Designing a More Inclusive Detroit For Residents, Old and New

Stephen Henderson speaks with three people who have spent a lot of time thinking about how to design a better future for all Detroiters.

City of Detroit skyline and Hart Plaza.

Dodge Fountain at Hart Plaza in downtown Detroit.

Jake Neher/WDET

How do we make sure that investment and development in Detroit are inclusive? How do we make sure that it benefits everyone — including the people who have been here from the beginning, through all of the city’s ups and downs?

Bedrock, Quick Loan billionaire Dan Gilbert’s real estate development firm, is doing some things to keep those questions in mind as it helps drive Detroit’s revitalization.

We’ll say it again: Gilbert’s real estate development firm, which has been criticized in some quarters for taking an exclusive approach in downtown Detroit, says it’s now intentionally focusing on inclusivity.

Bedrock’s second biennial Detroit Design 139 exhibition is now accepting entries for projects driven by an inclusive future. This theme prioritizes best practices for making sure the future of Detroit’s built environment is designed with everyone in mind.

On Detroit Today, Stephen Henderson speaks with a number of guests about new investment, development, and design in and around Detroit — how inclusive it has been, and how inclusive it can be.

Melissa Dittmer is Bedrock’s chief design officer. She speaks with Henderson about Detroit Design 139, Bedrock’s level of commitment to inclusive design and development, as the company’s reputation in that area.

Orlando Bailey is the chief development officer of Eastside Community Network, which has been “spearheading community development on Detroit’s east side for over 30 years,” according to its website. He talks about what’s happening in Detroit’s low-density neighborhoods, outside the core of downtown and Midtown.

Conrad Kickert is an assistant professor of urban design at the University if Cincinnati, and author of the book “Dream City: Creation, Destruction, and Reinvention in Downtown Detroit.” The book looks at Detroit’s built environment, how it has changed over centuries, and how those designs affect Detroit’s revitalization in good and bad ways.

Bailey recently spoke with WDET’s Jake Neher about a specific neighborhood he’s working in, McDougall-Hunt. You can hear that conversation here.

Click on the audio player above to hear those conversations.

Jake Neher/WDET



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    Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.