Yes We Kahn

Two Detroit art deco icons to be redeveloped and preserved

Midwest Preservation
Two art deco icons to be redeveloped in Detroit. Seen here: the interior of the Fisher Building. (Courtesy Király-Seth/Wikimedia Commons)
Two art deco icons to be redeveloped in Detroit. Seen here: the interior of the Fisher Building. (Courtesy Király-Seth/Wikimedia Commons)

Two of Detroit’s iconic art deco buildings are getting some much-needed love from their new owners. The Fisher Building and the Albert Kahn Building in the New Center area will be getting an injection of $100 million in redevelopment, according to the Detroit News.

The Fisher Building is a National Historic Landmark and on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. The 30-story building was completed in 1928, and was credited with helping spur the development of New Center. Designed by Joseph Nathaniel French of Albert Kahn Associates, the original plan was to construct a three-building complex of two 30-story towers and one 60-story tower. The Great Depression hit shortly after the completion of the building, dooming that plan. It is said that French took cues from Elial Saarinen’s second place design for the Chicago Tribune Tower when designing the Fisher Building. Along with the highly ornate 2,089-seat Fisher Theatre, the building also includes a three-story barrel-vaulted lobby which is decorated in mosaics and tiles made of 40 different types of marble. The new owners, development company The Platform, plan to focus on bringing more retail and hospitality back to the building.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Kahn_Building#/media/File:AlbertKahnBuildingDetroit.jpg

The Albert Kahn Building shares many design details with the Fisher building, as both buildings were designed by Albert Kahn Associates. (Andrew Jameson/Wikimedia Commons)

Also owned by The Platform, the Albert Kahn building, named after its architect, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as well. Located near the Fisher Building, the two buildings are connected by two underground pedestrian tunnels. Currently, the building is laid out as office space, 30% of which is full. The plan for the building’s redevelopment includes bringing retail back to the base and converting the upper levels into over 150 new rental apartments. Detroit-based Albert Kahn Associates, current tenants in the building, will continue to have its main office after the renovation.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fisher_Building#/media/File:Fisher_Building_Lobby_(4634810509).jpg

The Lobby of the Fisher Building was designed by Hungarian artist Géza Maróti. (Dig Downtown Detroit/Wikimedia Commons)

The redevelopment of these two buildings is in anticipation that surrounding neighborhood, which has seen recent growth, will soon look to the New Center area for more space. Along with available building stock for redevelopment, the under construction QLine (Detroit’s future light rail) will also run directly from New Center to the downtown. Other developments in the area include an outpatient cancer center to be built by Henry Ford Hospital and the expansion of the Motown Museum.

While many details, including tenants and specific designs, have not been released yet, it is anticipated that construction will begin the Fisher and Kahn buildings in mid-to-late 2017.

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