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Detroit 2022
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Questions? Organizer: Kristen Ball -

Detroit, a 139 square mile city known originally for its shipping port, and later for automobiles and music, has been dramatically impacted by cultural differences, economics and general loss of population. Large swaths of formerly functioning city neighborhoods were left to slowly deteriorate. Formally revered for its culture and architecture, the city, having more abandoned buildings than occupied, became known as a national center for "ruin porn" and urban decay. Detroit is now in the midst of a building reuse, preservation and construction boom not seen in over 75 years.

APTI members worldwide can relate to Detroit's multi-layered history; combating urban blight and economic decline; revitalizing infrastructure; and managing growth. The colonial forts and maritime structures, the birthplace of industrial manufacturing, and mid-century modern landmarks by the world's greatest architects will be explored. Building preservation work, at an all-time high and of buildings thought to be lost to the wrecking ball, will showcase the restoration and reinvigoration of life after decades of abandonment. Come join us in Detroit in November of 2022 and see the revitalization of this great city taking shape!

General abstracts submissions - March 14, 2022
Student abstracts/scholarship applications - March 14, 2022
Notification of acceptance of abstracts and Student Scholars will be made in June 2022.

Additional Information
General Abstract Submission Guidelines
Student Scholar Abstract Guidelines

The four tracks that will explore this year’s theme are:

Track 1: Pink Cadillac: The Composite Effect of Building and Industrial Design
As the quintessential American Rust-Belt city, Detroit not only served as an epicenter of the automobile industry, but its citizens also championed industrial design and its intersection with architecture from the early 1920s until the early 1970s. The mid-century modern movement was rooted in the roaring 1920s period of precipitous progress in the industrialization and modernization of culture. Technology was celebrated and not tempered, and ornamentation was stripped in favor of a streamlined aesthetic. Designers of all professions experimented with new materials and processes, such as concrete mixes, ceramics, plastics, metal alloys, and paints. Today we are still pushing the envelope in the development of such materials as structural glass, low energy/high performance cladding materials, and more. This track explores the preservation, adaptation, interpretation, and enhancement of “modern” materials (both the historic Modern Movement and the new century’s design advancements) used at all scales around the world.

Possible topics include:
  1. Impactful industrial design & architecture: materials and means in the Age of Motor
  2. Design philosophies/approaches when considering industrial heritage building and materials
  3. Rethinking manufacturing processes in historic buildings
  4. Programming challenges and opportunities when considering industrial heritage
  5. Aspects of the modern movement that constrained or inspired future uses/program requirements
  6. Advanced technologies applied to historic design and renovations
  7. Innovation and preservation of industrial materials
  8. Composites used in industrial design: how have they performed

Track 2: Stop! In the Name of Renewal: Adaptive Reuse and Renovation in the Metropolis
It just can’t be saved. It’s too far damaged. Just tear it down and build back better. This track will focus on the extreme ends of the adaptive reuse spectrum and what challenges building owners, developers, and historic districts must overcome. Like Detroit’s motto, “resurget cineribus,” these buildings shall rise from the ashes.

Possible topics include:
  1. Cost impacts: when do demolition and facadectomies become the only option
  2. Explore the significant loss of neighborhood buildings and how to rebuild entire districts
  3. How neglect, demolition, and deconstruction play significant roles in both the individual building’s rebirth (or death) and in the surrounding community’s redevelopment
  4. When do tax credits and other federal regulations bring a building back to life
  5. What technological methods are used in such dilapidated buildings for assessment, stabilization, and repair
  6. How do sustainability and the embodied energy of existing buildings affect development
  7. Renovation, Rehabilitation and Resuscitation: how to bring life to a fallen icon

Track 3: The Dire Straits: Challenges, Opportunities, and Innovations within Marine Environments
Detroit is the largest City in the Great Lake State. Shipping was a critical industry in the development of the state and remains so today. Before there were interstates and before there were steel rails, there was the Big Water, the Great Lakes. Settlement patterns and industry developed along the waterways, connecting remote settlements and bringing products to market and to consolidated industrial centers. This track will discuss the challenges of maintaining, preserving, and reusing maritime structures, including material choices and repair alternatives employed in the extreme exposure conditions.

Possible topics include:
  1. Water architecture: challenges, opportunities, and innovations
  2. Bridge preservation and design: social aspects as well as technological developments
  3. Beachfront design and recreational facilities: resiliency, design, and preservation
  4. Underwater Archeology: lost freighters, pleasure boats, airplanes, and other wreckage
  5. Historic waterfront communities

Track 4: Dancing in the Street: (R)evolution of a City
Henry Ford. Motown. Civil Rights. Modernism. The US’s one and only UNESCO Design City. Detroit has shaped the culture of not only the local region, but also the world, and gave inspiration to future artists of the visual, audio, and tactile arts. This track will study how books, music, movies, and social media can influence the culture and use of a building and how buildings will help preserve the story of the artists and local culture. How do building owners transition or reimagine purpose-built or already adapted structures to compete in a complex and changing urban market?

Possible topics include:
  1. Preservation beyond buildings
  2. Social architecture: adaptively reused structures in the New World (COVID, MeToo, BLM)
  3. Community outreach and its impact on historic districts
  4. How city planning affects the life of buildings and neighborhoods
  5. How landscapes and urban agriculture make urban environments beautiful and healthier
  6. How community advocacy is critical to the renewal of Urban areas

  7. Looking Back Driving Forward starts here!