The former site of Detroit’s abandoned Wayne County Jail project is slated to become the new home of the 14-acre Detroit Center for Innovation (DCI), anchored by a swooping Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF)-designed research and graduate education center for the University of Michigan (U-M).
The plan, and the first $300 million, 190,000-square-foot new building, was revealed by the City of Detroit on October 30 and will expand the university’s presence throughout the city. The center is only the first piece of what’s supposed to be an ambitious multi-building campus, jointly financed by the local Bedrock LLC and Stephen Ross’s Related Companies, the first Detroit project for the latter developer.
In an interview with Crains, Ross, a U-M alumnus, said that the complex, which could ultimately cost over $750 million, was intended to attract companies and innovative talent to Detroit. When all is said and done, the project will include a hotel and conference center conversion for the now-empty Detroit Police Department headquarters, residential student housing, and incubator space for technology companies.
In that same interview, Ross pitched the DCI as a Midwestern alternative to the similarly-sized Cornell Tech campus on Roosevelt Island in New York.
The KPF-designed center itself will be run by U-M and will contain programs for up to 1,000 undergraduate students in their senior year and graduate students. The offerings are decidedly tech-oriented; the city stated that it expects the building will house a “range of high-tech innovation disciplines, including mobility, artificial intelligence, data science, entrepreneurship, sustainability, cybersecurity, financial technology and more.” Although no specific curricula for the center have been chosen at the time of writing, the university will establish an interdisciplinary committee to decide exactly what will be taught there.
A startup space, coworking offices, and business incubator are also possibilities for the center. Construction on the DCI is expected to begin in 2021, with the glass-fronted academic building slated for completion in 2023.