ODA New York has been tapped as the design architect for the ambitious and high-profile adaptive reuse of Downtown Detroit’s historic Book Tower. ODA, known for historically significant renovations like Rotterdam’s Postkantoor and New York City’s 10 Jay Street, will apply their expertise of designing a mix of residential and hospitality, retail, and office space at the Book Tower.

Originally designed by Louis Kemper in 1916 in an Italian renaissance style, the 486,760 square-foot structure took a decade to build. Acquired by Bedrock in 2015, a Detroit-based full-service real estate company, the recently completed extensive exterior restoration included replacing 2,483 historically-accurate windows and full restoration of the ornamental cornice with caryatid statues.

Interior demolition photo of a tower

An in-progress construction photo from inside of the tower. (Courtesy ODA)

“The Book Tower has been an iconic part of Detroit’s skyline for nearly a century,” said Melissa Dittmer, Chief Design Officer at Bedrock. “and throughout the meticulous exterior restoration process it became clear we needed to partner with an architect that understands how to leverage modern uses in a way that preserves the unique historic details that have endeared this building to Detroiters for generations.”

ODA’s strategic role is to update and expand on Book Tower’s programming and existing structures, creating nearly 500,000 square feet of mixed-use space downtown that will blend public and private. “The Book Tower will serve as a point of engagement,” said Eran Chan, ODA New York’s founding principal, “unlocking its potential as a link in the heart of Detroit; bringing people, place, and events together. The Book Tower represents to us Detroit’s regeneration; how the city, standing in its unique and distinguished history, is entering a new time that is more diverse, more inclusive and more sustainable.”

Detroiters will be offered a renewed take on a building full of memories, as the public has been invited to tour the Book Tower as part of Detroit Design 139, an exhibition focusing on projects in Detroit that embody “inclusive futures.” Bedrock officials and ODA will present “A Look Inside Book Tower” on Saturday, Sept. 7 from 1:30-6 p.m.

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