Preserve Summer Lines

July 7, 2008

Presenting Preserve Industries first official line of Clothing and Products….

Check out our Store to see what is available!

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With I-75 undergoing some major surgery downtown, there is no better time to analyze the development of Detroit’s most vibrant commercial district. Early last month the Eastern Market Corporation released an economical development plan analyzing the needs and possibilities of the district. The plan outlines a series of actions in which the Market should take to improve it’s economical status, including obvious building maintenance all the way to a more ambitious plan for live/work developments.

Most importantly, the plan hits on the current traffic and parking situation which is prohibiting the market from developing further and hindering it’s success. With trucks, cars, bikes, and pedestrians all intersecting, traffic is dramatically deterred and accidents are inevitable. The report proposes a really nice system of street parking, truck routes, signage, and improved sidewalks to combat this issue. With better traffic flow and designations, businesses can expand, new businesses can be attracted, and more customers can be attracted to the market space.

In addition to traffic, the report suggests turning a series of old industrial buildings to the north of the market into live/work, multi-use spaces. This starts to hint on something great, the idea of live/work space and the reuse of existing structures. These are two sustainable concepts that fit very well within the Preserve values and the idea that one should use what is available. Though the current street and traffic conditions in this area are not conducive to inviting developers or rouge entrepreneurs as sidewalks are decrepit and without lighting, and streets are poorly labeled and uninviting. Before this area can reach it’s livable potential, the street environment needs to be greatly improved.

As far as structuring the district goes, the proposal includes the adjustment of Russel and Wilkins as the main axis of the market. Russel is already considered the main drag while Wilkins, running perpendicular, goes virtually unnoticed. Wilkins has great potential as it connects the market to neighborhoods to the north and south of the market. Also, the plan creates a quite beautiful connection to the “Dequindre Cut.” Though the Cut has a long way to go before it is actually usable as a park, it is refreshing to know that thought was taken to address this path which could very well become a great asset for the city in the near future.

The most worrisome portion of this report was the proposal for housing and live work space to the north/east of the market. Though the plan in no way, shape or form defines a certain aesthetic for these neighborhoods, one can only conjure up images of the terrible developments of the recent past that fail horribly to address their site and social impacts. They tend to destroy the sense of place and turn great neighborhoods into placeless suburban subdivisions lined with siding and fake brick. Not only will these type of units fail miserably in this economy, they will also destroy the character and charm that makes Eastern Market so attractive and appealing. It’s an experience that can’t be had in the suburbs, so don’t turn it into the suburbs. It’s giant colorful murals are playful and play beautifully with the gritty surroundings only to patina to a rich mix of raw materials and paint.

 

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Rather than just reputing the idea of a development, I decided to make an attempt at what a neighborhood might look like, that would both set an example for reuse, fit the context of Eastern Market, and draw people and attention to the city from not only the burbs but also the country, maybe the world.

Shigru Ban Nomatic Museum (Arch. League NYC)

(www.archleague.org)

In the end, the report inspired me and over the next few weeks I will be posting ideas and projects relating to the development of the Eastern Market neighborhood. To kick this off, I’ve posted a quick idea of what a container live/work neighborhood on Wilkins. See it here, and check back for more!

Our first architectural project has finally made it onto the website.  The Eastern Market Live/Work Neighborhood is a proposal built out of re-purposed shipping containers for one of Detroit’s most vibrant neighborhoods. Check it out on the Architecture page!

A New Economy

February 27, 2008

This is a brief I wrote a few weeks ago for a studio project, the remediation of the Ford Calumet site on the south side of Chicago. It reflects my belief in the handmade movement, and the regeneration of post industrial sites. I decided to post this after reading an article by the editor of Handmade Detroit discussing the possible effects of handmade goods on the poor Midwestern economy, read it here.

“A new economy. Over the past week, we’ve talked a lot about the auto industry, the global economy, and the need for transportation. We’ve talked about these things and how they’ve changed the landscape of America. We’ve talked about the negative effect they have had on the country, the environment, and the constituents of this great country. For too long, big corporations have been abandoning the American people, moving their factories over seas to exploit cheap labor markets, putting hundreds of thousands out of work here in America.

Instead of proposing a conduit for this global economy, and finding a way to further exploit the change in economy by leaching off it’s residual needs, I am proposing we cut against the grain and create a positive change for America. A new economy. based not on blind consumerism, or ridiculously cheap prices, but on well made, quality goods. This economy will not be based on how much a plastic cup can be made for in China, or how much it costs, both the consumer and the environment, to have it shipped 6000 miles. This economy won’t be based on polluting our country, polluting our air, polluting our work force with lack of jobs, disposable lifestyles, and planned obsolescent. This economy will be built for the people, by the people. A phrase stated many times in our great country yet is somehow always pushed aside by the all mighty dollar.

Ford Calumet, a 44,000 acre site in one of America’s most precious ecological corridors, is home to one of the largest automotive plants in America. It may come as no surprise that what used to be a land thriving with wildlife and wilderness has since been turned into a volatile land filled with contamination and plagued with 50 square miles worth of slag, asteel by product so cautiously placed on one of America’s most important ecologies. I’m kidding of course, caution would have been a waste of money… job loss created by closing automotive plants and steel yards has caused a tremendous strain on the local economy and the Calumet region has been in a steady decline for the last decade. Many have moved away to new jobs elsewhere and the remaining unemployed are not financially stable. This in turn takes it’s toll on local businesses as citizens buy less and less as money becomes tighter and tighter.

It’s easy to look at today’s global economy and find ways to fit in and make money off of it. It’s a more ambitious task to look at its shortcoming; it’s problems and propose solutions that will counter these problems. Ford Calumet has a large unemployed population, ecology in shambles, and an increasing number of abandoned structures. The global economy has had such an effect on America because companies are having their products made in China, where people will work for 1/10 of the cost, at an alarming rate. This is great for customers and corporations, who can provide products at a lower price, but it is homicidal to the working people of America. It will be important to look at how we can make things more cost effectively in terms of this project. How can we lower the cost of this project without cutting jobs and hurting the people?

It’s one thing to propose a new economy, but how does this new economy grow out of this 44,000 acre site? The future Ford Calumet will set an example for the rest of the United States. It will become a staple for the new American Economy. It will foster and raise this economy, showing America how we can work together, how to put this country back together again. As unemployment grows, and jobs increasingly require college degrees, the new economy will be built by those who don’t have the means to go to school. The new economy will teach people that you can be successful just by doing what you can, with what you have.

The new Ford Calumet will feature a revolutionary learning center that will teach skilled workers how to teach themselves rather than teaching them new skills to get a minimum wage job in another city. The learning center will focus on helping people learn to do what they want to do. There are millions of resources available on the Internet that can teach you how to do anything you want. By teaching citizens how to access these resources, we are cutting the cost of having teachers and classes to teach simple skills and allowing the number of people we can help to grow. The idea is that there is a growing amount of free information on the internet, rather than reiteration all this information on the form of classes, we’ll simply teach people how to access, and use this information to recreate themselves. The center will include a huge computer lab containing new computers running linux and web 2.0 free apps, thereby tripling the number of computers we can afford, and teaching citizens on a machine they could possibly afford.

With these newly self taught skills, citizens will be able to make things or provide qualities that are new, unique or better constructed than what is available. These new craftsmen will need an outlet so Ford Calumet will also create a market where locals can buy and shop for goods that are handmade, local, and well made. This will include everything from furniture, to objects, to locally grown foods. It will be a mall made of local goods. It will supplement the Learning Center by providing its users a place to start their business.

In addition to the learning center, old buildings on site will be retrofitted to serve as co-op studios where creators can make things and incubate their business. These studios will be low cost and allow for residents to work within the learning environment. This will allow those really in need to excl and immerse them in the learning process.

There will also be a co-op shop where numerous machines will be made available for residents and citizens to use. By providing this service to the community, residents can get their ideas off the ground and eventually afford their own equipment.

Since the remaining site is virtually unusable do to its toxicity, it will be remediate and eventually turned back into the habitat, which it was originally. The center will use all environmental options available to remediate the soil. This new landscape will show that you can take something that is wasted and ugly and turn it into something beautiful.

Area’s that contain large-scale equipment will be turned into recreation parks. Rather than destroying the machinery and sending it to waste, lets admire them and restore them as a form of public art. The large machines will stand as a monument to the history of the site as well as a reminder that though we’ve made mistakes in the past, they can be remedied.”

Hoodies

February 23, 2008

Our first item of clothing has finally made it onto the website.  The Preserve hoody, a classic piece of American culture.  Preserve takes a new look at the used hoody and how it might be renewed!  Check it out on the Clothing page!

Found Luggage

February 8, 2008

Today the first product hits the website. Preserve Luggage is a life of products Preserve has created using unwanted luggage from the last 50 years. Check it out on the Objects page!

Almost There…

January 9, 2008

Hello visitor,

We’re glad you found us but, as you can see, we’re still under construction. With high hopes and a little bit of work from us, we should be up and running in no time! Check back soon!

.Marc