Archives for September 2014

Construction Update – Week of September 21, 2014

We're taking advantage of the beautiful Michigan fall weather to address some of our outside infrastructure. Geothermal wells have been dug on the west side of the property; manholes are being placed under what will be our sewer grates. The historic facade is undergoing repair. Metal facing continues to be added to our bay windows, and the base for the greenhouse roof is nearing completion. Inside, electrical wiring is taking place, and hot water tanks are lined up and waiting for placement. Take a look at some of the images from this week.               I took this photo of Jason leaning out a 4th floor window, with what looks like the weight of the world on his shoulders. I call it Jason's JFK … [Read more...]

Back to Earth: El Moore sandstone in the UP

A few weeks ago, my husband and I enjoyed a long, restorative weekend in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, where we camped, hiked, and took in the magnificent sights, including Tahquamenon Falls and the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. The immensity of Lake Superior, the lushness and density of the forests it nourishes, and the humbling scale of the region's geological formations made it all seem awfully far from our home in Detroit. But Detroit isn't really that far from the Pictured Rocks -- some 400 miles, give or take. And the connections between the regions run deep. By water, of course, Detroit is linked to the UP by the Great Lakes Waterway, a system of channels and canals connecting Lake Erie to Lake St. Clair, Lake St. Clair to Lake Huron, and Lake Huron all the way up … [Read more...]

Another Find While Digging in the Dirt

When you're working on a site whose history is as layered as that of the El Moore, you're bound to discover remnants of the past.  This week we made two such discoveries. As we broke ground on the El Moore green alley in the beginning of the week, our site contractor, J.D. VanOverbeke, was removing sections of the old concrete alley.  As they reached the edge of the twenty foot wide alley just west of the El Moore building, they scraped across an orange brick foundation that had been buried below a foot of dirt.  Further exploration revealed a four sided foundation measuring a building footprint of roughly 20 by 30 feet, complete with the concrete flooring still intact. Upon inspecting Sanborn maps of the property that reveal the various structures that have occupied the site … [Read more...]

Construction Update – Week of September 15, 2014

A lot of changes took place outside of the building this week. There was a lot of moving of the earth! In order to get our utilities connected underground, digging took place in the front of the building (to connect the gas line) and in the back, where a huge hole was dug to inspect our water sewer. The sewer that emerged was made of brick and completely intact. Progress was made on the greenhouse, also, and work took place to do a final clean up of the elevator tower. Inside, the final insulation is being blown in, floors got patched and cleaned up and drywall began to define the rooms. Take a look at some of the work that took place this week.   … [Read more...]

El Moore Green Alley Breaking Ground

Last week marked the groundbreaking (well, it was already fairly broken) of another Green Alley in Midtown.  Having completed Detroit's first Green Alley three years ago two blocks north of the El Moore, The Green Garage has begun work on improvements to the alleyway that runs behind the El Moore building.  In planning for this alley we had similar goals to the one next to the Green Garage, including: Making the alleyway a safe, welcoming pedestrian pathway option for the neighborhood Implementing a passive system to allow the rainwater that falls on the alley to be taken naturally into the water table and diverted away from storm drains Allowing a space for native plantings to take root which creates habitat for native animals and insects Three years after the completion of … [Read more...]

El Moore in the news!

We were delighted to see that the El Moore project was mentioned in three news outlets over the last few weeks! At the end of August, both Crain's and the Free Press ran pieces that included the El Moore as part of the wider story of current Detroit development projects. And just this past Tuesday, this very blog was included in a great feature article called Detroit Blogs You Need to Be Reading from our friends and neighbors at Model D! We're honored to be included in such great company. … [Read more...]

Pat Dorn; a neighbor on a mission to improve the neighborhood

  Pat Dorn, Executive Director of the Cass Corridor Neighborhood Development Corporation (CCNDC), describes what his organization does in the following way: "Our purpose is strictly to provide safe, clean, affordable housing for the residents of the Cass Corridor. We work only in the Cass Corridor. And after we accomplish that mission, then to improve the quality of life of our residents." Dorn, who has been active in improving the quality of life for residents of the Cass Corridor for more than 30 years with CCNDC, also happens to be the next-door-neighbor of the El Moore. Not content simply to live in a neighborhood, Dorn's actions speak louder than any words of his commitment as an architect in the rebuilding  and re-imagining of all of Detroit through building and … [Read more...]

Meet the named neighbors of the El Moore

One of my favorite features of the El Moore is its name, carved from the stone above its historic entrance in an ornate, exotic font that perfectly complements the building's Spanish Medieval style. This is a small detail that makes a big difference, helping define the El Moore as more than just a building -- it's the El Moore, a distinctive place with a particular personality. The practice of naming apartment buildings and carving those names into the buildings themselves was a pretty popular one in big US cities around the turn of the last century. Haruka Horiuchi, an architect, and Frank Hebbert, an urban planner, suggest on the site Urban Omnibus that its purpose was, in part, to make the idea of urban apartment living more attractive to the middle class. They write: 150 years … [Read more...]