A few years ago, Kate Daughdrill (left) purchased the house and lot next to 3347 Burnside Ave. and combined it with adjacent lots to create Burnside Farm, a community farm where neighbors collectively work the land and share the goods. After hearing about Archolab's interest in converting the fire-ravaged property into a year-round greenhouse, owner Andy Malone (third from left) sold the property to Daughdrill for $1 for inclusion into the farm. Malone, who resides across the street, is an artist who had bought the property with the intention to repurpose it as a place of artistic or architectural intervention.
Wanda Lau Afterhouse, by the University of Michigan research collaborative Archolab, was one of 18 projects to receive a grant from the Kresge Foundation.

Eighteen projects seeking to revitalize neighborhoods in Detroit received a total of $1.6 million in grants this week from the Kresge Foundation. The private, national organization known for investing in arts, culture, educational, and community programs in the Motor City, announced the recipients of its inaugural Kresge Innovative Projects: Detroit grants on April 1 at Marygrove College, in Detroit.

More than 100 proposals were submitted for the three-year, $5 million initiative after it was announced last October. “With this program, we set out to quickly light up the map of Detroit with the reality of positive change,” said Rip Rapson, the president and CEO of the Kresge Foundation, in a press release.

The 18 projects include 11 recipients of implementation grants between $100,000 and $150,000, and seven recipients of planning grants between $20,000 and $25,000.

Each of Detroit's seven city-council districts has at least one implementation project.
The Kresge Foundation Each of Detroit's seven city-council districts has at least one implementation project.

Each of Detroit's seven city council districts has at least one implementation project, which must be completed within 12 to 18 months. Among them is 2014 ARCHITECT R+D Award winner Archolab, a research collaborative at the University of Michigan, for its Afterhouse prototype.

Archolab's husband-and-wife duo Steven Mankouche, a registered architect, and Abigail Murray, an artist, have teamed with Burnside Farm, an eight-lot community hub and farm in East Detroit, to turn an abandoned home into a passive-solar, subterranean greenhouse that can grow produce year-round—no small feat in Michigan. The retrofit has the potential to serve as a model for converting abandoned or underutilized housing throughout the city into productive sites.

After: When complete, the Afterhouse will feature a year-round underground greenhouse as well as a seasonal garden porch, which complements the neighborhood vernacular.
Archolab After: When complete, the Afterhouse will feature a year-round underground greenhouse as well as a seasonal garden porch, which complements the neighborhood vernacular.

Afterhouse received a $135,000 grant, which will help the team complete the project, particularly after the crew encountered demolition and construction hiccups last year. "We're incredibly honored by the support, especially since we're in such great company," Mankouche says. The team will resume a regular construction schedule in May, when Mankouche wraps up teaching for the spring semester at the University of Michigan, where he is an associate professor at the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning.

Other implementation projects seek to improve or rebuild community parks, playgrounds, and a youth boxing gym, as well as to transform a blighted two-family residence into the first LEED Platinum rehabilitated home in Detroit.

The seven planning grants will support neighborhood groups as they conduct exploratory studies and preliminary master plans. Two of these recipients will study the conversion of a 1.5-mile abandoned rail line into a pedestrian and bicycle–friendly greenway, and the transformation of a 2,200-square-foot commercial building into a neighborhood plaza that will be used to promote the work of local artists.

The planning projects must be completed by August. The neighborhood organizations behind them will then be eligible to apply for the the Kresge initiaive's second round of funding, which is anticipated to launch this fall.


ARCHITECT’s R+D Awards program celebrates innovation in architecture and design. Learn more and enter today. This piece is part of a series of articles that will examine the progress made by past award winners.