DIA Plaza | Midtown Cultural Connections

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Detroit, Michigan, USA

In partnership with a comprehensive design team co-led by TENxTEN, MASS Design Group was one of three finalists for Midtown Cultural Connections and the Detroit Institute of the Arts (DIA) design competition for a cultural commons connecting 12 existing cultural and educational institutions.

Most narratives about Detroit reference the need to reawaken, revitalize, or renew the city, but that suggests that what was just needs to be rebuilt. Instead, our team’s approach was to “de-think” Detroit in order to overcome the physical and perceived barriers that are currently prohibiting Detroit’s largest concentration of anchor institutions from being a cohesive district. 

The proposal was organized around three strategies: “d.construct” car-centric infrastructure to create common, continuous spaces, “d.cipher” institutions by turning their programming inside out to foster new collaborative opportunities, and “d.light” the public’s experience through sensory landscape experiences and a cohesive interactive branding identity

Uniting these three strategies was a new park at the heart of the city, binding these 12 existing cultural amenities in one place. Embedded in this new landscape, we proposed two cultural pavilions, a centrally located public forum, two mixed-use development sites, a new DIA main lobby, and sensory gardens across the site. What results is a new public realm in the heart of the city that shares a newly united identity, inspiring new synergies across both individuals and institutions.

Project Details

42.3314, -83.0458

Location: Detroit, Michigan, USA

Year: 2018

Status: Completed

Size: Unbuilt

Program: Design competition for a “Cultural Commons,” linking over 12 cultural and educational institutions across Detroit

Services: Concept Competition

Midtown Cultural Connections, Detroit Institute of the Arts

Midtown Cultural Connections, Detroit Institute of the Arts, TEN x TEN, D MET, Local Projects, HR&A Advisors, Dr. Craig Wilkins, Atelier Ten, Wade Trim