Local Information

The Local Organizing Committee for the IEEE PES 2011 General Meeting would like to welcome you to Detroit. We are all local members of IEEE that love working and living in this area. There is a lot to enjoy here both in the downtown area near the Renaissance Center hotel and in the surrounding area. We hope that the information on this page will make your stay a little easier and more enjoyable.

Ground Transportation

To/From Detroit Metropolitan Airport

The best way to get to and from Detroit Metropolitan Airport and the meeting site in the Marriott Renaissance in Downtown Detroit is via either taxi or a Metrocar. Both are available at the ground transportation center at Detroit Metro Airport (DTW). Follow the signs in the airport to the ground transportation center. A taxi from the airport to downtown Detroit will cost about US$43. Metrocar offers luxury car service for about US$53 to Downtown. Reservations for Metrocar are not required but recommended. Metrocar can handle return transportation as well. Please check with your hotel for the best way to get back to the airport.

Getting Around Downtown Detroit

The meeting hotel is the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center and is located on the riverfront in Downtown Detroit. The best way to get around the downtown area is via the People Mover. The People Mover is an elevated light-rail system that travels in a loop around the downtown area. Most locations in the downtown area can be reached via a short walk from a People Mover station. Both the Marriott Renaissance Center and the Courtyard Marriott (in the Millender Center) have a People Mover stop at that location. The fare is US$ .50 per ride. Tokens can be purchased at many downtown retailers or via machines near the People Mover stops. The tokens are not refundable so be careful not to buy too many tokens from the dispensing machines. Many of the People Mover stations have unique original art in the form of sculpture, murals, and mosaics. Wikipedia has a good overview and history of the Detroit People Mover.

Taxis are also available from most hotel lobbies and can be used to get to/from some of the close by areas such as Mexicantown, Hamtramck, the cultural district and the New Center areas that are not accessible via the People Mover.

Getting Around Metro Detroit Area

Detroit is known internationally as the Motor City. For good reason. To get around outside of the Downtown area or to/from the Airport will generally require an automobile. Taxi service outside of downtown and entertainment/cultural venues is sporadic and generally requires either a reservation or a wait after a phone call. If you want to get out and about and enjoy the many activities in the area outside the downtown area a rental car would be recommended. Rental cars are available in the downtown area via both Hertz and Enterprise.

Meeting Venue - Renaissance Center

Detroit Renaissance Center

The Detroit Renaissance Center is a unique architectural treasure on the Detroit waterfront. Locals call it simply the "RenCen". The Detroit Renaissance Center was built in 1977 as a symbol of Detroit's renaissance. In Those of you familar with the Peachtree Center in Atlanta will recognize the similarities as both were designed by the architect John Portman. General Motors purchased the RenCen in 2000 and undertook a complete rennovation which was completed in 2004. Fortunately for all of us, the renovation dramatically improved the ability for visitors to navigate inside and get to the various levels and meeting rooms with the addition of a new walkway, several new escalators, a entirely new waterfront entrance called the GM Wingtergarden. A virtual visit to the RenCen will give you a general idea of the venue.

The structure consists of 5 towers. The central tower contains the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center and is 73 stories tall. One of the best restaurants in the area is the Coach Insignia located at the very top of the hotel with breathtaking views of the entire area including the metropolitan Detroit area, the Detroit River, Lake St. Clair, and Windsor Ontario. The outer 4 towers are each 39 stories tall and contain the corporate headquarters for General Motors. These 5 towers rise above a massive internal space comprised of 6 levels with a circular walkway around the structure. Escalators are used to navigate between the levels. The bottom level has the GM Wintergarden, GM World showcase, and a food court. The other levels have access to various shopping and entertainment venues including access to the People Mover.

Most of the rooms for the PES General Meeting will be in the top 3 levels of the RenCen foundation. There is a separate motor lobby where you enter the main structure from ground transportation. Elevators will take you up to the main hotel lobby. You will need to take an escalator or elevator from the main hotel lobby to get to the upper meeting room levels. Some of the sessions are located in the GM Training Center. Volunteers will be available to help guide you and get you to where you need to go. Below is a level-by-level description of the RenCen to help your navigation of the venue. Click on the levels to get a printable layout of each level.

Level A
  • GM Wintergarden
  • Detroit Riverwalk Entrance
  • Food Court (Burger King, Sandwich Place, Zoup!, Salsarita's Cantina, Subway, McDonald's, Gyroland, Fish City, Coney Town)
  • Restaurants (Andiamo's (Wintergarden), Presto Deli (Wintergarden), Rice Bowl (Tower 200))
  • Shopping
Level 1
  • Marriott Motor Lobby Entrance
  • Seldom Blues Entrance
  • Jefferson Street Entrance
  • Bar One (Center Bar)
  • Restaurants (Calumet Market (Tower 300), Coffee Beanery (Tower 300), Potbelly (Tower 300), Cupcakes & More (Tower 200), Gourmet Deli (Tower 500/600))
  • Starbucks
  • Shopping
Level 2
  • Center Glass Walkway
  • GM Office Entrances
  • Walkway to the Millender Center and Courtyard Marriott
  • People Mover Entrance
  • Shopping (including CVS Pharmacy)
Level 3
  • Ontario Exhibit Halls
  • Ambassador Ballrooms
  • Marriott Main Lobby
  • 42 Degrees North Restaurant at the Marriott
  • Volt Lounge at the Marriott
  • Coach Insignia Restaurant - Elevator to the top between Towers 200/300
Level 4
  • Renaissance Ballrooms (Cabot, Columbus and Cartier)
  • Meeting Registration at the Renaissance Foyer
  • Meeting Rooms: Michelangelo, Monet, Davinci, Raphael, Renoir, Greco
Level 5
  • Mackinac Ballrooms
  • Meeting Rooms: Duluth, Nicolet, Brule, Richard, Cadillac, Lasalle, Marquette, Joliet


Detroit Waterfront

Detroit Riverwalk

The Detroit Riverfront is a jewel of North America. Overlooking the Detroit River that separates Windsor, Ontario on the Canadian side and Detroit, Michigan on the USA side, it is one of the few places on the planet where you can look south and see Canada (without floating on ice in the Artic Circle). The Detroit Riverfront is the birthplace of modern boat racing. During the prohibition era fast racing boats were developed here to smuggle whiskey from the Seagrams distillery (still there) in Canada to the USA. Every year hundreds of thousands still gather along the shores of the Detroit River between Detroit and Bell Isle to watch the US Power Boat Association's Gold Cup hydroplane races.

For the PES General Meeting visitor the riverfront provides an excellent place for a brisk run or a leisurely stroll to relax from the day's activities. The Detroit Riverwalk runs from the Ambassador Bridge (the world's only privately owned international crossing) to the Belle Isle Bridge (the largest urban park in the US). The Riverwalk Promenade is completed from Joe Louis Arena (home to the Detroit Red Wings) to Bell Isle. The riverwalk provides scenic vistas and great people watching opportunities. You will definitely want to bring your camera when you venture here. The Riverwalk is easily reached on Level A of the RenCen via the GM Wintergarden entrance.

Downtown Activities and Restaurants

Visitdetroit.com has some excellent maps of the various Detroit neighborhoods that lists restaurants and other attractions. See also Digdowntown.com for links to many downtown Detroit activities and restaurants. Here is just a sampling of what is available to the PES General Meeting attendee in the downtown Detroit area:


The Coach Insignia is at the very top of the Renaissance Center. Founded by Matt Prentice it is one of the finest restaurants in the area. The entrance is at the elevator on Level 3 between Towers 200 and 300. At a minimum it is worth a ride to the top and a few drinks in the bar to take in the view of the entire waterfront along with much of Windsor and Detroit.

Andiamo's Riverfront is on Level A adjacent to the GM Wintergarden. Andiamo's is a Detroit area tradition and offers excellent Italian cuisine. You would be amazed at how good a simple grilled portabello mushroom can taste.

42 Degrees North is the Marriott restaurant and offers great meals along with outstanding views of the waterfront.

Just 2 people mover stops away is the Greektown historical district. Since the 1920s this quaint neighborhood has provided all day and all night Greek food and drink in a lively atmosphere. Pegasus, New Parthenon, Olympia, and Hella's are some of the Greek restaurants in this neighborhood. There is also modern cuisine at Mosaic's and American food at the Monroe St. Cafe. Seafood with a cajun flair is available at Fishbones while the Astoria Pastry Shop can tickle your sweet tooth. There are also numerous bars, pizzerias, and a large full-service casino for those that like games of chance.

Although it takes a taxi ride to get there, Hamtramck offers some excellent ethnic cuisine. Hamtramck is a small city completely surrounded by Detroit and is home to a large Polish community. Some of the best authentic Polish food is available at Polonia's and the Polish Village Cafe. Likewise, the Mexicantown area has restaurants that offer authentic food from south of the border.

Activities and Attractions

There is lots to do in Detroit to help you relax after the technical meetings or for a memorable vacation in a historic urban environment. Here is a sampling of some local activities:

The Detroit Tigers are in town playing the California Angles at Comerica Park from 28 July through 31 July. The Tigers are battling for first place in the AL Central so expect an exciting home series.

The Detroit Institute of Arts is located in the cultural district and is easily reached via taxi or rental car. The DIA has been newly remodled and has an outstanding collection.

The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History is located in the cultural district and is a one of kind museum that highlights the contribution of African-Americans to both the local and national story.

The Detroit Historical Museum in the cultural district will take you back to the founding of the city over 300 years ago and show you how the area has grown and changed over the years.

The Detroit Science Center is in the cultural district and will provide the entire family with an entertaining way of exploring science and technology.

Francesco Demuro is at the Detroit Opera House on 30 July.

Pewabic Pottery is short ride from the hotel. Established in 1903 Pewabic provides some of the finest cermic tile available anywhere.

The John K. King Books store is Michigan largest bookstore and offers an outstanding collection of scholarly and rare books.

For those of you interested in games of chance there is the Greektown Casino, MGM Grand Detroit Casino and the Motor City Casino all in the downtown area. Greektown can be reached via the People Mover while Motor City and MGM Grand can be reached via a short taxi ride. All of these casinos offer games of chance, restaurants, and entertainment. You must be age 21 or older to enter these casinos.

The Henry Ford and Greenfield Village

Don't make the mistake of coming to Detroit and missing these outstanding venues. They are both unique one of a kind attractions that are especially of interest to power industry professionals. Both are located in Dearborn, MI between downtown Detroit and the airport. If you are coming to Detroit you would well advised to spend an extra day or two and take in both of these national treasures.

The Henry Ford Museum was the result Henry Ford's vision to capture for posterity the history of the United States of America. It includes displays of trains, planes and automobiles and much much more. Exhibits include Buckminster Fuller's house of the future, Paul Revere's silver work, displays of domestic life illustrating how technology has impacted the home-making professions, and some of the oldest steam engines that were ever built. The featured exhibit is "Discovering the Civil War" from the national archives commemorating the sesquicentennial of the American Civil War. There is also an IMAX theatre on the site.

Greenfield Village is like being transported back to 19th century America. Henry Ford purchased numerous historic buildings and painstakingly moved them and rebuilt them here in Greenfield Village. Everything from Daniel Webster's house to Thomas Edison's original Menlo Park Laboratory to the original Wright Brother's Bicycle shop is right here (people in Dayton, Ohio are still angry about that last one). There is a turn of the century power station on site which anyone involved in PES will find worth the trip alone. Take a ride in a real Model T and then have lunch at the Eagle Tavern to experience what is was like to eat in a 19th century tavern. Completely authentic right down to the wait staff (but using 21st century food safety technology!)

You really don't want to come to the Detroit area and miss these 2 outstanding attractions.

Other Area Attractions

The Detroit Metropolitan area offers a wide variety of activities. Below are just a few of them:

The Cranbrook Art Museum and Science Institute has a number of activities including the public display of an ancient mastadon. The Cranbrook Institute has several outstanding with exhibits displaying everything from art to mastadons to minerals.

The Edsel and Eleanor Ford House is hosting the Fantasy, Folklore & Fairy Tales exhibit on the shores of Lake St. Clair.

Meadowbrook Hall

Michigan is not known as a water winter wonderland for nothing. The Detroit area boasts literally thousands of lakes and hundreds of rivers. Some of the best fishing in the world is avialable in the St. Clair River, Lake St. Clair, and the Detroit River that connects Lake Huron to Lake Erie. Boat ownership in the area is among the highest in the world and charter fishing is a big industry. Check it out at the Michigan tourism bureau site.