Micropolitan Tower is a comprehensive building strategy that, as a response to a singular building, provides a model to reinvigorate downtown Flint, Michigan. Micropolitan Tower proposes a mixed-use hybrid of residential, commercial, live/work, recreational and community programming to create a microcosm that is both self-supporting and encourages community involvement. The initial development of Micropolitan Tower relies upon a comprehensive investment in the building infrastructure to create high-efficiency sustainable operating systems. The architecture is ‘loose fit’ to both serve immediate needs and anticipate the natural evolution of use and density that is inherent in the growth and vitality of every city. Micropolitan Tower will include small-scale mixed-use programming to encourage 24-hour activity. Diversity is key in bringing together a community to foster an economically viable, growing city center. Bringing residents downtown brings new demand for goods and services. Grocery stores, eateries and galleries will establish a neighborhood that encourages people to move to, and invest in, the downtown. Alliances with neighboring university and cultural institutions will promote community development and support the small start-ups and small-seed innovations that will bring new energy to the city. We propose three ways of developing Micropolitan living in the building:
The ground floor is programmed as an open market. Vendors set up stalls to sell flowers, fresh produce, or simple prepared foods. Supplies are kept in street carts or locked cabinets at night. As vendors become more established, they can move to fixed locations at the perimeter where small kitchens can be vented to the exterior. Shared seating areas along the façade enliven the sidewalk and activate the street.
The middle floor is programmed for team-building activities. Borrowing ‘corporate campus’ ideas from tech companies, we propose programs that encourage people to interact through casual activities - pool, ping pong, foosball. A portion of the floor can be used for a daycare center or youth center. A continuous outdoor balcony doubles as a running track. Retractable bleacher seating can be used for movie screenings, community board meetings or local theater productions.
3. EVENT SPACE
The top floor is programmed as a large dividable dining room available for dinners, rentable event space for parties or company events. The food service facilities from the University Club will be repurposed. The façade is crenellated to provide outdoor seating and dining when weather permits, with views overlooking the whole of the county.
Given the specific nature of the Genesee Towers’ structural grid, with its lower parking levels and distinctive banding, we intervened by removing the existing façade elements and, through selective floor slab demolition, created expansive internal spaces. The one-way pan-joist floor slabs are relatively easy to modify in the direction of the joists as long as the load-bearing beams are maintained. The structural central core provides the majority of the lateral stability required for a high-rise so that floor slab near the perimeter can be selectively removed. Perimeter beams are maintained to support the facade. The building is wrapped in an efficient glass skin with a fine filigree of horizontal louvers to provide daylighting control and privacy. The parking ramp is repurposed to create an urban street leading to the upper floors. With its layered façade the building reads as a lantern at night while, during the day, interruptions in the louvers express the central public spaces layered throughout the building
Investing in a high-efficiency sustainable building infrastructure will reduce long-term operating costs and encourage a variety of uses in the building. A rooftop co-generation plant produces electricity for the entire building, with the heat generated from it used for perimeter radiators in the winter and absorption chillers in the summer. Utilities are distributed in the ceiling of the corridor around the core with taps located in each structural bay. Sub-metering tracks utility usage, encouraging reduced energy use and fair distribution of resources. Key tenets of the system include co-generation, heat recovery, high efficiency equipment, daylight harvesting and lighting controls, low-flow plumbing fixtures and the use of local and recycled materials.
AWARDS: Third place, AIA Flint x 50 Design Competition
PROJECT TEAM: Timothy Bade, Jane Stageberg, Martin Cox, Jessica Rivera Bandler, Andre Guimond, Andrew Skey, Gonzalo Lopez Garrido, Laura Messier
CONSULTANTS: Robert Silman & Associates; Icor Associates