Detroit Mayor Dave Bing has launched a spirited public debate over how the city should be transformed into a far more efficient place. What might it look like? TIME asked renowned landscape and urban designer Diana Balmori to create a vision that reflects some of the ideas Detroit is talking about. Balmori, author of A Landscape Manifesto, says the thinking has to start with "people and what they care about" in their urban experience. Another consideration is the region's natural assets. In Detroit's case, those include fertile soil and an abundance of an increasingly rare commodity: fresh water.
Detroit needs to bridge its waterfront and port area with regional centers. The proposed light-rail line along Woodward Avenue is a good start, says Balmori
Abandonment of homes can become an opportunity by allowing the creation of a green corridor of forestland that can encircle a portion of the city. The contiguous greenbelt gives wildlife far more room to roam
Rich soil would allow an expansion of the city's urban-farming movement. Hydroponic gardens could grow on the flat roofs of former industrial buildings
The shrinkage of the city's population by more than half has left many homes surviving on isolated blocks. The city needs to focus its resources on creating denser, more viable neighborhoods