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, this 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. We 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 encountered an installation with interactive exhibit 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 often 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.
Detroit, Michigan, 2012
Project Leads: Anya Sirota, Jean Louis Farges
Practicum Team: Gorham Bird, James Chesnut, Razieh Ghorbani, Erika Lindsay, William Martin, Hannah Hunt Moeller, Catharine Pyenson, Christopher Reznich
This project was made possible with the support of Taubman College of Architecture + Urban Planning and the MS Conservation program. Special thanks to Marty Keeter.