The competition brought together designers from around the globe and down the street, who worked to create a cohesive outdoor space that brings together Detroit's cultural institutions. The event was a partnership among the institutions in the cultural center and was held at the Detroit Public Library's Main Branch.
The winning concept "Detroit Square" brings placemaking to the significant cultural institutions in the Detroit Cultural Center. It will serve to unify the often unused outdoor spaces and create a more streamlined experience for visitors. The winning designs were selected from 44 entries.
The selected design teams include the following: Paris-based firm Agence Ter, a Detroit architecture + design company akoaki, Ann-Arbor design firm rootoftwo + a landscape designer/city planner Harley Etienne.
As Maurice Cox-- Detroit's Director of Planning & Development, said in his opening remarks, “Detroit is daring to dream big again.“
He noted that Detroit has never been afraid to take on challenges, and continued by praising the efforts of the entrants, saying the winning design will take the city to another level. He said the winning entry exhibited a “World class, international reach, steeped in local knowledge, which distinguished this winning team." The design allows all of the cultural institutions to come together, marrying their 12 distinct identities into one.
Neil Barclay, President + CEO of the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History was impressed that all institutions collaborated to create a unified initiative, and that each institution weighed in and listened together for the greater good of all. Observed early on in the process that “All cultural leaders met together at the table to enhance the cultural life of the city.“ Coming to Detroit from LA, he stated that it’s extremely unusual for cultural centers to meet and collaborate.
JoAnne Mondowney, the Executive Director of the Detroit Public Library aptly described the initiative as “a front row seat to history.” She said the project will shape the lives of many, while being a wonderful opportunity to be creative + inventive. She told the audience about the historical nature of the library-- including the significance of Ford and the automotive industry carving out its beginnings in the city, and of Thomas Edison using the Detroit Public Library as a boy.
There are so many stories intwined within the walls of our cultural institutions— and now they are given ‘permission’ to carry beyond the structures. This initiative seems to address the disconnected outdoor spaces of the museum district. It serves to create a continuity and encourage a flow that will extend the reach of each separate institution and crate a seamless/cohesive outdoor environment that instead encourages discovery and exploration.