With a lot of enthusiasm and not a little fanfare, LTU’s College of Architecture and Design officially opened LTU’s Detroit Center for Design and Technology (DCDT) on Oct. 30.
Located at 4219 Woodward Avenue at the corner of Willis Street in Midtown Detroit, LTU’s new location is destined to be a center for urban design, art, and the University’s extensive outreach programs in Detroit.
The DCDT is the anchor tenant for the Woodward Willis Building developed by Midtown Detroit Inc. LTU has a long-term lease for 14,000 square feet and will initially occupy 8,000 square feet. The center is expected to eventually expand, but the other 6,000 square feet will be sub-leased for the next few years. Some construction work had not been completed in time for the opening, but the center will be ready for the start of the spring semester in January.
The Midtown Detroit area is experiencing a dramatic rebirth, making it an excellent location for bringing LTU’s Detroit-based academic programs together under one roof and providing a venue for new and expanded programs.
“We feel there is a dramatic cultural shift taking place that will support the major commitment LTU is making to the revitalization of Detroit,” said Amy Deines, executive director of the DCDT and interim dean of LTU’s College of Architecture and Design. “Our goal is to actively engage the civic and social awareness of our students and give them opportunities to become involved in projects that will have a positive impact on the city and its residents.”
LTU’s renewed commitment to the city has not gone unnoticed. The Detroit Free Press, Crain’s Detroit Business, and WXYZ TV-7 all covered the opening of the DCDT. Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones spoke and many other Detroit office holders and civic leaders attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony that attracted a large crowd of LTU administrators, faculty, students, and guests.
LTU has been active in Detroit for decades and the DCDT will increase the university’s impact on the city and increase student exposure to the urban environment. A hands-on course in urban design has been taught in Detroit by LTU Professor Joongsub Kim since 1999 and was based in the New Center for many years. More recently, LTU’s College of Architecture and Design added two additional Detroit-based design courses and operated an architecture and design exhibit space on Woodward Avenue. LTU has also initiated outreach programs intended to teach the STEAM subjects (science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics), as well as design, to elementary and high school students in the region.
By bringing several of the College of Architecture and Design’s urban programs together, LTU’s Detroit Center for Design and Technology will provide:
• An urban setting for university courses in urban design, architecture, graphic design and industrial design.
• A permanent exhibition space for the presentation of contemporary ideas in architecture and design.
• A new design incubator that will help entrepreneurs turn their design-based ideas into new businesses.
• Support for LTU’s outreach to STEAM-oriented schools in the region.
• A common meeting place for LTU students and other DCDT tenants involved in architecture, design, engineering and development.
Close to 100 LTU students soon will be taking classes at DCDT on a weekly basis and they will have the opportunity to cross paths with the Woodward Willis Building’s other tenants – Invest Detroit, AIA Michigan, AIA Detroit, SME, the Urban Land Institute of Detroit, and the local chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architects.
“It is unique for an architecture and design school to have such a strong physical connection with professional associations and firms,” Deines said. “We forged these relationships to bring future architects into contact with like-minded professional people. We can’t anticipate all the connections that will be made, but we expect it to be an enriching educational experience for our students.”
Beginning in early 2016, LTU’s DCDT Design Incubator will provide programs and services to help creative businesses grow in Detroit. It will leverage the DCDT’s connections with the midtown community and other Detroit neighborhoods to help those businesses grow and thrive. It will offer access to legal advice, marketing resources, and mentorship for business start-ups. LTU’s Design Incubator will also launch a fellowship program to encourage recent college graduates to start businesses and take up residence in Detroit.
LTU will also take advantage of the exhibition space in the DCDT’s lobby to broaden the visual experience of the LTU community and people of Detroit. The gallery will host exhibitions by students, faculty, and the community, and will show the work of nationally and internationally recognized professionals. “Our goal is to foster learning and collaboration, and to encourage dialog about society and our diverse cultural landscape,” said LTU Assistant Professor Deirdre Hennebury.