The Urban Restructuring of Metropolitan Detroit
A Cooperative Regional Governance for the City and its Suburbs
by Catherine Tang
Completed during the Spring 2012 semester at the Harvard Graduate School of Design.
The current state of Detroit’s decline is both the cause and the effect of its region. Population loss, abandonment, unemployment, poverty, crime, and declining city services continue to deteriorate the physical, social, and economic integrity 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 similar fiscal and social stresses. The usual habits for 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 at hand, but also to strengthen the region’s competitiveness in metropolitan economies afar. To do so, local governments of metropolitan Detroit necessitate a new cooperative regional governance structure that will 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.
Catherine Tang is an urban designer at AECOM Los Angeles with over 10 years of professional experience in architecture, urban design, and planning. Recognizing that there is a correlation between the physical form of the built-environment and a society’s well-being, Catherine strives to create vibrant, sustainable, and healthy communities by approaching projects at the intersection of design and policy. In her work, Catherine is driven by passion, pragmatism, and civic responsibility. Professionally, she has collaborated on multidisciplinary teams for projects across various scales for both public and private clients, including community vision plans, transit-oriented development strategies, urban redevelopment plans, and new city masterplans. Catherine holds a Master of Architecture in Urban Design (2012) from the Harvard University of Graduate School of Design and a Bachelors of Architecture (2009), Cum Laude, from the University of Southern California School of Architecture.