A couple of chance conversations have led Lawrence Technological University, its students, its faculty and its staff into a long-term project to produce ideas for improving Detroit’s Old Redford neighborhood on the city's northwest side.
The first fruits of that project will be showcased Thursday from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the historic Redford Theatre, 17360 Lahser Road, at the corner of Grand River Avenue.
“Old Redford, New Redford: Neighborhood Narratives” represents the work of 11 LTU architecture students who spent the spring semester in a studio class studying the neighborhood and speaking to area residents, business owners, and other stakeholders, and have come up with community-based plans and priorities for improving it. Anirban Adhya, associate professor of architecture and urban design at LTU, taught the class.
“This all started as a discussion between Karl Daubmann, our dean of architecture and design, about my passion for urban design and placemaking,” Adhya said. “I had just published a book on inner-ring suburbs.” (“Shrinking Cities and First Suburbs: The Case of Detroit and Warren, Michigan,” was published in 2017.)
Daubmann got Adhya in touch with Lisa Grace, major gifts officer in the LTU Office of University Advancement, “to talk about grants for placemaking.” Turned out that Grace is also a volunteer at the Redford Theatre – so “we started talking about improving the theater and the surrounding neighborhood. I started thinking this would be a good project for our junior year design studio studying urban architecture.”
The ideas being presented Thursday night are the result of that collaboration with the theater, neighborhood residents, and neighborhood businesses and organizations.
“What we are really passionate about and proud of is the student work,” Adhya said. “Not only is it intended to make the neighborhood more attractive and a magnet for visitors and new residents, but we want to contribute to the quality of the everyday lives of the people who already live there.”
The presentation will feature an analysis of neighborhood assets and challenges, mapping and place-planning of those conditions, focus areas for priority projects, and a vision for continuing community engagement.
Thursday night’s event is free and open to the public in the Redford Theatre’s meeting room.