Wow, what a week! I had the great privilege of spending four days in Detroit this past weekend. I wasn't sure what to expect from a city that has had its ups and downs. I spent my first day touring the General Motor's Research and Development campus, which was designed by Eero Saarinen. Unfortunately, I wasn't allowed to take pictures, but please check out Michigan Modern. The next day I spent touring the Renaissance Center, GM's corporate headquarters in downtown Detroit. Originally built by the Ford Motor Company, the seven interconnected skyscrapers create a city within a city by hosting many restaurants, shops, offices, and the tallest hotel in the Western Hemisphere. The success of the design may be due to the creation of public and private space by creating large communal areas and small coves. Similar to Walt Disney's EPCOT concept, Detroit contains a People Mover, which connects the downtown buildings together. While riding the People Mover, I realized how bad the economy had affected Detroit. I've never seen buildings the size of Cedar Riverside abandoned. It was a real eye-opening experience. I also had the opportunity to see the abandoned Packard Plant, which is approximately 3.5 million square feet. Once a revolutionary automobile factory, it is now a haven for artists, scrappers, and urban explorers. A manmade hurricane of economic turmoil caused what now exists in Detroit.
In my opinion, Detroit has a lot of potential. The trip made me realize how much the University of Minnesota and the Twin Cities has to offer.