Stories indexed with the term ‘UM Taubman College of Architecture & Urban Planning’

Liberty & First

Doors open and students beavering away to set up new exhibit in space rented by UM’s Taubman College of Architecture & Urban Planning, next to Liberty Lofts. [photo]

Public Gives Input on East County Rec Center

About 70 people crowded into a Sept. 27 open house at the Spark East office in Ypsilanti to hear about plans for a proposed new recreation center in downtown Ypsilanti, on the northwest corner of the Water Street redevelopment area. Two conceptual designs were presented for feedback, developed in large part by students and faculty at the University of Michigan’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning. The overall project is being spearheaded by Washtenaw County parks and recreation.

Model of a conceptual design for a new recreation center in downtown Ypsilanti

Model of a conceptual “canopy” design for a proposed new recreation center in downtown Ypsilanti. It was one of two models displayed at a Sept. 27 open house to get feedback on the proposed project.

Robert Tetens, the county’s parks and rec director, gave the gathering an overview of the project. “We’re an organization run by data, and our surveys over the years have showed demand for a rec center in the east part of the county,” he said. “We went to the Ypsilanti city council last fall, and proposed that the city provide the land, we [the county] would build it, and the Y[MCA in Ann Arbor] would run it. The seven- or eight-month project has taken us to where we are now.”

The center would be located on the south side of Michigan Avenue just east of downtown, next to the Huron River. The building likely would be 60,000-65,000 square feet – larger than the county’s 51,000-square-foot Meri Lou Murray Recreation Center, and smaller than the 70,000-square-foot Ann Arbor YMCA. Construction costs are estimated at $200 per square foot, or about $12-14 million. [Construction is only part of overall project cost, which typically includes infrastructure, professional fees, and more. No estimate of total project cost was made at the Sept. 27 meeting.] Tetens said that construction could not start until after the county’s parks and recreation millage is renewed in November 2014.

Two millages totaling 0.472 mills support the county’s parks and recreation efforts: one for operations, and one for development. The operational millage, at 0.2353 mills, was renewed for 10 additional years in 2004. To ensure operational continuity, that millage is typically renewed two years in advance of its expiration date. The current operational millage expires in 2016, but will likely be on the ballot for renewal in 2014.

Previously, Tetens had said that the schedule for the proposed east county recreation center would include settling on a specific plan for the building by December 2012. At the Sept. 27 meeting, he said other steps would include collaboration between the Ypsilanti city council and the county parks department over the next 8-10 months, followed by a campaign for the county parks millage renewal in November 2014, which is needed to ensure adequate cash flow. Then, Tetens said, he hoped to have bids out and be ready to get approval from the county board of commissioners, sign a contract, and start construction “right after that.”

The planning group showed two possible ways of developing the entire Water Street site: a “river ribbon” street plan with a storefront-style, elevated rec center building; and a “grid” street plan with a canopy-style building. Before designing the specifics of the building, the planning group defined the project’s objectives and the pertinent qualities of the overall site. Running through the discussion, including audience participation at the end, was the desire for the publicly-funded rec center and the adjacent Border-to-Border trail to create enough use of the site to attract private investment in retail, residential, and commercial uses that would generate tax revenue for the city of Ypsilanti. [Full Story]

Architecture of/and a 50th Birthday

University of Michigan School of Architecture

The greenhouse space adjoining Liberty Lofts as it looked on Saturday and Sunday (May 3-4, 2009).

A brief window of activity had given the corner some life over the weekend. But by Tuesday afternoon, the empty quiet had mostly returned in and around the greenhouse space adjoining Liberty Lofts at First and Liberty streets. The one exception was a  minivan mired in a pea gravel pit just inside the open garage door entrance. A crew of guys was strategically wedging 4×8  sheets of waferboard under the wheels to help the front wheels of the vehicle – already half buried in the loose fill –  gain some purchase. [Full Story]