Saturday, November 19, 2005
Here in Ann Arbor, I had the pleasure of working alongside Calthorpe and Associates as a facilitator for the third and final downtown redevelopment charette in Ann Arbor. The plan that CA presented was just one of many possibilities that would add housing to the downtown core, increase walkability, and intensify what is already a very successful downtown district. CA will be taking final recommendations and presenting a final plan on December 5th. I hope that the City understands the skill of CA and moves to adopt their ideas as soon as possible.
I also recently took a guided tour of Hamtramck (pronounced Ham-Tram-ick), Michigan. Hamtramck is a small city within the city of Detroit. No, seriously it is its own municipality within the confines of Detroit proper, like Lesotho in the midst of South Africa. Anyways, touring this small, dense, walkable city of 22,000 people was fascinating. First, it is probably the most diverse part of metro Detroit, as it has served as an affordable place for immigrant populations for the last 50 years. As a result, you can experience any number of ethnic restaurants, grocery stores, or bars. Second, it has a great stock of housing that reminds me much of Somerville, MA, both in form and density. However, it is MUCH more affordable. Houses, whole houses, can be bought for 60,000 a piece. Crime is somewhat of an issue, and local politics are a bit insane, but the place seemed highly livable and vibrant, especially compared to the rest of Detroit. I have a feeling this whole place will gentrify in a matter of years. Get in now, and make out like a bandit!
In other news, I am currently co-authoring an article for the PLACES journal with cooltownstudios principal Neil Takemoto. The article will be centered around media/invisible technology and how it is changing the urban form. If our article is selected, it will be published later this winter. I will keep you all updated for sure.
Finally, I have decided to maximize my resources here at the University of Michigan, and apply for a joint degree in urban design, and for a certificate in progressive real estate development. This means that my stay in Ann Arbor could move from 2 years to 3. A thought that is both exciting and depressing, as I like the town but miss the city life. We'll see what happens... stay tuned for a paper on Lewis Mumford and a review of Ann Arbor. Cheers!