Marchetti and Pellegrino Win Competition in Detroit

Rendering of MINICITY Detroit.

Rendering of MINICITY Detroit. Provided

News
July 22, 2013

Cornell in Rome visiting architecture critic Davide Marchetti, along with the collaboration of undergraduate Erin Pellegrino (B.Arch. ’14), has won first prize in the Redesigning Detroit: A New Vision for an Iconic Site competition. Promoted by Opportunity Detroit and sponsored by Rock Ventures LLC the competition attracted more than 1,000 registrants from around the globe, with nearly 200 of them submitting completed proposals.

The jury determined that Marchetti and Pellegrino’s proposal, MINICITY Detroit, was the best design for new urban development in downtown Detroit on the 92,421-square-foot former site of Hudson's, an iconic retailer that closed in 1983.

The competition brief required that proposals "demonstrate optimism about revitalizing Detroit, with great architecture providing a positive, catalytic impact on the community."

In their proposal, Marchetti and Pellegrino establish an active urban core through an elevated pedestrian level that can host public events such as fairs, outdoor markets, music concerts, and festivals. Additionally, high-rise buildings in the industrial red brick style seen throughout Detroit and Merchant Row rise from the pedestrian center.

The project description says, "[The] existing conditions provide a framework for renewal. The design pulls the existing urban grid into the site to generate the driving axes of the scheme, allowing for a merging of both the historic city and its potential as a new addition to the Woodward Avenue corridor."

"Detroit has an impressive historical, social, and architectural heritage that I had to take into consideration, even if recent economic problems were filtering those essential cues," says Marchetti. "The project tries to gather some of these cultural references but with no intention of creating a mere collage, so the juxtaposition becomes a subjective exercise. On a bigger scale, the 'Minicity' aims to create a smaller self-sustainable environment inside an existing situation that needs a new urban regeneration."

"I had no idea what to expect, as I had never done a competition before," says Pellegrino. “It was a semester of firsts for me: It was the first time I couldn't rely on English as my first language, it was the first time I had ever lived in Europe, and it was the first time I worked with an actual architect on a project."