The Detroit Square: Is There an Engagement Process? – UROP Spring Symposium 2021

The Detroit Square: Is There an Engagement Process?

Kithma Niyangoda


Pronouns: she/her/hers

Research Mentor(s): Damani Partridge, Associate Professor
Research Mentor School/College/Department: Department of Anthropology and Department of Afroamerican and African Studies, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts
Presentation Date: Thursday, April 22, 2021
Session: Session 1 (10am-10:50am)
Breakout Room: Room 9
Presenter: 6

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The Museums and Publics project is looking at how public spaces are integrated in urban cities. We are trying to answer the broad question of “Who decides the future of the city?” We want to understand how the futures of post-industrial cities are determined; more specifically, we want to understand the decision making and design process and how that is shown in the final built environment. Currently, we are following the design and engagement process of the Detroit Square. The aim of the Square is to recreate the cultural district in Midtown Detroit and link the existing cultural institutions together in one space. The goal of the project is to create a film and answer the question, “What will the designers implement in the design process that will allow the Detroit community to have a voice?” This study will try to answer this question through qualitative interviews over Zoom with the project designers and the Detroit community. The interviews will help us understand if there will actually be public engagement or if it is only said for show. This film will also continue the conversation of who gets to be a part of the design process and start to hold designers accountable for not engaging the long-term residents of the city. As the Detroit Square is still in the beginning stages, future researchers on this project will continue to follow along with the design process and later with the building process.

Authors: Kithma Niyangoda
Research Method: Web Design/Social Media

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