Archive for December, 2012

Detroit Collision Works Hotel

Collision Works will be much more than a cool boutique hotel in Detroit’s lively Eastern Market – it will re-define what a hotel can be. Founder Shel Kimen is shepherding the creation of a co-working and lodging space rooted in community participation and story-telling.

One of her organization’s laudable stated beliefs is in “honoring the freak genius in all of us.”

A vital aspect of this project is that the design will convey an intriguing “Detroit Style” rather than “Anytown, USA” disorienting blandness. In other words, it will reflect the edgy, imperfect, quirky aesthetic of a hands-on working community in a one-of-a-kind location.

This “community accelerator” (the city must now attract lots of accelerators and investors in order to quickly shore up a shrunken tax base) aims to bring meaningful stories of the past and present to life.

Detroit has a lot of emotional stories to tell and learn from. One over-arching theme is the power of grass roots change vs. top-down efforts. Answers to the question of what has held Detroit back for so many years are complex, but imposed change has a dismal record here and is arguably the main culprit.

This hotel, constructed of shipping containers, is a grass roots initiative story that will surely attract global attention, perhaps on a scale comparable to New York’s High Line.

collisionworks logo

Here is how Collision Works describes their new role as a “make and stay space”:

“In the last ten years we’ve seen an evolution of hotels from places to sleep to social settings for culture development. They incorporate music and art, host independent events like film festivals and book releases, and sell locally made crafts in the rooms. We’d like to see this trend deepen. We’d like a hotel to be a meaningful participant in its community.”

I can think of no better place than Detroit to break this kind of new ground.

– Sharon VanderKaay

Image: Conceptual art of Detroit’s planned Collision Works, design by KOOP architecture + media and The Detroit Collaborative Design Center (DCDC)

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