Recognizing Detroit’s 313 Day

4 min read

At 7:45am, PEA Group’s JR Watkins, PE, heads out to his car, ready to take another day by storm. After turning the key, he tunes in to the morning news and begins his commute from the Eastside of Detroit to PEA Group’s Detroit office downtown in Capitol Park.

JR’s 3-mile commute is nothing short of eventful or scenic as Belle Isle, the Renaissance Center, and his home parish (the oldest church building in the city), Saints Peter and Paul Church, decorate his drive. JR passes iconic Detroit sights that have shaped the city and are a part of a resounding history. These historic landmarks have witnessed the continual growth of the Motor City, growth that is evident in JR’s commute as he passes many development sites, including the new bike corridor on Kercheval.

Blending the new with the old, are several PEA Group projects along the way – completed, active, and those that will soon see their groundbreaking. Four such projects include Pullman Parc, Lafayette West, Spirit Plaza, and Capitol Park.

As JR drives along, he passes the residential community, Pullman Parc, located along East Lafayette and Saint Aubin streets, near Lafayette Park. Pullman Parc is a residential development in the City, comprised of almost 5-acres of both rental and condominium housing. PEA Group performed civil engineering and surveying services for Pullman Parc from early on in the concept design phases. Each building is a mix of contemporary architecture and modern urban living, utilizing wood, brick, and metal in the designs. Surrounded by the buildings is a lush central courtyard offering residents a place for relaxation among the enticing sights and sounds of downtown. Additionally, residents are only moments from Eastern Market, the Detroit River, and other great Detroit locations.

Next, he passes the southeast corner of the Chrysler Freeway Service Drive and Antietam. Formerly home to Wayne State’s Shapero Hall, the site will come to life again as Lafayette West, a mixed-use residential development. PEA Group has been involved with the site since initial concept design, providing surveying, civil engineering, landscape architecture, and geotechnical engineering. Lafayette West will be across the street from the historic Mies van der Rohe district in Lafayette Park, and in 2015, Lafayette Park was designated as a National Historic Landmark by the United States National Park Service. Residents of Lafayette West will have the opportunity to be emerged in the history of Detroit, right outside their front door.

JR’s drive continues as he passes Spirit Plaza. PEA Group assisted the City of Detroit Recreation Department and Premier Group Associates (PGA) with the initial renovations in 2019. Originally, it was conceived as a “trial run” to study the conversion of one block of Woodward from a vehicular roadway into a pedestrian-only public space. PEA Group provided survey and geotechnical services to support the design, followed by developing layout plans and details to assist PGA with the construction of the project. Since 1958, Spirit Plaza has been considered a natural gathering place for people to enjoy all that Detroit has to offer. The park hosts weekday activities including rotating food trucks available at lunch, as well as live performances from local artists, continuing to serve as an iconic spot for enjoying the best Detroit has to offer.

The last stop, located right outside JR’s office, is Capitol Park. Once home to Michigan’s first State Capitol building, PEA Group collaborated with Public Work of Toronto to develop both design and preliminary construction documents for the redesign of Capitol Park for the Downtown Development Partnership. The design for the park calls for a dense canopy of trees and preserves the existing mature ginkgo trees in the park. A water feature, landscape planting, park kiosk, art installations, dog run, and spaces for outdoor eating and entertainment are planned and will provide both residents and visitors with a walkable greenspace amidst the offices and retail locations.

JR reaches the Detroit PEA Group office. Tomorrow on 313 Day, and every day,  JR is proud and fortunate to have contributed to so many remarkable projects around the city with his fellow teammates. Stepping into the office, he is ready to add another addition to the colorful story of the City of Detroit.

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