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Rosa Parks Transit Center design highlights tensile strength

It is appropriate that the seven tent-like canopies over the more than two acres of exterior bus access area are tensile structures. Like Rosa Parks herself, the soaring, translucent fabric allows light in where it would be dim, and holds its ground by possessing enormous inner tensile strength. The $22.5 million Rosa Parks Transit Center opened in July 2009 at the corner of Cass and Michigan Avenues in Detroit.

Rosa Parks Transit Center and one of the fabric forms over the exterior bus access area
photo/ A. Miliacca

A tough, flexible glass-coated fiber material was used for the fabric canopies, after research of similar structures, including Detroit's Chene Park. In 2007 the Detroit Economic Development Corp. approved a $5.5 million contract with USAShade & Fabric Structures Inc. of Costa Mesa, California to provide the materials for the spectacular exterior roof.

The three-story, sleek and angular support building was designed by Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB), an international firm based in New York City with 150 offices on six continents. One of their regional corporate offices is located on Griswold in Detroit. The general contractor on the project was DeMaria Building Company with corporate headquarters on West Grand Boulevard in Detroit, and a regional office in Novi.

The 25,000 square foot facility's interior is designed to include a waiting area, information booth, cashier’s office, café, retail space, automatic ticket vending, restrooms, transit police offices, transit services, and a Detroit Police Department mini station.

Owned by the City and funded by state and federal grants the center is intended to serve as a 24-hour central connection to 21 Detroit Department of Transportation bus routes, the SMART suburban bus system, Transit Windsor bus routes, and the Detroit People Mover. A taxi stand is provided to extend the reach options of this hub. The plan also incorporates provisions for the city's future light rail system to connect to the station.

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  • Patty Davis 5 years ago

    Great looking structure. Thanks for sharing.

  • Nancy Nash 5 years ago

    How appropriate for this tribute to Rosa Parks and how far we all have come since then!

  • Ed - Albuquerque Travel Photography Examiner 5 years ago

    Nice read and very interesting. I look forward to more.

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