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wolverine

$100 million FBI office to rise in Corktown

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Here's an article, with a rendering showing the new FBI building in Detroit. The vacant executive plaza (20 and 11) story towers will be demoed to make way for the new building

Basically, two very uninspring towers will be leveled for a large uninspring midrise structure.

http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/artic.../705070395/1003

I expected it to be in the middle of a grassy open space, but the building looks boring as hell. I've seen some pretty nice government buildings going up across the nation that at least wow you, even if they are far form the road. Furthemore, by angling an entire wall, this building declares itself as a suburban structure. Oh well, at least there will be a nice fence around the whole thing.

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I'm mixed on the thing. While the largest part of this 11 acres is actually a pair of [email protected] parking lots, another superblock is being created. I really don't see why they couldn't have, at least, reused the 22-story tower, which is only 35 years old, and with modern floor plates very attractive for modern office usage.

I do like the fact that they are consolidating parking, in the area, which means this thing won't be surrounded by parking as I'd orginally imagined, but it will still function as a suburban office park.

As for the looks, I really care much more about the function of the property than the design, but it does look at dull as dishwater. It makes One Kennedy Square look like the Guardian Building, in comparison.

I like the greenspace, and how they used it as the security buffer, instead of having a parking lot surrounded by barbed-wire fencing (which is what I imagined), but this is such a gross underuse of space.

As you can see, I don't really know what to feel about this one. lol Maybe, I would have overlooked the shortcomings if they'd, at least, made it as tall as what they were demolishing. I just hate to keep seeing Detroit's skyline disappearing, and this particular location really sticks out when viewed from the north and south.

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I think the issue with security has to do having more people closer to the ground. If disaster strikes midway up the tower, the people on the upper floors may have difficulty getting to the lower floors. I guess tall structures don't work for FBI buildings and I can understand that. It's just the design is so boring. This building should have set a new standard in innovative security strategies/mechanisms in architecture as well as sustainability. To top it off, the opportunity is presented where this building sits far back enough from the road to make a statement and be memorable, however it appears it isn't from the rendering.

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I didn't think height was much of a factor for them, rather it was preventing people from getting in in the first place (i.e. berms, walls, fencing...).

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Nah, its just in the event of emergency, it's harder to vacate a taller building.

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Is this for real. They have been in McNamara for decades and nothing has happened. This whole security thing is getting out of hand. The IRS and other police headquarters are not diffrent than the FBI and they're still in normal buildings that don't have set backs and other schitt. They could have bought their current headquarters and built a better security system (like fences, etc.) rather than spend tens of millions to turn part of Corktown into Troy.

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I think you guys are being to negative about it, its a brand new modern building for detroit and the city needs all of those it can get right now

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This isn't directed solely at you, DetroitCity, but I'm really tried of hearing the mantra and talking points that "all development is good" and "this is a brand new building" as if 'new' always means 'better'.

Fact: A 600,000+ square foot, 35 year old, 22 and 11-story facility already exists, on site, with modern floorplates.

Fact: Corktown does not see any gains from this from an urban perspective. It's yet another superblock, and a walled-off, bermed-off 11 acre facility, at that.

Fact: This further helps cut off Corktown by taking out 2 blocks of Brooklyn Street, and everything to the north from the riverfront; exactly what the city says that it is against in the redevelopment of the riverfront both the near west and near east riverfronts.

Perhaps, I could respect an argument that this is a fair trade off, or that it's not as terrible as some may make it out to be. At least, it's one I think can be a legitimate debate. But, to even imply that not only is this a fair trade off, but that something is gained with the positives outweighing the negatives, is just ridiculous. The only advantage I can see coming from this is that you have a new, occupied, fully taxable structure unlike the empty Executive Plaza. But, that is the only gain, here, and in no way outweighs the negatives of this project. This is a gross misuse of prime land, AT BEST.

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I still don't understand why this thing has to go in Corktown...it does nothing for the Corktown neighborhood. I couldn't think of a much worse spot to put yet another superblock development. Put it over by the new Federal Reserve Branch or something. I'm sure the feds don't even care that their ugly new superblock development is going in Detroit's oldest neighborhood. The easily-acquired land probably sealed the deal.

Oh well, in 30 years this new crappy building will have deteriorated so much that it'll have to be replaced, and then we can rid Corktown of this eyesore.

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LMich, I agree with you on your point that this is a waste of modern office space. However, realize that this case is unique where you have a highly specialized facility that requires a particular layout for the upmost security and efficiency. This isn't like big company A or small company B or even some other government entity filling the space out as best they can. Certain tenants may require a very large floor plate because of the way they are departmentalized. But for anything else, I agree with you 100%

But, I want to know if I'm right about something, cause I have the impression that I'm thinking crazy over at Dyes. Honestly, am I right that this new campus isn't going to do much for the Corktown area except have "pretty grass and trees?" It's barely in Corktown first of all. The paper only mentions that because it's just across the freeway from the downtown. What do the residents care about a new FBI facility? What could this possibly give back to the community? The parking lots did a hell of alot more, or at least had the potential to be developed into something else that would CONTRIBUTE to Corktown. I don't believe a building is good development just because it looks nice.

Let me say that this building does not look nice for downtown Detroit. Maybe for Atlanta......

As for pepole working downtown? It's worse in this case. The building promotes staying in at lunch, not setting foot outside, so forget about area business.

The people who state this is a good development ARE NOT backing it up with a good enough argument, or at least they are not doing their research correctly.

This whole project is about reshuffling workers around and leaving a lot of waste.

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I drove by the buildings today and I don't see why they have to be demolished. This is going on the vacant lot ACROSS (not on) from the former Michigan buildings, right? If so, why demolish them.

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Wolv,

You're not the only one, and that's kind of been my point, that you can't legitimately argue that this is somehow a plus for Corktown. It just isn't. The few positives just don't outweigh the negatives. And, again, for me, it's not really the design of the building(s), but the gross misuse of the land. I really couldn't care less what it looks like if they'd have found a more creative way to secure the building without sticking it in the middle of a HUGE 11 acre superblock. Like you said, you'd expect something like that in the downtown of a more sprawled city like Atlanta.

BTW, I do understand the security concerns, but I just can't get over the fact that they need to demolish the Executive Plaza. This structure isn't even being built on this site. IMO, they could have easily just purchased the two giant surface lots, and left the Executive Plaza well enough alone for a possible future renovation. Now, the Executive Plaza is just going to be a grass field. The whole size of the surrounding greens just looks so unreasonable. This security measure could have been secured with much less land, and I know this for a fact because the new Michigan State Police Headquarters to be built here in downtown Lansing is built right to the street corner at a very prominent corner. What they've chosen to do is to make a thick concrete wall sort of like what they've done around the McNamara. This is a modern construction in a Post 9/11 America, so that they have to have acres of greenspace around the complex is not even valid.

I just don't get what goes through our leaders heads when they see these developments. Really, I just don't. Even demanding the smallest of demands would have made this more bearable, but they can't even get the balls to do that.

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The entire plan is garbage. How can anyone look at that and be satisfied? It doesn't take much creativity to get something better than that.

So right now I'm hoping that it will be as bad as possible. That way they can demolish it and try again in another 30 years, and maybe next time it'll be done right.

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^ The 60's and 70's proved that bad architecture hangs aorund for quite sometime.

Although I can say with confidence that this building won't be an FBI building for too long. Times change, and so does our government.

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I wonder why you predict that, Wolverine. It seems to me that the feds stay place for quite some time when they get in a building. One needs to look no further than the McNamara Federal Building and the nearby Theodore Levin Courthouse. And, this travels down to state government, too, as many state offices have been in many of these 'modern' state office buildings, here in Lansing, since the 50's or 60's. To me, government is one of the more stable tenants in an office market.

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I'm currently touring the midwest and I just visited Minneapolis and I have to say that the Federal Reserve bank building downtown along the waterfront is gorgeous and fits in perfectly with its surroundings. I'm really really disappointed by this design. I'll try to get some pictures of it up when I get back to Ann Arbor in about a week to show what the Government is capable of versus what it's planning here.

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I've seen it as well. I'll try and dig through my messy hard drive and see if I took a picture of it, which I'm pretty sure I did.

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I dont think that they building itself looks all that bad. Its just the layout of the site, being a suburban style, that really looks like crap. The building i could live with, if it was in an urban style of lot with no berms.

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Is replacing Executive Plaza with a 8-story building a stupid idea? If so, what floors do you think the replacement should have?

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It's not a stupid idea. What's stupid is the design. A bucolic office campus downtown is not in line w/ the principles of city building; ultimately having profound negative impacts on the attractiveness of downtown as a place people want to be. Imagine an 8-story building on the other side of the street from the Ellington on Woodward (south of Mack). Would that be a stupid idea? That's my point. :)

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I wouldn't mind if it was two stories (so that it's taller than the houses), as long as it was designed more like how we would all like it.

I think "ultimately having profound negative impacts on the attractiveness of downtown as a place people want to be" sums it up pretty good.

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Well, I think the FBI has the needs for organizing their departments more effectively on larger floor plans. I don't believe there is anything wrong with a new building, and there's nothing wrong with needing just 8 floors to function effectively. But i think the design sucks. The above images show much nicer buildings, especially the 2nd one.

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The problem is not the building design, it's the lot. I understand the need for security, but there are other ways to accomplish it without huge setbacks and grassy berms. Meh.

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Yeah, the design is the least of the plans problems. The problem is the layout, and how it will create yet another superblock within the central city. I really do give passing grades to bad designs if the plan is at least layed out properly. This is being built as a suburban office complex in the heart of the city. It's trying to fit a triangle into a square-shaped hole; THAT's the problem; the actual exterior design and height, far less offensive.

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