Department International Planning Systems

Master project 2014

Shrinking Smart – revitalizing Flint to cope with the spatial effects of urban decline

Duration: 23rd April – 16th July, 2014 (12 weeks)

Participants: 6 students

Tutors: Prof. Dr. Karina Pallagst, René Fleschurz 

Language: German, literature and interviews partly in English 

The City of Flint, MI in the USA is one of the most researched examples of a city dealing with the decline of the manufacturing industry in North America. The city's most important employer, General Motors (GM) used to have around 80.000 well paid jobs in its Flint factories. Today only approx. 8.000 remain. The participants of this year's master project therefore had the chance to study the effects of this process and to review the methods used by urban planners and city officials to cope with the financial and social challenges at hand.

The project's goal was to develop scenarios for the development of Flint within the guidelines of the new master plan "Imagine Flint". These scenarios should be presented in an exhibition to show the various problems and challenges as well as possible solutions. The following questions had to be answered: What redevelopment strategies are included in the new master plan? What future use for vacant buildings and empty lots is possible given the current economic development in Flint? Is the recent approach for redevelopment in Flint also applicable for other cities with a similar history of decline?

To answer these questions the students conducted and analyzed interviews with local stakeholders and experts and reviewed existing planning documents. Followed by this was the development of different scenarios to show the possible use of abandoned buildings and vacant space for the remaining people in neighbourhoods with strong symptoms of decline.



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