Program Sections



Thank you for your interest in “Redesigning Detroit: A New Vision for an Iconic Site,” an “Ideas Competition” sponsored by “Rock Ventures LLC” and promoted by “Opportunity Detroit”. Opportunity Detroit is the branding campaign initially created by Rock Ventures LLC to change the conversation about and the image of the city of Detroit, and to promote it as a good place to live, work, play and invest.

“Redesigning Detroit” is intended to generate innovative ideas for the re-use of one of the most important building sites in Detroit’s rapidly redeveloping downtown. The “Redesigning Detroit” Competition will culminate with cash awards, a significant ceremony in the city, and an exhibition. This program document includes information about the purpose and procedures of the Competition, as well as registration materials. All questions and communication regarding participation in the Competition should be sent via email.

Email questions to:


On behalf of Rock Ventures and Opportunity Detroit, I welcome you and wish you good luck.

Reed Kroloff, Competition Advisor



For generations, Hudson’s (also known as the “Big Store” and “J. L. Hudson’s”) was the premier retailer in downtown Detroit, and one of the most important department stores in the country. The massive flagship store anchored the bustling Woodward Avenue shopping corridor, and at 25 stories was the tallest department store in the world. It was second in overall size only to Macy’s New York, and that by a mere 26,000 square feet. Growing from modest beginnings in the Detroit Opera House, Hudson’s broke ground in 1891, ultimately undergoing 12 expansions, with final additions in 1946 extending the store over an entire city block. Hudson’s was designed in a style reminiscent of the early Chicago School, and was constructed of steel, brick, granite, and limestone. Detroit and Hudson’s reached their zenith in the 1950’s and 1960’s, but were both in decline by the middle 1970’s. Hudson’s closed its doors in 1983, and the building was imploded in 1998, leaving a large vacant space in the heart of this great American city.

All great cities lose some of their important architectural monuments over time. Try to find New York’s Pennsylvania Station, or Tokyo’s Imperial Hotel. Detroit has not escaped that fate, but its biggest architectural loss may yet yield its greatest opportunity and something that can be the pride of the city. That’s what this Competition is all about.

Downtown Detroit now finds itself enjoying a renaissance. In 2003, software giant Compuware moved its headquarters and 4,000 employees into a new 18 story building between the Hudson’s site and nearby Campus Martius Park. Since August of 2010, Quicken Loans and the Rock Ventures family of companies have moved to the same area, bringing 7,500 team members to work in the heart of the city.

General Motors undertook a substantial renovation of John Portman’s iconic Renaissance Center in 2004, bringing their downtown employment to 9,000. The area also includes more than 3,000 employees in Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Buildings in the Renaissance Center and beyond. These 25,000 new downtowners have been joined by an influx of cultural facilities such as the Michigan Opera Theater, galleries, restaurants, and retailers, the Riverwalk, and two new professional sports stadiums that opened in 1999 and 2002. The beautifully-restored Fox Theater continues to anchor the entertainment and theater district as it has since the 1980s. All of this activity parallels an upsurge in downtown living by a young generation of entrepreneurs centered in the high-tech and arts communities, injecting the central city with a burst of energy – the likes of which it hasn’t seen in decades. Downtown Detroit is once again a place of opportunity and excitement.

And now, 30 years after the closing of Hudson’s and 15 years since the demolition of its building, Opportunity Detroit is hosting an open call for architects, designers, planners, artists, and community members to present innovative ideas for the future use of this pivotal, historic property. While downtown Detroit does not need to recreate a flagship department store, the sponsors of this Competition invite participants to use their imaginations in proposing possible uses for the site. Should it be an office tower? Apartments? A performance venue? Some combination of the above? Or something altogether different? The Opportunity Detroit team is looking for visionary proposals, inspiring ideas that could play an important role in the redevelopment of not only the Hudson’s site, but all of downtown Detroit as well.

The Challenge

Opportunity Detroit asks Entrants to create compelling visions for a new, urban development on the 92,421 square foot Hudson’s site. The sponsors are looking specifically for a signature project, one that can play a significant role in the regeneration of downtown Detroit.

Submissions should consider the significant history of the site, its physical and cultural context, and its potential for the future. Successful proposals will demonstrate optimism about revitalizing Detroit, with great architecture providing a positive, catalytic impact on the community.


This open Competition seeks to identify proposals for the future use of the Hudson’s site that:

  • Demonstrate original architecture and design concepts.
  • Present an innovative vision for the site.
  • Incorporate space for significant retail activity at ground level.
  • Provide a creative response to the site’s urban context – particularly as a signature project in downtown Detroit.

Special Conditions

Entrants (as defined herein) can propose anything for the site with the exception of pure open space or a park. Although a proposal may incorporate open spaces and plazas, they should not be the principle feature. Entries that propose a park or a use for the site that is predominantly open space will not be considered.

As this primary development site is crucial to creating a new vision for the future of Detroit, the sponsors would like to ensure a significant amount of the ground floor retains the ability to accommodate retail activity.

Community Objectives

    The Hudson’s site is located in a rapidly redeveloping section of downtown Detroit. The site has been empty for many years, a source of frustration to residents, who would like to see it once again provide an important architectural addition to the city. Some of the current community objectives for the site include:

  • Filling a gap in the existing urban context between Campus Martius Park and Grand Circus Park.
  • Helping to activate street life downtown
  • Helping rebuild the Woodward corridor
  • Providing a powerful new architectural addition to the city
  • Generating attention to positive developments within the city
  • Signifying rebirth in Detroit
  • Presenting forward-thinking ideas

Proposals are not required to address these issues, but Competition participants should be aware of them and may choose to investigate them in their proposals.

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Competition Announcement March 28, 2013
Registration Deadline April 30, 2013
*Final Questions Deadline May 13, 2013
*All Questions Answered by May 17, 2013
Submission Deadline May 31, 2013
Jury Selection June 6 & 7, 2013
Exhibition Dates June 8 & 9, 2013
Community Vote June 8 & 9, 2013
Award Results Announced June 12, 2013

* Questions may be submitted at any time between March 28 and May 13, 2013. Questions will be answered in the order they are received on a timely basis.

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The jury will award a total of three (3) cash prizes (“Prizes”) as follows:
• First Prize: $15,000
• Second Prize: $5,000
• Third Prize: $2,500

The jury will also issue no more than ten (10) “honorable mention” citations. Honorable Mention citations will not include a cash prize. Honorable Mention recipients should consider their award strictly as recognition of excellent work in this Competition.

This is an “Ideas Competition” only. Opportunity Detroit does not intend to award contracts for design services as a result of this Competition.

Employees of Rock Ventures family of companies team members are not eligible for any of the awards listed herein.

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Official Rules

Click here to read official rules.

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