The unofficial rallying cry for Genesee Towers is probably "Tear It Down!" In a city that seems to love leveling old buildings, no structure has generated more wrecking ball lust than the two stacked boxes marring the view of the Mott Foundation Building. But instead of eliminating Flint's tallest building, what if we tried to improve it?
An architecture competition to repurpose the tallest building in Flint, Michigan yielded original concepts and raised questions about downtown development for the restructuring industrial town.
The building is a 19-story former bank tower with eight parking levels, an open-air service deck, and ten floors of offices. It fell into disrepair in the 90s: the previous mayor, a car dealer, ordered it condemned and, he hoped, demolished. After years in court, Flint homeowners were soaked last year with an additional average tax of $130 for acquisition of the building and legal fees. Previously Genesee Towers was disliked and considered an eyesore. Afterward it was bitterly hated.
This past September, the 40-member-strong AIA-Flint launched a competition to save the structurally sound 1968 high-rise and program it for future development. The results, announced April 8th, generated lots of local interest. “It showed people in Flint that maybe there is something that can be done with this building rather than just tearing it down,” said John Gazall of Gazall, Lewis Architects, who organized the competition and displayed the boards in his glass-walled office next door.