The Grand Opening
Redesigning Detroit Competition
Architect : Simplex Architecture + FF
Design Team : Greg Park, Terry Park, Jeong Jun Song, Hyuntek Yoon, Kyung Jae Yu
The mission to The Grand Opening is to create a vision for 24/7 timeless vibrant and walkable urban neighborhood in downtown Detroit with a catalytic impact on the retail activities of Woodward Avenue Corridor. Despite the declining population and activities of the downtown Detroit in past decades, recent influx of major cultural facilities, such as theaters and sports stadiums as well as major office headquarters and commercial programs have established optimistic progress that the downtown Detroit could flourish again. Yet, the programs have not fully activated street life of downtown due to its limited hours of activity and nature of being inside, specifically the retails of Woodward Corridor.
The plan for The Grand Opening is to completely revitalize street life of downtown Detroit by filling the temporal gap of an existing cultural facilities and commercial district adjacent to the site and encouraging retail activities with timeless programs, including “the Arcade”, a Department Store, and an Art Gallery with extended hours of operation. The Grand Opening will connect the different contexts of the existing urban settings and bring every hour of excitement, crowd and memorable identity to the street life of downtown Detroit. The plan will be facilitated by the physical advantages, such as proximity to the future light rail system on Woodward Avenue and existing monorail system. The mixed-use development of The Grand Opening will transform the former J.L Hudson’s site, once one of the most vibrant retails, into a signature place for residing, working, employing, visiting, living, playing and investing in a vibrant community, as well as a gateway of connecting downtown Detroit and rest of the midtown Detroit, attracting every local residents and visitor to the New Downtown Detroit.
The site is located in between the commercial / business district on the south and the major cultural, arts district to the north. By contextually connecting the different characteristics and activities of each districts, and by bringing the different context into the site at the same time, the site will be filled with energy and excitement. The site is on Woodward Avenue, one of the most significant shopping alleys in downtown. While the site remains empty since the demolition, it is important to re-establish the urban corridor and strengthen the axis by filling the empty site with a facade that accommodates the scale and materials of the adjacent buildings facing Woodward Avenue. The existing monorail and the newly proposed light rail system passing on the sides of the site gives a great opportunity to directly bring people into the site, and creating a connection between the two transportation method will maximize the effect. Taking all these aspects into account, the proposed design is in a combined form of a dense urban block and a grand openings on either sides of the block creating a unique linkage and an urban room that will contain and spread out the energy and excitement in downtown Detroit.
The Components of The Grand Opening’s vision include: 1) Stimulate the retail activities and encourage foot traffics of Woodward Corridor by creating unique public arcade space with accommodation of maximum number of storefronts, merged directly from the Woodward Avenue to bring in more people and provide extended retail opportunities. 2) Extend hours of activities including kiosks, retails, gourmand dining, bar, seasonal events and festivities to provide unique shopping and gathering experience where people would want to spend more time during day and night. 3) Provide access to quality art and design workshops and public exhibition of collaborative works to the regional educational institutions, art communities, and visitors. 4) Restore the historical remembrance of the one of the most important retail corridor with massive flagship store and the icon for fashion, art and design. 5) Supply 253 housing with 20 percent of affordable units and 354,199 sf of class-A office spaces in countermeasure for current office and residential deficit of the downtown Detroit market, due to recent increase in the number of new employees and company headquarters. 6) Maximize the rental revenue from office, residential, retail, and department by stationing them in their prime location by the function. 7) Node two major existing and proposed public transportation to bring the biggest crowd to the Hudson’s site and all of the downtown Detroit, and connecting downtown and midtown Detroit. 8) Minimize the risk by utilizing and reinforcing existing framework of urban context to bring economic development and potential future opportunities, rather than introducing new programs into the Hudson’s site.