What if UM had remained in Detroit?

The Campus Vertical File - Tyler Schaafsma

The Campus Vertical File imagines that the University of Michigan expanded from its original site in downtown Detroit up Woodward Avenue as it grew. The focal point of the plan is a recognizable version of campus centered around Cass Park. The land for this urban campus would have been donated by Lewis Cass, Augustus Woodward, and Edmund Brush, all early supporters of the University and pivotal figures in Detroit’s nineteenth-century development. In this parallel universe, the Cass Corridor and Brush Park retained their population density and I-75 never severed circulation in the central business district. The Campus Vertical File is a building as archive; a collection of preserved historic fragments, research collections, and public spaces, which act as a living time capsule of UM. The structure plays the role of both preservationist and provocateur, maintaining ephemeral traces of history and projecting UM as a self-conscious slice of the academic world engaging actively with the urban history of Detroit.


Floating Fragments - Qianmo Sha

Urban campuses often function as independent districts that are bounded and differentiated from the surrounding city. To propose an island campus that floats in the Detroit River intensifies this sense of isolation and detachment from the city. This island, a free and international university in between the United States and Canada also suggests numerous cultural and political possibilities. The plan of the island was generated by overlaying the grid of early fishing territories and the 1805 Woodward Plan. Each part of the island is separate from the others and bears resemblance to a ship—they can break apart, be towed along the river, pull into docks, and be re-assembled again. This variability and mobility allow the island to play multiple roles, challenging preconceptions of what a urban university can be.


Where Are The Fantastic Beasts? - Irene Wanqui Yang

This project investigates the current array of abandoned or fragmentary places in downtown and suburban Detroit, as well as the city’s economic potential in the larger region. As an important link in North American animal migration routes, Detroit tries to distribute resources between humans, animals, the existing city, and the natural environment. The University of Michigan becomes a mediator between wilderness and the city, providing new infrastructure to an aging urban context and creating spaces of a hybrid industrial-natural character across the campus.


The Reclamation of Detroit's Public Land - Christian Coles

This project proposes a scenario in which Detroit’s residents reclaim the land that was taken away in 1964 by the controversial installation of the I-375 freeway. In order to accommodate automobile infrastructure, I-375 cut through a large swath of downtown Detroit and led to the demolition of Paradise Valley, once a hub of economic activity for the city’s African American community. This project envisions a redemptive process by which the city removes the freeway and utilizes its infrastructure to service public spaces such as plazas, commercial areas, a soccer stadium, and facilities for use in a public university. University of Michigan, still located in Detroit, expands its campus to the former Paradise Valley region.