Ecorse Road businesses benefit from creative design assistance program

Taylor business owners on Ecorse Road between Pelham and Monroe are participating in a business design assistance program developed by the City of Taylor Planning Department in collaboration with the design team Design Michigan.

The Ecorse Road Design Program continues from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, July 21, at Taylor City Hall, 23555 Goddard Road.

Design Michigan, which is a non-profit design assistance program of the Cranbrook Academy of Art, is conducting a visual audit of businesses within the district and developing guidelines for low-cost design recommendations for improving facades, signs and paint schemes. The results of the audit were presented July 11 at City Hall.

On Friday, the design team will present additional design ideas for district gateways, on how corridor businesses can improve business access and parking, and how groups of adjacent businesses can work together to create destination zones to increase business exposure and the rate of customer capture.

An additional set of educational design guidelines will be produced to help businesses make design improvements that will benefit the individual business and provide visual continuity for the district as a whole. As part of the program, a voluntary business façade and sign-grand assistance program also is planned to encourage and support businesses wishing to make design improvements.

Based on the program’s success, it is hoped that similar programs can be developed for other business districts throughout the city.

The Cranbrook Academy of Art is a statewide partnership program of the Michigan Council for the Arts and Cultural Affairs. The program is made possible by a generous grant from the Masco Foundation. Masco is a Fortune 200 company whose world headquarters are located in Taylor.

Members of the Design Michigan design team have outstanding credentials and experience. They are Howard Deardorff, the founder of Deardorff Design Resources in Ann Arbor, representing the American Society of Landscape Architects; Jeffrey Corbin, president of Jeffrey Corbin Designs Inc. in Traverse City, representing the Society of Environmental Graphic Designers; and Jack Williamson, executive director of the statewide Design Michigan program of the Cranbrook Academy of Art.

For more information on the project, contact City of Taylor Planning Director Patrick Depa at (734) 374-1573.

Biographies of the Design Michigan Design Team follow.


Howard Deardorff - American Society of Landscape Architects
Howard Deardorff received his B.S. in Landscape Architecture (BSLA) from The Pennsylvania State University in 1964 and his Masters in Landscape Architecture (MLA) from the University of Michigan in 1966. After working in professional practices in Florida and Pennsylvania, he returned to Michigan to teach design and graphics at the University of Michigan and is currently an Adjunct Professor of Landscape Architecture in U-M's School of Natural Resources. He joined the Ann Arbor firm of Johnson, Johnson and Roy in 1980 where he served as a principal and design studio director focusing on urban design and downtown revitalization. In 1986, he founded Deardorff Design Resources in Ann Arbor. His award-winning firm has done projects in twenty-two states, the Cayman Islands, and the Czech Republic. They recently completed the first National Heritage Area Management east of the Mississippi River in Yuma, Arizona. Recent Michigan downtown revitalization projects include work for Sault Ste. Marie, St. Charles, Lansing's East Michigan Avenue Revitalization Study, East Lansing's Grand River Boulevard, and on-going work in Chelsea. The firm recently led an interdisciplinary team of five heritage/urban design specialists for the city of Ogden Utah's downtown, National Heritage District. Mr. Deardorff has authored streetscape design guidelines for Architectural Graphic Standards. He also served as a consultant to the Environmental Protection Agency defining the urban design and greenway opportunities created by clean water legislation by authoring the publication The Benefits of Clean Water: Emerging Greenway Opportunities. He is a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects.

Jeffrey Corbin - Society of Environmental Graphic Designers
Jeffrey Corbin received a B.A. degree in 1967 and a B.S. degree in Architecture in 1968 from Rice University. He is president of Jeffrey Corbin Designs, Inc. in Traverse City, Michigan, a graphic and interior design firm, founded in 1976. Prior to forming his own firm Corbin was, for eight years, Vice President of Interior and Graphic Design for the former CRS in Houston, Texas. His projects include municipal identity and signage programs for the cities of Grand Haven, Traverse City, Petoskey, and Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, as well as Madison, Wisconsin, Muncie, Indiana, and Los Angeles, California. Corbin has designed façade restoration projects ranging from historic preservation to the contemporary treatments emphasizing graphic and architectural imagery, as well as numerous corporate identity and signage programs for retail, banks, corporate headquarters, museums, and over fifty hospitals and medical centers across the nation. He has served as President of the Traverse Symphony Orchestra, Chairman of the City Opera House Heritage Committee, as a Rotarian and as Chair of T.C. Air, a group organized by the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce to improve commercial air service to the region by promoting the use of jet aircraft. He is a member of the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA), a founding member of the Society of Environmental Graphic Designers (SEGD), a member of the Design Michigan Advisory Council and Treasurer of the Association of Professional Design Firms (APDF).

Jack Williamson - Cranbrook Academy of Art
Jack Williamson is the Executive Director of the statewide Design Michigan program of Cranbrook Academy of Art, and has developed numerous information and technical assistance programs on architecture, landscape architecture, urban design, interior, industrial and graphic design for Michigan communities, institutions, business and government. He has developed statewide conferences and workshops on design in community revitalization and, as part of the Community Design Advisory Program which he founded in 1987, has worked with public and private organizations and individuals to help them undertake and manage their own community design and revitalization programs and projects. He has also been a professor of Design Studies at the University of Michigan School of Art & Design where he taught design history, theory, criticism and research at the undergraduate and graduate levels. He taught the first design management courses in the MBA Program at the University of Michigan School of Business Administration and has been a faculty member of the Business School's Executive Education program. He has served on advisory or review boards for the Michigan Mainstreet Program, the Michigan Department of Commerce, the Michigan Municipal League, the Michigan Department of Education, the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, and the National Endowment for the Arts. He is the author and editor of several books, including Community Design Management, Design and Cultural Responsibility, and, with co-author, Katherine McCoy, Our Design Universe. He lectures and has written numerous articles on public.