MOTOWN WOODWARD CORRIDOR 1967


IN THE SUMMER OF 1967 I WORKED FOR VILICAN AND LAYMAN PLANNERS IN SOUTHFIELD MICHIGAN. THEY HAD A CONTRACT TO MAKE PROPOSALS FOR THE FUTURE OF THE COUNTY. JUST MY SORT OF THING. WE PRODUCED A BROCHURE OF SCHEMES OF THE FUTURE. THE MID RANGE PROPOSAL BEING THE DEVELOPMENT OF WOODWARD CORRIDOR. A RENOWN AVENUE OF THIRTY MILES FROM DOWNTOWN AT THE DETROIT RIVER, TO PONTIAC MICHIGAN 30 MILES AWAY, A SUBURB TOWN THAT AT ONE TIME WAS BIGGER THAN DETROIT.

WHEN WOODWARD REACHES SUBURBIA, EVERY MILE THERE IS A MAJOR CROSS STREET, MY SCHEME EMBELLISHED THIS PATTERN WITH HIGH DENSITY HIGH RISE NODES THAT WERE CONNECTED WITH A PREDOMINANT HORIZONTAL HIGH DENSITY LINEER PATTERN. A PARK RAN ADJACENT THAT WAS A BUFFER TO RESIDENTIAL HOUSING.

THE ARCHIGRAM PLUG IN HOUSING WAS THE RAGE, AND I MADE MY OWN PLUG ON INTERPRETATION TO MAKE THIS HAPPEN. FOR SOME STRANGE REASON THIS MODULAR HOUSING CLIP ON HAS NEVER BEEN BUILT IN A SUFFICIENT NUMBER TO BECOME PRACTICAL. IT SEEMS LIKE AN OBVIOUS SOLUTION THAT IS SO EASY TO DO. ONE OF THE MANY THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ARCHIGRAM AND I WAS MY STRONG CONNECTION TO NATURE. A FEW YEARS LATER AT CAL POLY WHERE I WAS TEACHING , RON HERRON OF ARCHIGRAM, WHILE GIVING A LECTURE, STATING THAT “HE DIVORCED HIS DESIGNS FROM NATURE” THUS NATURE WAS EXCLUDED.

I INCORPORATED MY VERTICAL ROAD SYSTEM AS THE CIRCULATION ELEMENT. SEE MY VERTICAL ROAD MASS TRANSIT DETROIT BLOG. THE OPEN SPACE AROUND THE VERTICAL ROAD MADE A LOT OF SENSE. OUR FREEWAYS ARE SO LIMITED IN COMPARISON. AT THE VERY LEAST THEY SHOULD HAVE RAPID TRANSIT IN CONJUNCTION, BUT THAT HAS NEVER HAPPEN NOR LIKELY TO IN THE FUTURE.

LIMITED THINKING PREVAILS. ACCEPTING THAT FACT, THEN WE SHOULD DEVELOP PLUG ON FUNCTIONS TO OUR EXISTING FREEWAYS. IN ACADEMIA THIS SEEMS TO BE A STANDARD DESIGN PROBLEM THAT SEES ONLY VERY LIMITED BUILT RESULTS. IT IS SO OBVIOUS AND YET REQUIRES THE COORDINATION OF FREEWAY SYSTEMS AND LOCAL MUNICIPALITIES.

THIS WAS JUST ANOTHER PROPOSAL SPONSORED BY THE GOVERNMENT TO STIMULATE DEVELOPMENT THAT ENDED UP IN SOME DISCARDED BOX.
THE GAP BETWEEN IDEAS AND IMPLEMENTATION BEING IMPRACTICAL. SO WHY EVEN BOTHER TO THINK, OTHER THAN TO EXPLORE POSSIBILITIES WITH NO REALITY.

A BITTER MAN HERE THAT SEES THE DECLINE OF THE HUMAN RACE BASED ON A LACK OF SEEKING AND BUILDING SYSTEMS IN HARMONY WITH NATURE AND THE POTENTIAL OF MANKIND. NOT THAT THIS SCHEME IS ALL THAT GREAT, BUT IT WOULD HAVE ADDRESSED A LOT OF THE NEEDS THAT EVENTUALLY RESULTED IN A DESTROYED DETROIT CITY.

GLEN

LEFT VERTICAL ROAD SYSTEM FRAMED BY HIGH RISES. RIGHT HORIZON UNITS PROJECTION INTO THE PARK


HIGH DENSITY NODES EVERY MILE WITH PARK BUFFER CONNECTION TO RESIDENTIAL


A VARIETY OF PLUG-ONS THAT ARE UPDATED OR REMOVED AS NEEDED


WOODWARD AVE. LOOKING SOUTH TOWARD DOWNTOWN ON THE DETROIT RIVER


THIS IS ABOUT 3 MILES FROM THE RIVER. MY PROPOSAL IS AROUND NINE MILES FROM THE RIVER IN A LOW DENSITY AREA. BY THE AGE OF THE CARS, THIS PHOTO WAS TAKEN AROUND 1939. DOWN THE MIDDLE WERE TROLLEY TRACKS, LONG GONE NOW.

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8 comments

  1. MITM,

    THANKS FOR BRINGING THIS TO MY ATTENTION, THIS IS THE REPLY.

    DEAR VIOLETA,

    YES, I SAW THE ROTUNDA LAST JUNE.

    THE POSITIVE ISSUE IS THAT THE ROTUNDA WAS IN DISREPAIR FOR YEARS. THE MONUMENT NOW HAS BEEN REPAIRED WHICH I AM THANKFUL FOR. I HOPE THIS WILL BE DONE AS WELL WITH MY NEGLECTED FOUNTAIN ROTUNDA IN FRONT OF THE OLD INTERCONTINENTAL HOTEL, THE FOUNTAIN WAS IN NEED OF SOME TENDER LOVING CARE AS OF LAST JUNE. IN 2004 IT WAS BEAUTIFUL WHEN IN OPERATION. NOW IT IS A DISGRACE TO NICARAGUA FOR LACK OF MAINTENANCE.

    THE NEW COLOR SCHEME OF EIGHT VIBRANT COLORS FOR THE JOURNALISTS MONUMENT DOES NOT DO THE SCULPTURAL SHAPE JUSTICE. THE MANY COLORS DETRACT FROM THE SIMPLICITY OF THE DYNAMIC FORMS. THE DETRACTING INDIAN SYMBOLS ARE APPLIED LIKE SOME OVERSIZE PASTE ON DECORATIONS.

    MY ARTIST WIFE CHRISTINE LUGO BACA, LIKES THE COLORS, SO THERE IS A BIT OF FRICTION IN THE FAMILY WHEN DISCUSSING THE NEW PAINT JOB. ALSO LOOKING AT THE MONUMENT IN CONTEXT TO THE SIGN BOARDS AND COLORS OF THE SURROUNDING BUILDINGS THERE IS A COMMON COLOR SCHEME WHICH IS LATIN IN FEELING. BY LIMITING THE COLOR SCHEME TO MAYBE THREE COLORS THERE COULD HAVE BEEN A MORE SENSITIVE COMPROMISED APPROACH THAT MEET EVERYBODY’S DESIRES.

    WHAT I DO FIND INSENSITIVE AND OUT OF PLACE IS THE LARGE LIGHT CHRISTMAS TREE THAT DISRUPTS THE PLAZA. I HOPE THIS HAS BEEN REMOVED OR WILL BE SOON.

    THE ORIGINAL LIGHTS ON THE MOUNMENT, SHOOTING UPWARD, HAVE NOT BEEN IN OPERATION FOR YEARS. THE LANDSCAPING VEGETATION IS NOT APPROPRIATE, A RESPECTFUL GUARD HOUSE IS NEEDED, WHICH I COULD DESIGN IF ASKED.

    I LOVE NICARAGUA AND COULD DO SO MANY POSITIVE DESIGNS, IF ASKED.

    GLEN HOWARD SMALL , ARCHITECT

    P.S. IF YOU PRINT THIS IN THE PAPER, PLEASE PRINT THE WHOLE COMMENT IN TACT. THANKS,

  2. KATRINE

    THANKS FOR THE COMMENT. I LOOKED AT THE PLAN AND AGREED WITH YOUR ASSESSMENT. THIS IS THE WAY WOODWARD AVE. CUTS ACROSS THE RESIDENTIAL GRID. A VERY LOGICAL HIGH DENSITY NODES FLOWING INTO THE RESIDENTIAL. BUT THINGS DO NOT GET BUILT LIKE THIS AND NEVER WILL.

    I JUST RETURNED FROM A TRIP THAT WENT TO SAN DIEGO AND BACK TO OREGON STOPPING IN SAN FRANCISCO AND LA. AND STOPS ALONG THE WAY.

    THE MAN MADE STUFF IS SO AWFUL AND WILL NEVER SERVE THE WHOLE SOCIETY IN A FRIENDLY WAY. SO I ASK, WHY EVEN TRY TO EDUCATE WITH VISIONARY SCHEMES?

    GLEN

  3. Was your inspiration seed pods? For some reason this scheme reminds me of them. Pods on a post / branch / stick. What are the mass of shapes on the ground? A pile of pods? If the architecture is to imitate nature then i think we into a ‘naturalist fallacy’ issue. As I probably misunderstand the fallacy, the argument would be that looking at and holding nature as the model for good architecture ie natural forms are aesthetic by its association with nature and also morally and ethically good because nature is good as well. I do not have a problem with this since i adore nature and all its variations. But merely copying a plant form or crystal shape does this make the work good, more natural and thus achieving a bio-aesthetic merely by resemblance. I dont think so. And this is the naturalistic fallacy. It would be the physical and environmental principals derived from nature that make it good, ethical and aesthetic. Pods and crystals despite their natural shapes would suffer as inadequate for housing. Man would have to adapt to the pod containers for human housing. The biomorphic biosphere has a similar complaint; everyone would need to adapt to live in the bio-capules. If this is a good or bad idea, thats the debate. To live or interact in these plug in pods human behavior would have to change, or the system fails. A forced evolution or sort. . When all this happens what version of humankind do you envision? Are you redesigning man? as well as architecture?

    • ERIC,

      THERE WAS NO CORRELATION BETWEEN SEED PODS AND HOUSING UNITS. I ENVISION AN INTERIOR THAT CREATES CERTAIN FUNCTIONS EXPRESSED IN THE ULTIMATE OUTSIDE FORM. MAN IS NOT A BOX, NOR LIVING IN A BOX IS THE DEFINITION OF MAN MADE SPACES. I HAVE YET TO DESIGN WHAT I AM TALKING ABOUT, BUT HAVE SEEN EXAMPLES OF SENSUOUS INTERIORS THAT DICTATE OUTSIDE FORMS. SO THE DRAWINGS OF THE WOODWARD CORRIDOR AND THE BIOMORPHIC BIOSPHERE ARE ABSTRACTIONS OF CLIP ON APARTMENTS OR LIVING UNITS THAT RESEMBLE SEED POD SHAPES TO YOU.

      MY MOTHER NEVER COULD ACCEPT ABSTRACT DESIGN. I DESIGNED AN ABSTRACT PIN FOR HER TO WEAR THAT SHE WAS VERY FOND OF, BUT SHE CALLED IT A FISH. SHE COULD NOT ACCEPT IT AS JUST FORM.

      I AM A FORM MAN THAT ENJOYS SENSUOUS SHAPES. THEY ARE ALL AROUND, BUT SELDOM GET TO LARGE MAN SCALE LIVING ENVIRONMENTS.
      THE DIFFICULTY OF CONSTRUCTION AND COST BEING THE DETERRENT. BUT THAT IS CHANGING WITH THE NEW COMPUTER BUILDING PROCESSES.

      GLEN

  4. I was remembering Geoffrey Scott’s 1914 ARCHITECTURE OF HUMANISM, the Biological fallacy argument.. Is nature, and by extension nature based architecture, beautiful and good because it is, well God’s works, or pantheistic, ie nature is beautiful and good because … it is. WE emulate & copy nature to be good and beautiful. Biological is better. Boxes are not. And because nature and biology are good and beautiful and in tune with each other WE are better form it, more in tune , with our environment, natures beauty and goodness, ourselves.

    I would also make an architectural distinction between using biology /nature as process and biology / nature as shape. I prefer the process based architecture: solar orientation, passive cooling, etc that is evident in your better works

    Going back, I think the biological fallacy critique i was remembering reading was about applied nature-like ornament like art nouveau decoration. Drawing on nature as a motif, which todays green architecture seems to do; that is applying nature as an ornament, and missing the process behind the color. A green box is still a box

    OK clip-on, plug-in…I think like that too. but that is for later

    eric

    • ERIC,

      GREEN ARCHITECTURE THAT IS STILL A BOX. A GREAT LINE YOU ESTABLISH. IN SANTA MONICA, ROBERT REDFORD HAS A GREEN BUILDING THAT IS A BOX. HOW INCONGRUOUS, HOW BORING, HOW WASTEFUL OF HIS EFFORT AND MONEY.

      WHAT AMAZES ME IS TO SEE TOURISTS TAKING PICTURES OF SEAL ROCK, A FEW BLOCKS FROM MY ABODE. THE NATURAL BEAUTY SO OBVIOUS AND SOUGHT AFTER. AND YET THESE SAME PEOPLE LIVE AND EMBRACE INSIPID BOXES AS HOMES AND WORK SPACES, AND IF I PROPOSED FLUID ORGANIC SPACES FOR THEM TO INTERACT WITH, IT WOULD BE A RESOUNDING NO.

      GLEN

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