DetroitPhoto Du Jour

Replanning Downtown Detroit – Part 4 of 8

THE “MAINLAND” SHOPPING CENTER

Section “C” on the map:

Offices of Louis G. Redstone, Architect; Allan G. Agree, Associate Architect represented by:
Louis G. Redstone, Avner Naggar, Kiyoshi Mano, Bernard W. Colton, Stanley Aizinas, Alfred Gittleman

Plan of the heart of the CBD “Mainland” shopping center.

Congestion and parking problem created by 100 people using their own cars against the same number of people using the monorail system.

A system of mass transportation by monorail for the region.

This is a study of the “Hub” area of the CBD. To indicate the shopping character of the area it “was named “Mainland Shopping Center.”

Studies of statistical data confirmed the fact that an important contributing factor to the decline of downtown business areas was the lack of accessibility for shoppers.

As a prerequisite, therefore, to the architectural solution, this group took up a study of transporta¬tion problems affecting the area of CBD. Available data indicated that today approximately 50% of those commuting to CBD drive to work and 80% of those driving use their own automobiles. The CBD is “choked up” under present day condi¬tions. Projecting yearly rates of increase of traffic into the future, it is estimated that in 20 years an area equal to the entire CBD acreage on one level would be needed to park automobiles coming into the area.

To attract more shoppers downtown, yet to limit the automobile influx, may seem paradoxical at first glance. Actually, the solution lies in a radically new approach to the means of transportation.

A radial monorail system is recommended which would work as follows:

a For the comfort of the commuter near his home, a self-propelled unit (30 m.p.h.) “the capsule” or a number of units, pulled by a tractor, collect commuters periodically at residential street corners. These would constitute the feeder lines.

b At certain terminal points (Chart 2) “capsules” become “monorailborne” components of arapid transportation system. Switching of “cap¬sules” from one level to another takes place through hydraulic or electric lifts, which are then connected to the rail above.

c Underground CBD terminal points (Chart 3) become pedestrian distribution centers. Here the same “capsule” is lowered down and becomes again self-propelled.

d Final destination is reached on foot, via moving pedestrian walks.

People must be stimulated to shop downtown. The area, therefore, must offer new experiences in shopping environments. A radical departure from the present day pattern is offered in a twenty-year development plan. Surveys of existing mercantile buildings revealed obsolescence of structure and merchandising concepts. Some buildings are only partially occupied. Some should be demolished immediately because of lack of safety standards; others should be replaced as a part of the new overall plan. This solution suggests the building of possibly a new Hudson’s Store to create a significant “orientation land mark” for the whole area. The present Hudson Store may serve different and less important functions.

The entire solution hinges around a new “Town Square” of shopping, surrounded by the natural and the mechanical, landscaped areas, fountains and gardens, news stands, benches, cafes, moving walks and seats, elevated heliports, parking garages and terminals for the rapid transit system. The airconditioned concourse type structure containing many small shops also may become a part of this solution.

Whether this scheme, proposed by the group, will remain a dream or become a reality will depend on the farsightedness of the people of Detroit, the city planners, the architects, the economists and the financiers. The “Mainland Shopping Center” could be a reality in our lifetime.

Monorail system and its terminal with connection to an underground loop system in the downtown CBD.

View towards the new department store tower from Hudson’s.

Center plaza of the “Mainland” shopping center.

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