Center builds the community one project at a time
Photo (right): The Design Center staff created
interesting spaces with small children in mind when they developed
the design for the Mercy Education Project.
Photo (left): The Mercy Education Project combined
the expertise and collaboration of the Design Center staff, students,
and members of the project team.
in its ninth year of operation, the School of Architecture’s
Detroit Collaborative Design Center has created a range of innovative
and community-friendly projects from the “hay house”
in a depressed area of Detroit to a brilliant full-service community
center/gymnasium for people with a range of physical abilities for
Friends School on the city’s east side. Currently, the Design
Center staff, headed by Director Dan Pitera, Associate Director
Kathleen Teodoro and supported by project coordinators Andrew Sturm,
Christina Heximer, Chris Lee and one to two architecture students
per semester, are also working close to home as the lead project
coordinators for the University’s ambitious Riverfront Campus
and McNichols Campus renovation.
Another recent endeavor is the Mercy Education Project, a Sisters
of Mercy Regional Community of Detroit-sponsored center, which opened
in late September. The Design Center was challenged with a meager
budget of $25,000 to design and construct an 8,000 square foot facility
that houses an after-school program for young girls, tutoring for
older girls and a GED and life skills preparation program for adult
women in southwest Detroit. The building includes administrative
offices, classrooms, tutoring “pods,” a library, and
a digital technology center.
The Design Center staff conceptualized the facility with its users
in mind. First, they wanted to create spaces that were inhabitable
and fun for small children. They considered the kinds of places
that children like to play, like under tables or under staircases,
and created similar spaces in the facility. Second, they wanted
to create a supportive learning environment that didn’t feel
like a traditional, sometimes intimidating, educational facility.
Finally, they wanted a space where the children and adults could
display their artwork. So, they created a “refrigerator with
magnets,” which is actually a wall where artwork can be displayed
much like on the appliance in people’s kitchens. The resulting
facility is friendly and inviting to all of its new inhabitants.
The Design Center develops an astounding number and variety of projects
each year throughout the city. Below is a sample of recent projects
that demonstrates the range of creativity offered by the Detroit
Collaborative Design Center.
• Shrinking Cities—An international
study of Berlin/Detroit/Manchester/ Moscow. The Design Center is
the co-curator of the Detroit section
• Unity Temple Community/Youth Center—Youth
center and meeting hall for Unity Temple on Wyoming north of McNichols.
• Friends School Gymnasium for All—Design
for a gym that celebrates people with a range of abilities. This
is the first gym of its kind built from the ground up.
• Detroit Hispanic Neighborhood Technology Access
Center—Renovation of a 30,000 square foot warehouse
in southwest Detroit in the main offices, service center, and technology
access center for DHDC.
• NPower Michigan Training Facility—An
interior tenant improvement of an existing 2,450 sq. ft. office
space in downtown Detroit into the NPower Michigan's headquarters
and training/testing lab. Their mission is to empower non-profits
to achieve their own missions by integrating the appropriate use
of technology into their day-to-day work.
• Russell Woods Sullivan Entry Marker + Bus Stop—Landscape
design located on the corner of Davison and Livernois.