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Student work, urban design, urban planning
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Name

Catherine Tang, MAUD 2012

Project Title

The Urban Restructuring of Metropolitan Detroit, Thesis

Instructors

Toni Griffin and Michael Hooper

Date

Spring 2012

Sponsor

Harvard Real Estate Academic Initiative

The current state of Detroit’s decline is both a cause and effect of its metropolitan region’s character. Population loss, abandonment, unemployment, poverty, crime, and declining city services continue to deteriorate the physical, social, and economic integrity and quality of life of neighborhoods and populations that remain within the city proper. This decline, however, is exacerbated by the continued and outward sprawl of its suburbs resulting in an unsustainable, inequitable, and inefficient region. Interestingly enough, most of Detroit’s suburbs are not necessarily faring better, but, instead, are increasingly sharing much of the central city’s fiscal and social stresses. The usual habits of wasteful sprawl, socioeconomic inequities, and inter-governmental inefficiencies are no longer acceptable. Regional cohesion in metropolitan Detroit is necessary to not only improve the quality of life for residents, businesses, and visitors, but to also strengthen the region’s competitiveness in metropolitan economies afar. Thus, this thesis explored the ways in which a new cooperative regional governance would 1) restructure municipalities at the micro-regional level to equitably redistribute the region’s resources through the use of 2) a regional planning framework that capitalizes on regional anchors as reinforced by 3) public policies of inter-governmental coordination and cooperation at the macro-regional level.

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