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The Unbuilt Projects of Detroit


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Here is a long article that was published in 1991 about the various proposals that were never built in Detroit. It's extremely interesting. If all these had been built, Detroit would be like Chicago! The articles are available for download, but are in 4 separate parts. These are definately worth looking at :)

Link to Download "Unbuilt Detroit"

Unbuilt Detroit

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Ok, here are just some of Detroit's unbuilt projects.

Look at the Book Tower towards the left. It would've been 81 stories, but the Depression killed the project :(. It would've been the world's tallest building upon its completion.


The Ren Cen & the area that will soon become River East





Western edge of downtown


Cobo Center


Fisher Building. The building there today is only one of the 3 sections that were originally supposed to be built. The middle section was supposed to have been nearly as tall as the ESB. Unfortunately the Depression killed this project as well.


Midtown Detroit


Book Tower



Center City Building


The Unbuilt CBD



2. Shelby Place, 1988. Rossetti Associates. Floated by developer John Madden, 23-story luxury hotel straddling Shelby bet. Congress and Larned.

4. Americanada Center, late 80's. Rossetti Associates. A hotel tower blended with twin office towers with a common lobby & retail level at ground floor.

9. Federal Courthouse, late 70's. Rossetti Assoc.

10. Lafayette Bldg Renovation, 1985. Harley, Ellington, Pierce, Yee & Associates. Would have involved an entirely new skin, complete with a glass atrium.

11. City Center Tower, 1989. Minoru Yamasaki & Assoc. Proposed by Troy developers Kirco Realty & Development for Kennedy Square.

16. Wayne County Courthouse, 1978. William Kessler & Assoc. A feasibility study done for the county.

18. Two Detroit Center, 1989. John Burgee Architects.

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Here's some more:

The Unbuilt Riverfront




2. Civic Center Plan, 1924. Eliel Saarinen. Was to include a domed memorial hall, a soaring tower, and an exposition hall and convention center. Voters went for it in a big way, but the depression hit before much could be done.

4. Comerica HQ, 1990, Cesar Pelli. Was to be built on the site of Ford Auditorium.

Unbuilt Portions of the Ren Cen, 1970

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Yeah, I know. Only one project on this list ever got built....one block south of its original location. The Depression stopped all the major projects from happening in the 1930s. And then in the 1990s the recession stopped all those projects too. Detroit really could use a new tower, but with office vacancy rates as high as they are, I don't see that happening any time soon. I'd have to say a new office tower is at least 10 years down the road. A residential tower might come sooner, but I think it's important to fill up all the vacant buildings with apartments & condos first.

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  • 2 months later...

Wow! Detroit really needed to build most of those. It would have been an incredible city if those were completed.

Yeah. There are some awesome projects in there. Perhaps my favorite were the plans 1920s plans for a civic center along the riverfront. My second most favorite plan was for the Book Tower, which unfortunately got killed by the Depression. Still, there are some projects that I'm glad did not happen, such as turning Woodward Avenue into a pedestrian mall.

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Yeah. Some people had some rather extreme visions for the city. There were some great plans that never materialized, however. Fortunately downtown is rebounding, and all the old abandoned building are being renovated. Then we just have to concentrate on filling up all the surface lots with new buildings.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Yeah, apparently the webmaster didn't like the fact that people kept posting the link to the download all over the internet. I have it saved on my computer, so email me if you want me to send the files to you.

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