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New link added to 50-mile Downriver Greenway

$800,000 in grants will pay for the latest link in a trail, which when completed, will be the largest greenway connector of Metroparks in Southeast Michigan. How long? Fifty miles!

The grants are earmarked for a 4-mile link to connect 24 miles of trails from Huron Park in Flat Rock to Oakwoods Metropark on the border of Belleville, making the entire Downriver Greenway a 50-mile path. The trail will take outdoor enthusiasts through trees, by waters, across open land, and more.

"It's huge. It traverses communities, historic areas, natural resources," Twardesky says. "People can use it to commute to work, schools, recreational facilities," says Anita Twardesky, co-chair of the Downriver Linked Greenways Initiative, a consortium of groups that have worked for at least a decade on projects from a vision to lay a continuous trail from the Detroit on the Detroit River DLGI.

More than being a nature-rich spot for walking, running, kayaking, fishing and more, the trail could draw visitors from around and outside the state, Twardesky says.

"Through these greenways we are starting to reinvent our region and look at it as a tourist opportunity," Twardesky says. "Basically from the City of Detroit, down to Monroe over I-275 I consider a hidden jewel within the state. There are lotus beds, sturgeon spawning in the Detroit river. History, Henry Ford's village in Flat Rock, the building of the Edmund Fitzgerald."

Making it possible are grants to the City of Flat Rock from the Michigan Department of Transportation and the Department of Natural Resources Trust Fund to the City of Flat Rock.

The longer-term goal is to connect the Downriver system of trails to Monroe and, finally and eventually, Toledo.

The newest link fulfills a dream of Metroparks planners going back to the 1940s for the park system to be linked. DLGI Co-Chair Mary Bohlng, a Michigan Sea Grant educator, and a number of nonprofits and governmental bodies have worked for at least a decade on creating the system.

"In just over 10 years, the Downriver community has come together to provide its residents with an impressive network of greenway trails," Congressman John D. Dingell says in a statement announcing the grants.  "These trails greatly improve the quality of life in the region by providing a means of transportation and an outdoor recreational activity."

Source: Anita Twardesky, co-chair of the Downriver Linked Greenways Initiative and public relations and marketing manager for Riverside Kayak
Writer: Kim North Shine

Virtual 8 Mile shows sky-high views of the 3D street-level

Technology and marketing are converging in a push to promote business, transportation, and commercial development along 8 Mile.

If Virtual 8 Mile, an application developed by the Eight Mile Boulevard Association and Plymouth-based Luna Tech Designs, goes as planned the 27-mile corridor can be viewed on a 3D virtual interface using Google Earth.

Ideally, visitors to the site can zoom in on member businesses, which also will get Google priority listings during searches for businesses of their type.

The $5,000 in funding for the application came from the Michigan Dept of Transportation.

Virtual 8 Mile will also show visitors development possibilities and real estate opportunities, including details and photos of available land and property, along the stretch of road that cuts through Wayne and Oakland counties.

In addition, the site shows improvement projects, including facade renovations and median gardens, and public transportation routes and other information that can make patronizing a business or starting one easier.

For a business such as the Belmont Shopping Center, which now is viewable by visitors, "it is another way to promote an existing tenant mix and is also a business attraction tool for vacancies," says Tami Salisbury, executive director of the 8 Mile Boulevard Association.

The 13 communities bordering the Eight Mile corridor, which spans Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties, stand to gain from increased exposure, Salisbury says.

"It really is a snapshot of 8 Mile, what's going on there and the potential that is there," Salisbury says.

In a larger sense, she says, the project helps the association in its mission to change the reputation, accurate or not, that 8 Mile Road is a has-been.

"It's equally as important to change the mental landscape as it is to change the physical landscape," Salisbury says. "We are changing mental perceptions people have of 8 Mile by showing them these physical transformations."

Source: Tami Salisbury, executive director, Eight Mile Boulevard Association
Writer: Kim North Shine

State grants enable dozens of Michigan schools to turn up solar and wind power

An innovative program that takes energy efficiency and renewable energy projects into Michigan schools is expanding, offering 90 new schools a share of $4.4 million.

Energy Works Michigan, an arm of the Ann Arbor-based Ecology Center, awarded its first round of $3.5 million in Michigan Renewable Schools grants in November 2009 and will distribute the next round in September to schools that are selected as good candidates to undergo energy efficiency audits and implement new energy programs. The next round will include colleges and universities, in addition to K-12 schools.

Winners use the money to cut energy costs, install solar and wind energy-generating systems, and to implement energy efficiency and renewable energy studies in the classroom. The outcome is not only energy savings but a decrease in emissions into the environment as well as educated students who ideally will change their energy consumption ways.

The Michigan Public Service Commission provides the money for what is seen as "a pretty unique program…There's not another organization doing this on a such a large scale," says Kendal Kuneman, project associate for Energy Works Michigan.

Energy Works Michigan administers the program that has its employees showing schools how to be more energy efficient, how to install solar panels or wind turbines and training teachers in renewable energy and energy efficiency curricula.

Currently 67 schools, including Allen Park Middle School, the Advanced Technology Academy in Dearborn, Pierce Middle School in Grosse Pointe Park, the South Lyon School District, and several Detroit Public Schools, including Cass Tech High School, are participating.

"All of the projects are currently being wrapped up. Most are completed by now," Kuneman says. Experience from those projects will be used to make the next phase of the project even more effective, she says.

The grants help pay to send engineers into schools to identify energy waste and show the schools how to correct it. Once a school is deemed energy efficient, it can choose to install a small, medium, or large solar or wind energy generating system.

The schools provide matching money to their grants.

"We prioritize how to get a return on investment in 5-8 years," Kuneman says. "So schools are seeing some significant cost savings. Some are getting return in less than five years."

Source: Kendal Kuneman, project associate, Energy Works Michigan
Writer: Kim North Shine


Woodward Avenue gets 50 new signs, All American Road designation

More than 18 months of regional planning and state-local cooperation culminates this week with the installation of federal All American Road signs along a 27-mile stretch of Woodward Avenue.

A total of 50 signs worth $45,000 will be installed as part of the 2009 All American Road project, a U.S. Dept of Transportation program that awards funding for roadways deemed worthy of distinction and therefore dollars that make the roadways more appealing, useful, recognizable and memorable. Many such roadways around the country have been deemed scenic parkways, historic routes and such. The majority of Woodward signs will be installed this week by the Michigan Dept of Transportation (MDOT) with a few not coming until spring.

Royal Oak-based WA3, the Woodward Avenue Action Association, is the local administrator of the program and worked with MDOT, all cities along the route, and DTE on the best placement and process for the sign installation

"The intent is to really bring awareness that this is an exclusive and important designation so that when visitors are here they say, 'Wow I've seen that in other parts of America,' and they understand this is an important part of history," says Heather Carmona, executive director of WA3.

"They're very different signs, not your typical MDOT road sign...It was a long process, 18-20 months. It was very challenging to get these different signs, but MDOT was very accommodating," Carmona says. "We were able to do something that was outside of the box and get something that was eye catching and appealing and safe."

A prototype sign is located at McDonald's on Woodward near 13 Mile.

Of the 50 signs, 23 will be installed in Detroit. The remainder run north through Oakland County communities.

Source: Heather Carmona, executive director of the Woodward Avenue Action Association
Writer: Kim North Shine

Case for Detroit light rail grows with $25M federal grant, 23% growth in Amtrak ridership

A system of regional mass transit in southeast Michigan has moved further down the track thanks to a $25 million federal grant and an Amtrak ridership survey that shows the number of train commuters continues to increase.


"I believe that southeast Michigan is as close as it has ever been to implementing higher levels of transit," says Carmine Palombo, transportation director for SEMCOG, the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments. 


He says SEMCOG and the Michigan Department of Transportation "continue moving forward on the commuter rail project from Ann Arbor to Detroit. Amtrak ridership on the Pontiac to Chicago line is up significantly. These are all positive signs that could lead to enhanced transit being in our future in the not too distant future."


The positive prognosis comes after the award of a $25 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation for the building of the Detroit Light Rail Line. The grant comes from the Transportation Investment Generating Recovery - TIGER, a program of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act. 


The first phase is the construction of a light rail line that runs 3.4 miles along Woodward and has 12 stations connecting downtown Detroit to Grand Blvd in the New Center area. The second phase would extend the light rail line 5.9 miles from Grand Blvd to 8 Mile Road near the Michigan State fairgrounds.


Separately, according to a report from the Michigan Dept of Transportation (MDOT), Amtrak ridership and ticket revenue increased again.


From October to December, 130,683 passengers took trains on the Pontiac/Detroit-Chicago corridor -- or Wolverine line -- for an increase of 22.7 percent from a year ago. Ticket revenue increased 26 percent to $4,949,889, according to MDOT. Ridership and revenue also increased on the Blue Water train that goes between Port Huron and East Lansing and the Pere Marquette line between Grand Rapids and Chicago. 


Janet Foran, a spokesperson for MDOT, which helps fund the Pere Marquette and Blue Water lines, says "certainly there is a lot more effort in southeast Michigan to get new projects off to a start, one being the Woodward light rail line…Clearly there is much more defined interest train travel."


Palombo and Foran say, as always, funding will have to follow the interest.



Source: Carmine Palombo, director of transportation for SEMCOG and Janet Foran, spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Transportation

Writer: Kim North Shine


Streetscape grants from Royal Oak's WA3 help unify Woodward Corridor

Five cities and communities with Woodward Avenue as their spine now have money to spend on projects to make their street fronts more appealing, inviting and useful.

The money, $53,000 split among them, comes from the
Woodward Avenue Action Association (WA3) via Federal Highway Administration Scenic Byway funds. WA3, a Royal Oak-based economic and community development organization with the mission of improving the visual, economic, function and historical character of the 27-mile long avenue, hands out the grants as part of its Streetscape Grant Program.

The 2010 recipients run from Detroit north through Oakland County and up to Berkley. In 2009, WA3 awarded $118,000 in mini grants.

"We're looking for areas that can enhance Woodward as an entire corridor and also help communities fulfill their individual goals," says Heather Carmona, executive director of WA3. The projects are not only aesthetic but practical, she says.

And the added bonus is that the grants bring federal tax dollars back home. Woodward Avenue, a history-rich and storied thruway, is designated an All-American Road, making it eligible for the funding.

The allocations were:
  • City of Berkley - $8,000 for median improvements
  • Ferndale Downtown Development Authority - $10,000 for Wayfinding Kiosks, high-tech, outdoor directories
  • Arden Park-East Boston Historic District - $7,000 for historic entry grates
  • The Park District (between 6 and 8 Mile roads) - $5,000 for beautification
  • South Oakland county - $13,000 for median improvements
The program provides a simplified process to generate physical improvements for Woodward as a connected region by celebrating and promoting the byway and the communities it runs through.

Source: Heather Carmona, executive director, Woodward Avenue Action Association
Writer: Kim North Shine

Chug no more: $150 million for regional high-speed rail

Michigan will be receiving $150 million to help develop a high-speed rail corridor between Kalamazoo and Dearborn.

News came out Monday that the High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Grant Program will be awarding the money, along with a $3.2 million planning grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation. Michigan has the existing rail lines from Chicago to Detroit, but is lacking the upgrades to get the trains up to a higher speed.

Although it won't be announced until today as to how the $150 million will be allocated, Carmine Palombo, transportation director for the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments, says the announcement was great news overall. "Being able to make that sort of investment in that high-speed rail corridor is great," he says.

Among the beneficiaries will be Amtrak and freight rail, but also everyone trying to establish a commuter rail service between Detroit and Ann Arbor, too. One project that was identified as necessary was the connection west of Detroit, where there is consistently a bottleneck between usage of the track by freight and passenger services. Fixing that alone would take about 5-7 minutes off the time between Detroit and Ann Arbor, Palombo says.

"That's a pretty good chunk of time that would be saved as a result of this project," he says.

It was also announced in January that Michigan will be receiving $40 million for train station development.

Source: Carmine Palombo, transportation director for SEMCOG
Writer: Kristin Lukowski

SEMCOG receives Green Streets grant to manage runoff

The Southeast Michigan Council of Governments is one of several agencies that will receive grant funding to help clean and protect the Great Lakes.

SEMCOG will be awarded $500,000 for its Restoring the Lake Erie Corridor Through Green Streets program, which will be used to construct bioswales, tree trenches, and grow zones to manage stormwater runoff. The funds will also go toward reducing stormwater runoff volumes and sediment, the development of a Great Lakes Green Streets Guidebook, and installation of signage.

Amy Mangus, SEMCOG's coordinator of environmental programs, explains that our roads are one of the region's largest impervious surfaces, so managing stormwater runoff is important. "Stormwater runoff is the No. 1 pollutant source to our rivers and lakes, and if we all enjoy recreating in our rivers and lakes, we need to keep the pollution out," she says.

One project to which SEMCOG will be passing funding will be a bioswale, similar to a ditch but with vegetation, into which stormwater will be directed. Also slated for funding are grow zones in Wayne County, similar to areas of vegetation that filter stormwater runoff along Hines Drive.

The grow zones and bioswales replicate nature, acting like a natural filter before the water seeps back into the ground. "It's all about trying to bring back the balance of nature into a more urban area," she says. "The purpose is to protect our rivers and lakes so we can enjoy them and recreate in them."

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced the grants as part of President Obama's $475 million Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. A total of 99 grants for an estimated $63 million are expected to be awarded in Michigan; locally, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment and Wayne State University will also be receiving funding. Priorities are cleaning up toxic material, combating invasive species, protecting watersheds, restoring wetlands, and outreach.

Source: Amy Mangus, SEMCOG's coordinator of environmental programs
Writer: Kristin Lukowski

WA3 offers streetscape grants to improve Woodward corridor

The Woodward Avenue Action Association has $40,000 to give away in mini-grants for benches, signage, crosswalks, or other projects that will improve the region's M-1 corridor.

The 2010 Woodward Avenue Action Association Streetscape Grant Program funds, provided through the Federal Highway National Scenic Byway program, will be awarded in amounts of $5,000 to $15,000 depending on the project. Different this year is that funding can be used for implementation of the plans, a request WA3 had heard from applicants previously, says WA3 outreach and promotions coordinator Nicole Brown.

The projects could include everything from a welcome sign to a particular neighborhood, or adding benches and trash cans to a downtown. "It's the small things that really enhance a community's image and make it more livable," Brown says.

The deadline is Nov. 15, and groups who plan on applying do have to meet with the association. Eligible applicants include the cities, townships, and counties along Woodward Avenue, nonprofit venues, district organizations, and chambers of commerce.

"We are excited to see what these groups are eager to have funded," Brown says. "And, we're really excited to see the final impact this project will have on the community, particularly because it takes it from being just a design element to actual implementation, so members of the community can see their dollars at work."

Applications are available here or by calling (248) 288-2004.

Source: Nicole Brown, outreach and promotions coordinator, Woodward Avenue Action Association
Writer: Kristin Lukowski

Detroit Mayor Bing, local leaders to speak on mass transit, urban vitality

Trucks, trains, boats, and planes are all important to sustainability, and a symposium at University of Detroit Mercy tonight will discuss that.

"Riding Trucks, Trains, Boats, and Planes to Urban Vitality," presented by the university's College of Engineering and Science and its School of Architecture, is the theme for the 2010 Designing Sustainable Detroit Symposium. Detroit's mayor and other business leaders are expected to participate in the symposium, scheduled for 6 p.m. tonight in the Fountain Lounge, on the university's McNichols Campus.

Up for discussion is how transportation initiatives bring about economic development, job creation, and livability to Detroit. Speakers include David Bing, Detroit mayor; Matthew Cullen, president of the board of M1 Rail; Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano; and Melissa Roy, senior director of transportation policy and government relations for the Detroit Regional Chamber.

Leo Hanifin, dean of the College of Engineering and Science at UD-Mercy and director of the Michigan and Ohio University Transportation Center, will moderate the gathering. "I think transportation systems have enormous potential for stimulating economic development, making the city more livable -- everything from jobs, entertainment, health care, education," he says. "There's a lot of different impacts."

Other cities, specifically Portland, Ore., have used light-rail transit as a driver for transit-oriented development. Portland put in a three-mile route downtown for $100 million, and within seven years had $3 billion worth of investment within two or three blocks of the system's route. "They realize that once people start circulating on this transit system, they stop, and they shop, and they eat and they drink, and they do all the things that people do in a vibrant city," he says.

The foundations for light rail exist in Detroit, Hanifin says, and he's confident it will eventually come to the city. "It's also very attractive to the young creative class that we want to retain," he adds. "They like that kind of transportation, they like that kind of environment that springs up around light rail."

In addition to transit-oriented development, also to be discussed are The Detroit Aerotropolis Initiative and Detroit's TranslinkeD Strategy, which identifies key projects to stimulate economic development and help the area serve as a port for global trade.

RSVP for the free event at (313) 993-1540 or click here.

Source: Leo Hanifin, dean of the College of Engineering and Science at the University of Detroit-Mercy
Writer: Jon Zemke

Pontiac, Detroit to make mini-parks out of parking spots

Parking spot enjoyment has taken off in Grand Rapids and other big cities across the nation and world, and now Sean Mann wants to get people loving parking in southeast Michigan.

Parking should be appreciated not just because you grab the space right in front of the coffee shop, either. Park(ing) Day encourages people to make a mini-park out of a metered spot for one day -- Sept. 17 this year -- to celebrate public spaces with friends.

Sean Mann, founder and program coordinator of Let's Save Michigan, a project of the Michigan Municipal League, says a few communities in southeast Michigan, including Pontiac, Detroit, Ann Arbor, and Ypsilanti, and also in Lansing, Grand Rapids, and Traverse City, will likely be participating in this quirky day of awareness. There's still plenty of time to sign up, and parking spots don't need an elaborate makeover. A couple of lawn chairs and a potted plant will do.

With graduates fleeing the state, oftentimes what they're looking for is a better quality of life above jobs -- and that includes public places. "It's a fun way to highlight bringing people together to show they can create those places," Mann mentions. "Our whole campaign is about moving Michigan forward."

The end-of-summer event also allows for one last (hopefully) warm-weather celebration before the mitten state gets cold and dark.

Click here to learn more or to sign up.

Source: Sean Mann, Let's Save Michigan, founder and program coordinator
Writer: Kristin Lukowski

Inkster, Ypsilanti, Detroit, I-275 trail score pedestrian grants

It's all about the infrastructure. Not only will Inkster build a streetscape project and Detroit a walk/bike path, but because of state and federal grant money, portions of the I-275 Metro Trail will be also be reconstructed. Ypsi even got a slice of the community improvement pie.

The Michigan Department of Transportation announced the federal Transportation Enhancement grants Tuesday, for which Inkster will receive almost $600,000 in state and federal funding for a planned streetscape project. The intersection of Michigan Avenue (US-12) and Inkster Road will be improved about a block in all four directions, with decorative brick pillars, fencing, benches, decorate stamped concrete, and landscaping.

Kimberly Faison, special projects manager for the city of Inkster, says the project will help to define the city’s downtown, at that intersection, with an emphasis on trees, shrubs and perennials. And with traffic whizzing by on Michigan Avenue, "Sometimes our downtown gets missed, especially with the speed," she says. "Our residents have a lot of pride in the community."

The city has also acquired three easements in that area, which will be made into a green space, which will include seating areas.

Improvements done last year, including ramps and cross lights at pedestrian intersections, make the area more walkable, she says, while the streetscape is also expected to help calm traffic. Bus shelters are also a part of the expanded project, and the city hopes to receive future funding for a greenways project down the line.

Faison says Inkster's residents know the city has businesses worth visiting and space worthy of being rehabilitated and reoccupied, and this will help put them on the map. "The project really is exciting for us," she says. "We see this as a shot in the arm."

Elsewhere in the metro area, Detroit will get funding for a nearly 1-mile portion of the Connor Creek Greenway, to include a bike/walk path, seating areas and trees. Eighty percent of the $358,376 will be covered by federal funds, with the rest made up by a match from the city.

Portions of the I-275 Metro Trail, in Canton Township, Van Buren Township, and Romulus, will also be rehabilitated, including the addition of a boardwalk over wetlands and signage. That project is nearly $4 million, covered by federal and state funding.

Finally, Ypsilanti also received a grant for streetscape projects.

Statewide, a total of $10 million was awarded to 11 counties for non-motorized trail improvements, roadway streetscape, parks and water quality.

Source: Kimberly Faison, special projects manager, city of Inkster; Michigan Department of Transportation
Writer: Kristin Lukowski

Pontiac unveils latest Woodward Tribute sculpture

A tribute sculpture commemorating Pontiac's role in the history of Woodward Avenue is to be fully in place today, with a celebration planned for next week.

The Pontiac Tribute, the second such monument along Woodward, was installed last month to raise awareness about the history behind Michigan's Main Street and its importance to not only the state but the U.S. and the world. The sculptures are robust columns that depict part of Woodward's history. Ferndale's was installed in 2008.

The final touches on the sculpture are expected to be put in place today. It will also be absorbing light so it can be turned on, says Nicole Brown, outreach and promotions coordinator for the Woodward Avenue Action Association, the organization behind the effort. "The significance of it in Pontiac is celebrating transportation heritage," she says.

The tribute came about as a result of a lot of hard work, Brown says, and a laundry list of supporters and sponsors, including the city of Pontiac, Oakland County, and the Michigan Department of Transportation. "People are really excited about it," Brown says. "It's something positive that's happening in the city of Pontiac. It's been received really well, from residents and members of the business community."

Pontiac's Tribute is at the corner of Woodward and Whitmore, in the area commonly known as the "teardrop." Negotiations are currently ongoing with Detroit for its tribute, with an announcement expected later this year about its location. The ultimate goal is to have one for each city along Woodward to recognize each of their unique contributions.

The Pontiac Tribute's $150,000 price tag was funded in part by the U.S. Federal Highway Administration's National Scenic Byways funds and other contributors.

WA3 and the city of Pontiac are hosting a public tribute illumination reception on Wednesday; click here for details.

Source: Nicole Brown, outreach and promotions coordinator for the Woodward Avenue Action Association
Writer: Kristin Lukowski

Detroit Edison to build 500-kw solar system at Monroe County Comm College

Monroe County Community College will soon be home to a 500-kilowatt, $3-million photovoltaic renewable energy system to benefit both the college and customers of Detroit Edison.

The 20-year agreement will not only provide the utility's customers with renewable energy from the sun, but also give students at MCCC a chance to see live and up close just how renewable energy works. "We're supporting the educational initiatives of the college," says Detroit Edison marketing program manager Ray Zoia. "We're going to be providing them with access to the facility, for the purpose of educating students."

He also expects there will be a kiosk of information so students can see how the system works, how much energy it's generating, and other details. MCCC's system will generate enough energy to power about 100 homes in a year.

The system will be installed on the east side of campus and should be up and running by spring. It's part of Detroit Edison's pilot SolarCurrents program, which calls for photovoltaic systems to be installed on customer property or rooftops over the next five years. The goal is to generate 15 megawatts of electricity throughout Southeast Michigan.

The utility-owned energy program is new, but it's part of the overall renewable energy program that all utilities have to invest in. Zoia says the utility has funding for about 40-50 projects over the next five years through surcharges on customer bills for the purpose of renewable energy.

"This is part of our commitment to renewable energy," says media relations representative Len Singer. "The solar program is fairly new, but it's really encouraging to be seeing the kind of response that we're getting to be able to move forward."

Detroit Edison, a a subsidiary of DTE Energy, also recently announced that it is planning to build a 200-kilowatt, $1 million solar installation on the roof of a Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan parking structure in downtown Detroit.

In return for providing space for the utility-owned system, customers will get an annual payment or credit on their energy bill based on the system size, as well as a one-time, upfront construction payment to cover any inconvenience during installation.

Source: Ray Zoia, Detroit Edison marketing program manager
Writer: Kristin Lukowski

Numerous construction projects recognized with Engineering Society of Detroit awards

Social significance and innovation are part of what made several local construction projects stand out enough that they were recognized by the Engineering Society of Detroit.

The Construction and Design awards are awarded annually to projects either located in Michigan or built by local companies. The projects were selected based on the quality of the overall design; use of unique engineering solutions; innovative construction techniques and sustainable design; use of environmentally safe products; and economic and social impact.

In the metro area, award recipients were the College for Creative Studies'
Alfred Taubman Center for Design Education (Detroit) and JARC's Nusbaum House (Farmington Hills), a group home for adults with disabilities. Robert Stevenson, chair of the committee in charge of selecting the winners and senior vice-president of GHAFARI Associates, says CCS's building was socially significant because of its location in Detroit and the schools involved. "From a design standpoint, it was well done," he says. "Some of the things they did were interesting, like how they brought in light, how they handled utilities."

Recognized with honorable mentions were
Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital and Wayne State University's Marvin I. Danto Engineering Development Center in Detroit. Wayne State's engineering building includes outdoor walls that actually lean inward from the top down, but Stevenson says what also makes that building interesting is its housing of high-tech testing. "It's important because it's an important research center here in southeast Michigan," he says. "And then to put that on a college campus and make it look good -- we thought that was a challenge."

Winners from the last few years have had a focus on green and sustainable features. Since the awards are given by a peer group of other architects, that will hopefully foster more innovation, Stevenson says. Teamwork also plays a large part, and that's why the owner, contractor, and designer are all recognized. "We're not an (American Institute of Architects) award -- it's not a beauty contest," he says. "We're looking beyond the skin."

Source: Robert Stevenson, Engineering Society of Detroit award committee chair
Writer: Kristin Lukowski
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