By: Charlie Payne, Designer

The Timeline:
Detroit: February 8-13
Dubai: April 12-18
Istanbul: April 18-28

Hurdles in Planning:
Such a large endeavor involved careful consideration of time and budget. I found that tickets to the middle east purchased within 6 months of the trip were prohibitively expensive, so the earliest I could leave would have been December. However, Istanbul is also known for its dismal winter weather. Records indicate precipitation for around 80% of the days from December to February, with temperatures averaging in the upper 30s to mid-40s. This left only a short window of time between the winter months and next year’s X-Ref competition, which the journey must be completed before. Thus I decided on two weeks in mid-April for the trip to the middle east.

This left limited options for the journey to Detroit. In order to establish an effective comparison between the cities, I needed the Detroit trip to be relatively close to the middle east trip without taking too much time away from the office at once. June would be too late, so the only months left after the holiday season were January and February. Detroit winter weather is almost surely as bad or worse than that of Istanbul, but options were limited and the middle east trip was far more expensive to plan. What will be interesting is the impact the season has on the perception of Detroit as a living organism; will it appear cold and dead, or will the life of the city stand in beautiful contrast to the stark winterscape?

Unforeseen Challenges:
By the time I was penning the proposal to visit Istanbul and Dubai the Arab spring had already began to erupt across the middle east. Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and many other countries experienced a sudden and turbulent upheaval. In Syria, Turkey’s southern neighbor, protests evolved into revolution, which spurred the bloody civil war that rages on to this day. As refugees continue to pour across the border in the thousands, Turkey has been barely able to keep itself removed from the conflict. While Istanbul is far from the heated southern border, the tension in the region will most likely be unmistakable and any excursions to areas beyond the city will need to be taken with the utmost care. The UAE (in which Dubai is located) was largely spared from the chaos, but it sensitivity to the conflict will still be necessary.

On a lighter note (but sad nonetheless) the heartbreaking loss of the Detroit Tigers to the San Francisco Giants in this year’s World Series will certainly dampen spirits in a city that has already been through so much. Pro teams winning championships can do wonders to enliven the spirit of a city. Losing a championship can be crushing, especially losing in the fashion that Tigers did. My hopes of visiting a Detroit reinvigorated by baseball victory were quickly dashed by the success of my home town team. If the Detroit does find a way to be reborn, it will need to do so without the help of major league victory, at least for now…

Next Steps:
With most of the travel and lodging logistics out of the way I’ll now be able to focus on research, research and more research. I’ll need a thorough understanding of each city before leaving, most importantly how the built environment has impacted the life of the city. Other aspects of each city will also need to be carefully studied, including population movement, cultural influences and economic factors. The great challenge, of course, will be documenting such a broad scope of issues in such a brief period time. The more research I can accomplish before the journey, the more efficient the documentation should be.