapitalism(Durh&gt;n, N.C.:DukeUniversity Press,1991), 34-5. Seventyyearslater,Fredric Jamesonwouldimaginehehaddiscoveredinpostmodernitythe"savage"self-fragmentingsubjectivitydescribedhere,whichhewould dubthe"hystericalsublime." 6Thosetwomomentsofhystericalprojectionsharethe samestrategy,which,likeSennett's,reducestounintelligibleruinanysubjectpositionnotpreciselysupervised bythei...</p>