Pulte Homes Development

2010

In 2010, the PulteGroup, Inc. brought their Centex Homes division together with Cranbrook to sponsor a competition for the next American Home. Instead of focusing on creating a new form of American housing, I was fixated on the current housing crisis facing the country. I was much more interested in what was going to happen in the present than focus on future housing scenarios.

Abandoned homesites and developments from Florida to California lie waiting for a single homeowner. What happens to all of these unused spaces? What can interventions can take place in a landscape of voids?

 

 

 

After presenting the previous ideas at a midterm critic, the representatives from Pulte were extremely interested in the idea. Pulte has been severly affected by the housing bubble bursting, They sent me several stalled development sites near Cranbrook so I could study a tangible site. I chose The Ravines at Stonegate in Lake Orion, Michigan.

Development at The Ravines  at Stonegate began in 2006 with site clearing. There were three phases of buildout planned, each adding approximately 60 homes for a grand total of 189 homes. One year after the initial site clearing, 34 homes had been built, with significant deviation from the initial phased site plan. Three years after that, in 2010, only 9 houses had been added to bring the total to 43 homes built.

A screenshot from the Pulte Homes website indicates the development lifestyle they are marketing to potential buyers. The existing houses are scattered throughout the development, leaving singular houses alone in a field. There is still significant construction detritus throughout the development creating an unsafe environment for the residents.

I proposed a new strategy for development organization – a temporary solution for an ideally temporary problem. The first phase of intervention introduces additional program to create a better environment for the existing residents. The interventions are meant to facilitate development at a later date – a half developed site has interesting characteristics, lending it useful for a variety of uses. The land is cleared, utilities are in place, and there are sidewalks, streetlights and curbs.

Different programs are established in different zones, creating variety for the current and future residences. Ornamental tree saplings are planted in the northwest corner of the site to be used in future landscaping. One of Southeastern Michigan’s university landscaping or civil engineering programs are invited to study the effects of the run-off created by large scale clearing on the uncleared portions of the development. The maintenance of the large cleared areas of land is a large expense and potential eyesore for existing residents. Seeding the empty lots with ornamental grasses would eliminate a large portion of the maintenance required and add seasonal color. A playground could be built on the site of the planned community center – a lesser expense for Pulte and a great benefit to the neighborhood. The cleared land without any existing construction could be lent to a nearby school for a demonstration organic farm. The farm would be at a small scale and could provide produce for the school and residents. Finally, a walking trail is woven through the development, connecting all of the amenities and the neighborhood. It weaves together all of the zones and provides opportunity for more chance encounters amongst the residents creating the community they initially bought into.

 

 

This project received an Honorable Mention as part of the Centex-Cranbrook Competition.