Motown [RE]Vival: The Use of Culinary and Urban Farming to Revitalize the Dying City of Detroit
Date of Submission
Bachelor of Architecture
Motown: Detroit, Michigan, once known as the automotive capital of the world, received its claim to fame through the birth of the assembly line by Henry Ford in 1905. His innovation steered the big boom of the automotive industry in the early 20th century, and later the mass movement to the city. Sadly, that all came crashing down with the fall of the industrial period. The loss of nearly all its auto plants, postwar white flight and suburbanization caused the city to suffer economic turmoil. By 1980 the population had decreased 35% since its peak in 1950. Today? The city endures the loss of over 60% of its population. With lack of people and a scarcity of business, Detroit is also fighting food desertion with 69% of households being food insecure. The once bustling factories and auto plants now sit dormant with nearly 900 structures unused. What if we could change that and restore Motown’s former glory? Industrialized cities can reclaim their purpose through innovation that engages the public and provides a new purposeful identity. My thesis aims to breathe life back into the dying city of Detroit, through adaptive reuse strategies accompanied by a new program, food. Turning a portion of Detroit into a culinary hub to include demo kitchens, restaurants, and small business supports. While also incorporating an urban farming sector to educate, grow, and sell produce straight from their metaphorical backyard. Not only will this bring a fresh focus, but it will also build revenue and encourage population growth. My proposal seeks to educate the locals on farm to table, food research learning and distribution, by incorporating a culinary research institution. This new institute will touch on the historical significance of the surrounding industrial buildings while informing the possibilities of a bright future as a culinary core. The education center will offer a variety of learning through field study and stress the importance of food technology.
The questions are What do the current and future people of Detroit need to maintain a healthy social, economic, and communal relationship? How can my proposed design aid in the fight for urban regeneration and food security? Can these tactics work as an exemplary model for other fallen industrialized cities to follow. Many other architects have proposed ideas. Specifically, they have focused on housing, office, and multi-use. None have introduced the idea of a cuisine city center that could aid in the current food desertion epidemic. With 19 neighborhoods without adequate food access, my plan will bring an opportunity to revitalize these communities. And in whole, pull the dying city of Detroit out of neglect.