Day 210: Designing Detroit

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July 28, 2012 by Alex Hoekstra

Backing another Detroit project.  Got a problem with that?  Sue me.  Aside from the relevance of today’s project’s focus on D-town, there’s a heap of things worth supporting.  I may be predictable, but at least I try to be predictably good.

Detroit, I wish I knew you better.  I’ve been so close but so far away for most of my life, and now that I’m leaving your neighborhood, I do so in the hope that distance will only make me fonder of you.  Whenever I hear your name, my ears will perk up and I’ll listen in on how you’re doing – on what you’re doing and how you’re moving forward.  I’ll remember the too-few times I spent visiting you, getting to know you from the inside.  Despite the miles, I’ll learn about you and from you.  Today’s project should help with that.

There are parts of Detroit that are marvelous.  They were built that way.  The city’s architecture – residential, in particular – is an absolute wonder.  So much time has past since the marvelous Detroit was under construction that it’s hard to imagine the inspiration that went into the city’s designs.  In parts, the bricks have crumbled, paint peeled and wood rotted away, but those structures lasting the decades since their conception are still a sight to behold.  Much of that is thanks to one man – the subject of today’s project and a name not commonly remembered in today’s Detroit: Corrado Parducci.

The Man Who Made Detroit Beautiful is a documentary exploring the history of Detroit’s spectacular structures and the man who designed them.  In hopes to preserve, extend and revive his architectural legacy, the film is finally giving credit to an artist whose work lines the streets of a city too busy trying to build itself back up to remember who built it before.

I’ve been researching and lecturing on Parducci’s work since 2009, and I am always asked where people can go to learn more. Unfortunately, I reluctantly answer that there aren’t any resources available, which is one of the reasons I am producing this film. The second reason is that I feel that Parducci’s work deserves to be recognized.

In each of my brief encounters with Detroit, I marveled at what the city once was – what promise it once held for so many in a generation when the Motor City was running day and night as a genuine engine of the modern world.  Detroit is far from a boom-town now, and I can only hope that the city will return to and even exceed its former glory.  I believe it can, because I know it aspires to.  But that aspiration must be informed, and so I submit this project as a reminder of the Detroit that was built with beauty and power and inspiration.  Remind the city of where it came from and of what expectations it must strive to exceed by backing this film on Kickstarter before July 29.


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