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Here’s What the Future of Sustainable Development in Detroit Looks Like at Michigan Central in Corktown

Victoria Prouse, the Sustainability and Transportation Planning Lead for Michigan Central, Discusses Sustainable Urban Planning During October’s Sustainable Urban Design Summit

AERIAL VIEW OF MICHIGAN CENTRAL LOOKING SOUTHEAST. COURTESY OF FORD

Detroitisit, in partnership with the Consulate General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Chicago, and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Washington DC will host a Sustainable Urban Design Summit in an effort to develop creative solutions through a global yet hyperlocal virtual program in partnership with and during the globally recognized Dutch Design Week.

Victoria Prouse, Ford Motor Company’s Sustainability and Transportation Planning Lead for Michigan Central, will share the company’s sustainability vision for the $950 million project in Detroit’s oldest neighborhood, Corktown. The company is set to restore the historic Michigan Central Station building with the same forward-thinking focus on sustainability and mobility that Bill Ford Jr. embedded in the vision of Ford Motor Company itself. Prouse will be a seminal part of the discussion focused on how Detroit is elevating sustainability as a critical factor in workforce development, economic well-being, stable housing practices, and more.

Join us for a fresh discussion between Dutch and Michigan based progressive leaders working to apply sustainable urban design and circular economy applications in architecture, design, policy, development, mobility, materials sourcing, and re-thinking how cities, citizens in them, their social cohesion, and the buildings that occupy space coexist.

Hear Victoria’s perspective on the topics on October 19, 2021. The Sustainable Urban Design Summit will take place virtually over Zoom on October 19th and 21st at 9:30 am EST and 15:30 CET simultaneously.

Register here for your tickets: sustainableurbandesignsummit.com.


Sustainable urban planning and design have become increasingly important for cities, neighborhoods, and smaller projects throughout the country. In Detroit, city-wide guidelines depicting the rules and regulations around sustainable design and planning are still mostly in the works, but there are many ways contractors and investors can begin the transition towards a more sustainable and sustainably designed future. 

Victoria Prouse, the Sustainability and Transportation Planning Lead for Michigan Central at the Ford Motor Company, shares that one of the most sustainably effective planning methods for businesses and projects consists of putting “local first”. Prouse says, “By that I mean… thinking about the local context, i.e. Detroit and the unique needs, sustainability, [and] priorities, that exist in… this geographic area of the U.S.” 

In doing this, space can be utilized wisely and effectively, hopefully in a way that is largely beneficial and necessary to its location and the location’s residents. 

MICHIGAN CENTRAL MOBILITY PLATFORM FROM VERNOR

MICHIGAN CENTRAL MOBILITY PLATFORM FROM VERNOR

Prouse continues, stating that development in terms of phasing is another important piece to urban planning.

The inherent definition of sustainable urban planning is planning for the future and planning for future generations,” she says, “but I think… if COVID has taught us anything, it’s the power of being able to pivot quickly and being iterative and really thinking about the now, the near, and the far and not just… the far.

VICTORIA PROUSE HEADSHOT ; SUSTAINABLE URBAN PLANNING AND DESIGN

VICTORIA PROUSE, SUSTAINABLE URBAN PLANNING AND DESIGN

To Prouse, breaking a plan into smaller parts enables more resilience and leeway in decisions throughout a project, granting the ability to preserve areas at a greater rate and possibly even utilize fewer new materials in the process. The preservation of landscape, history and stories of an area’s past are things that Prouse considers as immensely positive impacts on a geographical area and its community. 

For Michigan Central Station itself, a large part of its sustainable planning has gone towards water mitigation and control. “As far as our sustainability strategy goes, in Detroit, you know, stormwater is really a big priority—and managing stormwater and mitigating flooding incidents— and so our sustainability strategy really focuses on water,” says Prouse.

“Our proximity to the Detroit River also goes in line with that,” she goes on to say, “so we’re thinking really creatively about how we can… harness water as both landscape features and make it… work for us in an aesthetic way but also be really ambitious with stormwater retention and detention in different ways on the site.” Prouse also mentions the importance of sustainable energy for Michigan Central, stating that 100% of the energy used by the Station is sourced through DTE and is renewable.

The future of sustainability is looking up, but there are still many things that Detroit, along with cities around the globe, can do. Prouse says that thinking about the ability to further densify areas and utilize the idea of adaptive reuse can enable a better future for sustainable urban planning. For example, she says, “If we live in more dense areas we are able to take more sustainable forms of transportation, for example, scooters, bikes, transit, etc.”

MOBILITY PLATFORM – COURTESY OF PRACTICE FOR ARCHITECTURE AND URBANISM (PAU)

MOBILITY PLATFORM COURTESY OF PRACTICE FOR ARCHITECTURE AND URBANISM (PAU)

On a more local note, Prouse states, “I think the city has a really excellent sustainable action agenda. And so, from the perspective of tomorrow’s Detroit, I think… [Detroit should be] taking that lead and really embracing how it elevates sustainability as… a crucial factor in… workforce development, economic well being… safe and stable housing for folks and strong neighborhoods.” 

 

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