Interrobang was a public event and temporary gallery staged on the rooftop of Detroit’s Packard Automotive Plant. Designed in response to the infamous building’s impending sale at auction, the project guided visitors through a precarious urban scenario sparking conversation about the sites possible, collective futures.

 

However briefly, Interrobang as a pop action, transformed the Packard site into a public space. For most the difficulty and mutability of the industrial complex made a visit feel risky, relegating an appraisal of this urban scenario to images disseminated in the media. Interrobang suggested that a series of simple design interventions can lend transparency and vivacity to a space typically associated with Detroit’s capital failures.

 

At core, the intervention was unassuming. First Interrobang cleared a path from the debris of Packard’s unhinged landscape. The resulting trail led visitors through the building and to a curated roofscape along East Grand Boulevard. Here they encounter an installation with interactive data cards and a 16 foot architectural model assessing the contemporary condition of each parcel on the 40-acre complex. At the center of the informal gallery space: an aggregate seating area that reconfigured to produce social clusters of variable scales.

 

As the title of the project implies, reactions to the site’s condition are both exclamatory and questioning. Interrobang suggested that beyond lament or fetishism in the face of such unmitigated ruination, public engagement might help project more inspired, collective ideas about urban space.

INTERROBANG, 2012

Detroit, Michigan

 

Lead:

Anya Sirota

Jean Louis Farges

 

Practicum team:

Gorham Bird, James Chesnut, Razieh Ghorbani, Erika Lindsay, William Martin, Hannah Hunt Moeller, Catharine Pyenson, Christopher Reznich

 

With assistance from:

Marty Keeter

 

Thanks and support:

Taubman College of Architecture + Urban Planning MS Conservation program