Our last trip…

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After one night in Pittsburgh to visit Francesca, another student of architecture from Turin in US for her master thesis too, we left at 11 AM towards New York. Our return flight departed at 8.30 PM and Giulia (only Giulia can drive our car) drove for 7 hours with only three short breaks because we were afraid to loose the flight! Indeed, we arrived at the check-in only 15 minutes before the closure. Fortunately, also if we had one more suitcase (and so we had to pay more), we made it through security without a hitch.

Food for thought #n°

After two months of America, and of Americans, we can list a series of strangeness that we consider super weird and some habits that are not so common in Italy and, in general, in Europe. Don’t get mad guys, we joke 🙂

#1 – Restaurants serve ice in your water no matter the weather

#2 – Air conditioning. Everywhere. At all time!

#3 – How hard is calculating tips?!

#4 – The waiters come back to check on you every three minutes. If possible, while             you have your mouth full…

#5 – Waiters refilling your glass as soon as the water dips below the halfway point

#6 – Pharmacies also sell candy, soda, food….

#7 – One gallon (four litres!) milk bottles and packs with at least 12 eggs

#8 – Being asked for your ID when you enter a bar or buy a beer or cigarettes, even             though you are clearly over 30 years old

(In fact, this is a good habits!)

#9 – Pool-slippers style… why??

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#10 – The currency all looks the same. And coins size doesn’t reflect their value

#11 – Prices are always displayed without taxes

#12 – The clerks fill your bags at the supermarket

#13 – Pubs, clubs and nightclubs close at 2.00 AM. And bartenders literally kick you             out at 2.01

#14 – When someone says “how are you?” or “how are you doing” but they    really mean “hello”. And you never know how to answer

#15 – Flags. Everywhere. EVERYWHERE

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#16 – This travesty they have the audacity to call “Espresso”

#17 – Sauces galore (also on salad!)

#18 – Unadjustable showerheads

#19 – Commercials and social also for churches

#20 – Drive-through everything

#21 – The sheer amount of food choices

#22 – The gaps between the doors in public restrooms

#23 – Grated mozzarella (???)

#24 – Why guys don’t you write PUSH and PULL on the doors?!

#25 – Stop 4 ways. Only after a month of everyday drives we discover how to deal!

#26 – 4840 traffic lights at every intersection

#27 – The rule regulating the street addresses. Why between two nearby houses                     there are four,five or also ten numbers? 2348 – 2350 – 2356 – 2360

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Bye Detroit, see you soon!

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It’s time to go home, our time here in Detroit is done. This trip was a great experience and also if we are happy to return in Italy and to see our families, we are really sad to leave this amazing city! But don’t worry Detroit, we’ll come back!

Thanks to everyone that helped us during these two months and to all those who lead us to discovering the city.

A special thanks to Martin and Lisa, you were the perfect housmates: lovely and funny! See you in Berlin maybe 🙂

Thanks to all our Italian friends here in Detroit: Daniele, Patrizia, Vittorio and Filippo…we love you! We are really glad to meet you. If we enjoyed our time is thanks to you and all our adventures together. See you soon in Italy!

Thank you Ray and thanks to all your staff (Mona, Brianna and Jessica), you were the first who showed a genuine interest in our university research.

Thank you Adrian for all contacts and opportunities that you gave us; if our stay here was so good and our research went well this has only been possible because of you. Come visit us in Italy!

And now one last trip to Pittsburgh to visit a friend and tomorrow, at the JFK Airport in New York, we have our return flight to Milano, Italy.

We will miss you a lot Detroit and Detroiters!

And now… MOVEMENT!

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We spent our last three days in Detroit, May 27th, 28th and 29th, without working: we decided to have fun and enjoy the city for the last time! So we’ve been at a techno music festival in Downtown, the Movement, and we spent some time with our friends and our housemates.

The Movement Electronic Music Festival is an annual electronic dance music event held in Detroit each Memorial Day weekend since 2006. The first electronic music festival held in Detroit was in 2000, produced by Carol Marvin and her organization Pop Culture Media. Taking place in Detroit’s Hart Plaza, it was a landmark event that brought visitors from all over the world to celebrate Techno music in the city of its birth. The event was one of the first electronic music festivals in the United States! Year after year the event grew up and now is one of the most popular techno festival in the world. And during these days in all the city there are after parties and side events related to the Movement and techno music in general. At the Movement we attended only one day, the first, but it was a great experience anyway; maybe we can return next year!

Movement Detroit

Movement Detroit – Wikipedia

One other great experience that we had in these day was the visit at the Fisher Body Plant 21, an abandoned factory located on the southeast corner of Piquette and St. Antoine. It was designed in 1921 by Albert Kahn for Fisher Body, who manufactured Buick and Cadillac bodies in the plant until 1925. The plant is six stories tall, with a footprint of 200 feet (61 m) by 581 feet (177 m) and an interior area of 536,000 square feet. During the Great Depression, Mr Fisher suspended the production and the building was used as a soup kitchen and homeless shelter. The plant was used as an engineering design facility from 1930–1956 and during World War II, the factory produced differents kind of bullets, ammunitions and some assemblies for B-25 Mitchell bombersAfter 1956, the plant was used to build Cadillac limousine bodies but in 1984 General Motors closed the plant. After GM left, several paint companies used the building; it closed definitively in 1994. In 1999, as a result of unpaid property taxes, the building became the property of the City of Detroit.

Thanks to a german friend (Tim) we discovered the way to get to the top of the building and so we decided to go there to see the sunset over the city. It was a great experience and we took a lot of photos! We were curious to see the city from so high up and, once on the top of the water container the view was amazing: you can understand the structure of the city and see all the vacand lots and empty spaces.

A perfect way to conclude our stay in Detroit. Thank you Tim!

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Now that we’re at the end of our stay we can take stock of the work done so far: we are very pleased about our research and of how it took place here. In particular we are very happy about the interest that our project generated in almost everyone that we met and about the help that some of them gave us during this period. People here are very available and so, also if we didn’t have the support of a local University during these months, we’ve managed to obtain good results and, in general, we collected interesting datas and informations. Now we can return at home, in Italy, with something on which we can work and on the basis of which we can start writing phisically our master thesis.

The ruins of Detroit industry: five former factories

Fisher Body

Piquette Avenue Industrial Historic District

Fisher Body Plant 21 location

SUBSTREET – Fisher Body Plant 21

The Fisher Body Plant 21

Our last meeting

Today we had the last meeting concerning our research with Jason Friedmann, a man that works for the City, in particular he works for the Housing and Revitalization Department. We met him during the community meeting last week for the redevelopment of Transfiguration School into a mixed-income housing and we agreed to see each other for discuss about our master thesis. It was a very interesting and clarifying meeting because he explaned to us the structure of the different departments of the City and their interrelation. After the meeting we figured out better the relation between the Planning and Development Department, the City Planning Commission, the Housing and Revitalisation Department and the Buildings, Safety Engineering and Environmental Department. It’s a shame that we didn’t met Mr. Friedmann before but, fortunately, we agreed to stay in contact!

To understand how the City works and which are the relations between an institution and the others is not so easy, also for the employees of the city hall! We’d really love to realise a chart that explain better these relations, and Mr Friedmann think that this is a good idea! So stay tuned…

In particular Jason Friedmann explained us better the project concerned the implementation of Commercial Corridors in all the Detroit area for try to improve the economy of the City. Actually we don’t have any material, map or data that we can show here in our WordPress website but we hope that, in the future, the City can sharing with us some of theis studies. For the moment we can publish a map current on the Data Driven Detroit website that shows an analysis of existing Commercial Corridors in the City (in 2012).

Commercial corridors Data Driven Detroit

37 Minutes with Jason Friedmann in Hamtramck

Detroit selects ‘Pink Zone’ partners

the Department of Neighborhoods

As is customary, this morning we took part at the DONs‘ meeting. Today’s meeting was our last and for the occasion we prepared a tiramisù for the entire staff; they helped us so much in these two months in Detroit so what better way to thanks them than a home-made italian tiramisù? We waited the end of the meeting and we ate all together our dessert: they loved it so much!

For get back to our research, today’s meeting has focused on the end of Motor City Makeover and on what the City can do for continue to fix Detroit and on how the City can do for involve its citizens more. It was an interesting meeting and, in general, everyone was satisfied about how Motor City Makeover was done. There was also a short speech of the Detroit Land Bank and of the Public Lighting Authority. They discussed also about the imminent launch of the QLine, the new tram-line on Woodward Ave (the opening day will be next Friday, May 12th). In all the last month were held , The following photo show one of the streetcars that pass in front of MOCAD (the Museum of Contemporary Arts Detroit) during these tests.

Credits: Instagram page “puredetroit313”

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These two months of DONs’ meeting were very helpful for us because, apart from all the contacts that we took, we could get a clear idea on what is happening now in Detroit, on how the City is working on and what are the main issues requiring a solutions (for example increase public lighting, fix sidewalks, the problem of storm water, bord up houses and remove dumping areas, etc…).

Public Lighting Authority

Detroit Land Bank

ADA Ramp and Sidewalk Requirements

Storm Water

Water and Sewerage Department

METRO TIMES – Board up Detroit’s houses

CRAIN’S DETROIT BUISNESS – Board up Detroit’s houses

FACEBOOK PAGE – District 6 Board Up Team!

For lunch we decided to go to eat an hamburger for the last time at Slow Bar BQ on Michigan Ave and we also bought their fantastic sauces for take them home. To all those of you going to Detroit, please go to eat  at Slow Bar BQ: they are amazing (our favourite is “the Special Purpose“)! After this good lunch we decided to dedicate all the afternoon on a shopping spree: following a list of stores where you can go for buy clothes, souvenirs and much more.

Pure Detroit

The Peacock Room

The Salvation Army

City Bird

Flo Boutique

MotorCity Makeover!

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Last day for MotorCity Makeover, this time in District 6 and District 7. For us the appointment was at Patton Recreation Center, the seat of District 6, but after the usual welcome-moment with the distribution of t-shirts, gloves and trash bags, we drove around District 7 area. Like usual we distributed water and snacks to volunteers who were engaged with the neighborhoods care. Today also Daniele was with us and he took some beautiful photos of the differents groups of volunteers from which we went. We haven’t distributed our questionnaire today but we spoke with differents Block Clubs’ leaders and, especially, we discovered some parts of the city that we didn’t know about. We visited 7 places in total and we found volunteers in 6 of them.

Your work for the community is amazing guys!

After that, we passed at “Eleos Coffee” for an Espresso and we returned at home for lunch.

Since today is Saturday, tonight we go out! See you tomorrow for more details. In the meantime, in the section “photo” some pictures about today’s tour.

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Stay tuned!

In the past three days unfortunately we didn’t had a lot of appointment like usual. So we stay at home to improve our blog and get informations about some other oppotunity for the following two weeks here in Detroit. Moreover we decided to drive around the city and try to discover new places and areas we’d never seen before! Stay tuned!

Transfiguration School Meeting

Thanks to a new friend, today we attended at another community meeting in the District 3. This event was about the development of a multi-family housing in the former Transfiguration School located at 13300 Syracuse Street and the location of the meeting was the same. This was the first meeting with residents that, like every time the City is willing to develop some project, are really involved in the decision-making process. The contribution of the population was great and it seems that everyone that took part at the meeting was sincerely interested in it and in tell his opinion about. A lady also proposed to do a tour of the building to show to partecipants what their were talking about: it seems a brilliant idea also to organisers so, at the end of the meeting, the tour took place and everyone had the possibilityto see this historic and well maintained building.

The proposal concerned the possible conversion of the ex-tranfiguration school in one new complex of apartments in collaboration between the City of Detroit and the Archdiocese of Detroit. The project proposal shall be generated through a contest which ends on June 5th. There are some requirements pre-arranged, for example the obligation to ensure at least 20% to those households at 80% of the area median income or lower. Other important requests are about the number of apartments, which shall be between 15 and 25, the requirement to provide at least 1.25 parking spaces for every apartment, the preservation of historic archicture items and the obligation of giving priority to residents in the area during the lease.

The Department that is engaged in this development project is the Housing and Revitalization Department, that works together with the Planning and Development Department, identifying intervention areas and selecting building adequate for the transformation process.

Transfiguration School Project Guidelines

City of Detroit – Transfiguration School

Article – Transfiguration School Redevelopment

Bye Vittorio, see you soon in Turin!

Today, except working at home for our research, we took an Italian friend to the airport. Vittorio was here in Detroit for the same reason we’re here. He is an architecture student in Turin and he was here to develop his final project like us. But after three months, today he has had to leave the city and come back to Italy.

This post is dedicated to you, guy! Thank you for all and see you soon in Turin! Detroit miss you…Bye bye!

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And today… BARBECUE!!

After so much work, community meetings and several events, finally a day with friends and total relax (more or less)! The last few days we decided to organise a barbecue in our Air BnB house for some friends, our italians classmates and all the people that helped us with our research here in Detroit. Unfortunately in was mother’s day and so some of them couldn’t come but it was a perfect party anyway! Thanks to all of you who supported us and who belived in our research! A special thanks to our neighbor George for the stereo and for the grill; thanks also to Lynne. that cooked fabulous pork ribs and brought amazing strawberries full of chocolate (actually it was her daughter that raised them)! Thanks also to Martin and Lisa‘s friends that played great music and thanks also to Patti that brought a great three berry cake. Thanks to Shannon, Brianna and CJ, Paulo, Nathan, Abraham and all yours friends. Thank you Nat, Charlie, Adrianne, Vittorio, Daniele for your sympathy and thank also to all the other people (friends of friend) of which we don’t know the name! Thanks Brent and Max, Simon, Noe, Rebecca and all the neighbors that came at the barbecue and last but not least, Kaine (George’s dog).

A special special thanks to MAESTRO, that after the barbecue gave us an unforgettable night in the spirit of the music… AMAZING

Fabulous day with fabulous people!