Monday, December 28, 2009

Detroit's Empty Buildings...

As someone who grew up in the Detroit area and lived there through high school, I can attest to the fact that it's downtown has some amazing and beautiful architecture.  Indeed, many great architects did some of their best work in downtown Detroit--especially during the first half of the 20th century.

Unfortunately, many of those buildings are now abandoned.  This YouTube video surveys some of them.

Now, to be sure, ever since I remember (dating back to the late 70s/early 80s) Detroit has always had a large number of beautiful but empty buildings.  However, the extent of the city's abandonment these days seems even more stark than ever before.

From a land use perspective, it's almost impossible to conceive of how to revitalize Detroit's urban core and these buildings.  While the downtown street grid is very well-designed and interconnected, there simply appears to be little to no demand for commercial or residential space in the area. 

Indeed, this continues to be one of America's greatest urban land use tragedies.  That so much beautiful architecture and well-designed urbanism is likely to deteriorate to total waste is immensely saddening.

--Chad Emerson, Faulkner U.

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