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Steven J. Urban

Ann Arbor 1925 Paper Art Map

Ann Arbor 1925 Paper Art Map

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Urban Grid paper art. 


Steve J. Urban’s paper art work illustrates development patterns in Detroit as well as other cities in Michigan.  He uses Sanborn Property maps as a template, and hand cuts construction paper to illustrate the building patterns in black and white. Keeping the contrast simple, a variety of rich patterns emerge from the paper. The variety of building sizes, building shapes and setbacks make for a complex mosaic of urban settlements.  

Central to this piece of the Central Campus Core is the “Diag” which was originally known as the Diagonal Green.  The “Diag” is framed by North University Ave., East University Ave., South University Ave. and South State Street.  As a point of reference Hill Auditorium is located along North University Ave.  To the upper right of this piece are several buildings which at the time were known as the University Hospital.  The “Old Main” the building shaped as the letter “Y” in the far upper right was opened in 1925 and was the state of the art hospital at the time. It was demolished in 1989.

About the Artist:

During his career as an architect, Steve J. Urban was intrigued by the patterns of the “built environment” within a city.  Meaning the footprints of buildings such as houses, commercial and industrial buildings as well as roads and highways.  The development of any city was shaped by many natural and man-made factors and features.  Unfortunately, the majority of the older areas featured in his work are disappearing without a record of what was there, leaving citizens without a sense of history.  Steve’s artwork is an attempt to document this urban history.


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