Sasaki’s plan promotes the generation of ideas & the creation of a vibrant community
TechTown - an emerging knowledge district in Midtown Detroit - is currently characterised by surface parking, vacant properties, and inward-facing, siloed hubs of activity. The TechTown District Plan by Sasaki Associates, in collaboration with Midtown Detroit and U3, articulates an inspiring vision for the revitalization of the district. The plan accelerates innovation, promotes entrepreneurship, and builds community around the generation of ideas in a vibrant, mixed-use setting.
A key feature of the plan, and early action item, is a plaza at the heart of the district that contains a variety of program and design elements to foster creativity and the exchange of ideas throughout all seasons. Collaboration cubes, fabrication labs, a projection screen, climbing wall, fire pits, and a café with seating among a grove of trees attract knowledge and creative workers to the heart of the district.
The plaza will host events such as a 'maker’s fair' and 'hacker challenge' in the summer, while curling lanes and campfires activate the plaza during the winter. A community park and two additional plazas connected along landscaped corridors provide a range of amenities. This robust public realm framework and urban design strategy transforms parking lots and vacant sites into places for people to come together.
Environmental, economic, and cultural sustainability are foundational elements of the plan. Public open space improvements create a walkable district that reduces demand for parking, and provides access to new light rail transit. The plan contains an exercise circuit and integrated bicycle network. Landscape strategies include bioswales to enhance infiltration and reduce surface run off, while streetscape improvements increase pervious surfaces.
The plan preserves the district’s history and character through adaptive reuse of historic buildings. The team employed a variety of strategies to encourage participation in the TechTown planning process, including open forums, expert presentations, interactive games, and an online graphic survey.