Search results for "Detroit"

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A Poorly-Driven Decision

If GM closes five North American plants, how will their towns bounce back?
Last week, General Motors announced its intention to cut 14,000 jobs and close five of its North American plants in 2019. The automaker made the decision as part of a company-wide “global restructuring” process that will trim costs, though many consider the move to be part of an effort to enhance production in Mexico. As GM aims to save $6 billion by the end of 2020, five separate cities are about to experience a major shift in their local economies and take on newly-barren industrial landscapes. The plants expected to turn idle early next year include three factories: the Lordstown Assembly in Warren, Ohio; the Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly in Detroit; and the Oshawa Assembly in Ontario, Canada. Two transmission plants will also cease operations including one in White Marsh, Maryland, and another in Warren, Michigan. As the company only has 35 facilities in the U.S., this hit will be felt at the national level, but even more so in the small- to mid-size towns where many of these facilities have boosted jobs for decades or longer.  The Oshawa plant came online in 1907 while the one in Warren, Michigan, opened in 1941. The Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly, which began production in 1985, received local, state, and federal subsidies to open its doors and completely altered the city of Detroit. Jalopnik recounted the tragic story of GM’s move to the Motor City where the Detroit-Hamtramck facility’s initial development cleared 465 acres containing 1,300 homes, stores, churches, and hospitals in a Polish immigrant-neighborhood called Poletown. The youngest factory on the list, GM Baltimore Operations in White Marsh, opened in 2000. A $245 million structure was built next door just six years ago, adding 110,500 square feet to the existing 471,000-square-foot facility. According to the Baltimore Sun, it was the first electric motor production facility operated by a major U.S. automaker. The project was subsidized by a $106 million U.S. Department of Energy grant. Though former GM leadership wasn’t aware that less than a decade later this massive investment would go idle, the company’s sudden decision to shut down some of its oldest and newest facilities, begs the question: How will these towns bounce back? Some larger cities like Atlanta and New York have managed to reuse large, vacant industrial spaces, but it remains to be seen whether these smaller towns with shuttering GM facilities can pull that off given they don't have the population demand or the financial resources. As these locales transition over the next year, they’ll be forced to begin considering just how long these sites will remain unoccupied. Since opening, they’ve served as homes away from home for thousands of autoworkers who’ve helped bring steady money to their respective local economies. The closure of these plants, along with the millions of invested dollars that GM, the federal government, and these towns have made within the last 100 years, will come at a huge cost. 
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Rails to Trails

Competition opens to redesign Buffalo's old elevated rail line
Across the country, cities are reimagining old industrial landscapes as innovative parklands and restorative ecologies as a way to connect urban dwellers with nature and protect the environment. A new design ideas competition in Buffalo, New York, aims to revitalize the city’s 1.5-mile elevated DL&W rail corridor as a multiuse urban nature trail and greenway. The project is set not only to spur economic development for Buffalo but to reshape the city, becoming a local attraction much like the Toronto’s Bentway or Atlanta’s Beltline. Organized by the Western New York Land Conservancy (WNYLC), the competition invites architects, designers, landscape architect, urban planners, and artists to submit visionary concepts of the corridor as a nature-filled connector for downtown Buffalo, its waterfront, and the surrounding historic neighborhoods. The project is backed by several major sponsors, including M&T Bank and the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr., Legacy Funds, a group that’s part of the late Buffalo Bills owner’s namesake foundation which, just last month, pledged to invest $200 million in both Buffalo and Detroit’s parks and trails systems. The corridor is owned by Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority and has long been a focal point of potential redevelopment for residents and city officials alike. Last year, the WNYLC published a community vision for the site that will guide its future design. “After listening to the community’s hopes for the DL&W corridor, we are excited to give designers from Western New York and around the world a chance to show us how they would bring those hopes to life,” said Nancy Smith, executive director of the WNYLC in a statement. “This spring we will share the designs with the community and ask the community what they think of the ideas, what they like, and what they would do differently.” The competition will be judged by a jury of architects, educators, planners, and consultants including representatives from the University of Buffalo, Stoss Landscape Urbanism, and Friends of the High Line. The proposals will be unveiled online next spring and will also be featured in several public exhibitions in Buffalo. Three winners, including the jury’s favorite as well as the community’s pick, will receive monetary awards ranging from $1,000 to $7,500. To enter the competition, participants must register for free by emailing dlw@wnylc.org. For more information on submission guidelines and the competition brief, see here. An optional site visit for applicants will be held on January 4, 2019, and submissions are due February 15.
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Wake Up, Dematerialize

L.A. artist designs glitchy facades to revitalize stale housing models
If you are one of the many people concerned that apartments in American cities are all starting to look too much alike, there might be hope for you yet. Los Angeles–based artist and educator Elena Manferdini of Atelier Manferdini is currently working on a collection of glitchy apartment facades that aim to break up the monotony of some of those developments. With her designs, Manferdini is hoping to "re-open a discussion on the role of fantasy in art and architecture" by bringing beguiling geometric patterns and bright colors to at least seven multi-family complexes envisioned by FMB Development and a collection of other local architects, including Archeon Group, Dean Larkin Design, and Open Architects. Los Angeles–based FMB bills itself as a "community-oriented developer of luxury residential real estate," including the types of market-rate apartments that some Los Angeles homeowners might view as obtrusive in their neighborhoods. That's where Manferdini steps in by designing structures with interlocking blocks of patterned surfaces and expanses of varying opacity that work to simultaneously highlight and break down each of the proposed buildings. Manferdini explained that the designs are driven by the idea that, "facades are important for the city at large because they are inevitably the background of our public imagination." Manferdini added, "Facades negotiate how the privacy of human interactions come to terms with a surrounding cultural context." In L.A.'s densely-packed, low-slung urban neighborhoods, where privacy comes at a premium, sites are strictly limited in terms of height and allowable bulk, decorative elements help play a role in bridging the visual gap between existing housing stock and the types of multi-unit complexes needed to address the region's housing crisis. Manferdini's work for FMB builds on a series of exhibitions she crafted as part of her artistic practice, including the Graham Foundation–supported Building the Picture, a collection of drawing-photograph hybrid images that were exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago in 2015. For the exhibition, Manferdini created a series of fictional patterned facades partially inspired by some of the Chicago-based work of Mies van der Rohe. The layered, abstracted images proposed methods for obfuscating the underlying scale and window patterning of the hypothetical apartment structures by combining oblique and projected patterns on a collection of planar and faceted building forms. Manferdini explained further, saying, "The work insinuates that surfaces now have an unprecedented ability to be embedded simultaneously with optical affect and cultural associations," a concept that is ideally suited for testing in the real world through its application on the apartment buildings in question, according to the artist.

At 1017 Sierra Bonita, for example, Manferdini uses blue, white, and black Trespa panels, custom fritted glass, and gray stucco to lend a three-story apartment block atmospheric qualities. Hanging plants and balconies filled with hedges and landscape design by Green Republic Landscapes further dematerialize the five-unit building.

The Trespa panels make another appearance in red, blue, and black at 1408 Poinsettia, where Manferdini has arranged ascending striped patterns with vertical building elements that camouflage each of the three-bedroom small-lot subdivision homes. At 1139 N. Detroit, Manferdini pursues a more subdued approach by using custom-designed mosaic tiles and painted stucco. In each of the projects, Manferdini works to play off of the architectural elements using unconventional patterning and color choices, perhaps a welcome approach for Hardie-panel weary observers. The designs are due to come online soon: Many of the projects are currently undergoing planning review, and 1408 Poinsettia is currently under construction.
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Detroit's Tall Tale

Detroit to host Michigan's tallest building at former Hudson's site
The former Hudson's site at 1206 Woodward Avenue in Detroit will soon be host to Michigan’s tallest building. Designed by SHoP Architects, the development will top off at 912 feet, tying One Prudential Plaza in Chicago for the title of the 32nd tallest building in the United States. Previously expected to rise to only 800 feet, the structure will be a full 200 feet taller than the Renaissance Center, Detroit’s current tallest. SHoP’s newly released design drawings feature a stepped tower, scrapping the previous plans for an observation deck. “Stepping allows for terraces for amenities and possible hospitality spaces," said Bill Sharples of SHoP Architects on the updated plans. "The addition of new programming in the latest iteration of the design allowed us as architects and designers to break down the scale of the tower even further, and to approach it even more holistically, something we have been conscious of since the beginning of the project." The 1.4 million square foot development, which includes a twelve-story podium structure in addition to the tower, will be mixed use. The podium will house office, event, and exhibition space, while the tower will house hotel and residential units. Seven hundred parking spaces will be located within an underground garage. The development intends to link retail on Woodward Avenue with cultural destinations near the Detroit Public Library. Bedrock LLC was chosen as the developer in 2013 via an invited completion to study the potential to develop the former site of the flagship J.L. Hudson department store, and the firm has developed the site along with SHoP and Hamilton Anderson Associates of Detroit. The project will be partially financed through tax breaks to Bedrock via the Michigan Strategic Fund, as well as the MIThrive Initiative. The structure intended for the Hudson's site is one of four in the works for Bedrock that will be working with these programs. Built in stages from 1911 to 1946, the Hudson's flagship building on Woodward Avenue was once the tallest department store in the world at 25 stories. The store closed in 1983 and the building was demolished in 1998. A portion of the basement of the original structure was used for parking at the site until Bedrock broke ground on the new structure in December 2017. The new structure is not expected to show any verticality for another fourteen months.
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The Future is Green

Major investment coming to Detroit and Buffalo's waterfront park projects
As Detroit and Buffalo get set to take on two transformative park projects along their respective waterfronts, both cities have been generously backed by a philanthropic organization aiming to enhance green space and bolster community engagement. Today, the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation announced its pledge to invest over $1.2 billion in the cities by 2035 in honor of its founder, the Buffalo Bills’ late owner, and his centennial birthday. The Foundation is making a sizable donation to Western New York and Southeast Michigan—the two areas Wilson loved most—by committing a combined $200 million for upgraded parks and 250 miles of trails in the regions. A large chunk of that change will go directly to revitalizing LaSalle Park in Buffalo and West Riverfront Park in Detroit. With a design already envisioned by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA) and David Adjaye, the latter parkland will give Michiganites long-desired, tangible access to the Detroit River. Though the 77-acre LaSalle Park has stretched across Lake Erie’s edge since the 1930s, it’s massive potential for further beautification and elevated programming could increase the quality of life for Buffalo residents and beyond. Dave Enger, president of the Foundation, stressed that community involvement is the key to taking on these monumental landscape goals. “Foundations don’t build parks, communities do,” he said. “Our vision is really to support these wonderful projects and the people that have the vision.” The design process is well underway for West Riverfront Park in downtown Detroit. Situated atop a former industrial piece of land, the 22-acre parkland will be a year-round destination for fishing, skating or swimming, sports, entertainment, and family gatherings. MVVA’s proposal was chosen over 80 other submissions in an international design competition to reimagine the park, which was transferred from private ownership to the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy in 2014. Since their master plan was selected earlier this spring, MVVA has worked alongside the Conservancy and the Detroit Mayor’s office to garner feedback from locals and find out their personal ambitions for the park. The firm’s principal, Michael Van Valkenburgh, said his team especially loved talking to people aged 60 and older about their childhoods in Detroit—the places they loved and why. For many, the secluded Belle Isle was the only locale they could go to enjoy green space and the river at the same time. But that’s about to change thanks to these new ideas for downtown. “Not every place in Detroit has what New York’s Brooklyn Bridge Park offers—a way to touch the water and put your toes in,” said Van Valkenburgh. “Because Detroit is so vast horizontally, we knew needed to add shock and awe to the design to get Detroiters who were far away to come to the water. Michiganders feel defined by and proud that the state is surrounded on three sides by the Great Lakes. We thought giving access to the water, through this cove and beach creation, would be a big draw.” A construction start date hasn’t yet been announced for West Riverfront Park, but officials estimate it will be complete by 2022. Van Valkenburgh is sure the master plan will go through many design iterations before ground is broken and he’s excited about more community input. “I’ve been going to public meetings since 1990,” he said. “These have been the most uplifting public meetings I’ve ever been a part of. People come with a real sense that this park is going to be a big lift for the city. They really want it.” At the other end of Lake Erie is LaSalle Park in Buffalo. Though it’s a long-loved and well-utilized community treasure, city stakeholders agree that it could use significant improvements. In 1998, the city conducted a planning review to overhaul the expansive parkland and identify priorities for a new design and upgraded programming. That vision was never realized until the Regional Institute at the University of Buffalo began researching its history and surveying people through a project called Imagine LaSalle. A focus group even spent this summer exploring the park and visiting other famous green spaces in Chicago, Cincinnati, and New York for inspiration. “The feedback has been tremendous so far,” said Brendan Mehaffey, executive director for the city’s Office of Strategic Planning. “Part of the mayoral administration’s core values is inclusion so we’ve talked to people from all backgrounds including low-income individuals, young professionals, business owners, and more.” Community engagement is at the heart of both efforts in Buffalo and Detroit. Much like Imagine LaSalle, MVVA also transported a busload of teenagers to visit their Maggie Daley Park in Chicago, and other groups went to New York and Philadelphia. Mehaffey sees the connection between the two waterfront park projects, and the two cities in general, as vital to their respective successes. “The Detroit team is much further into the design process than we are, so we’re delving into their research to try and discover best practices for building our own LaSalle Park,” he said. “I think that commonality between us is part of what the Wilson Foundation’s statement is going to make to the country.” Enger also believes the two cities are inextricably important to one another—that’s why his organization has zeroed in on their combined futures. He emphasized that spurring economic development through green space is a key way to democratize the municipalities on a greater level. “Where else in the United States are you going to find world-class parks in post-industrial cities that overlook international border crossings and feature some of the most magnificent sunrises and sunsets?" he said. "We think the total leverage of this project will be far greater than what our investment will bring.”
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15 Years of The Architect's Newspaper

A brief history of architecture in the 21st century
To celebrate our 15th anniversary, we looked back through the archives for our favorite moments since we started. We found stories that aged well (and some that didn’t), as well as a wide range of interviews, editorials, and other articles that we feel contributed to the broader conversation. We also took a closer look at the most memorable tributes to those we lost, and heard from editors past and present about their time here. Check out this history of architecture in the 21st century through the headlines of The Architect's Newspaper:

2003

Protest: Michael Sorkin on Ground Zero

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

Crit: AIA Convention (“No more weird architecture in Philadelphia”)
Crit: Spring Street Salt Shed (“In praise of the urban object”)
How institutionalized racism and housing policy segregated our cities
Chinatown residents protest de Blasio rezoning
Roche-Dinkeloo’s Ambassador Grille receives landmark designation
Q&A: Jorge Otero-Pailos: Why the Met Breuer matters
Comment: Ronald Rael on the realities of the U.S.-Mexico border
Detroit Zoo penguin habitat opens
Chicago battles to keep Lucas Museum of Narrative Art from moving
Martino Stierli on the redesign of MoMA’s A+D galleries
WTC Oculus opens
Letter: Phyllis Lambert pleads for Four Seasons preservation
Q&A: Mabel Wilson
#NotmyAIA: Protests erupt over AIA's support of Trump
Snøhetta’s addition to SFMoMA opens
DS+R’s Vagelos Education Center opens
Baltimore’s Brutalist McKeldin Fountain pulverized

2017

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And the Winner Is…

The Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize announces its 2018 winner
The Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) College of Architecture has awarded the Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize (MCHAP) to Edificio E, a new academic building at Peru's University of Piura that features an economical but visually striking design by Lima-based Barclay & Crousse Architecture. The biannual prize is awarded to a recently built work in the Americas that demonstrates the highest standard of design in response to today’s changing environment. Sandra Barclay and Jean Pierre Crousse, principals at the award-winning firm, will be given $50,000 toward research and the development of a publication in conjunction with their work. The pair will also take the MCHAP Chair of Architecture at ITT. Edificio E at the Universidad de Piura is situated 600 miles northwest of Lima in a harsh, dry forest. The building features a series of individual lecture halls and administrative offices set up in a square and linked via interstitial, semi-exterior pathways and gathering spaces. Dubbed a “learning landscape” for the largely disadvantaged rural students that attend the university, the design was created to encourage social connection and the exchange of ideas. “The ambiguous, shaded exterior spaces sheltered by the buildings that form the whole were created to provide a place for informal learning and for life in the broadest sense,” said Barclay and Crousse in a press release. “It’s been immensely rewarding to see how students and professors occupy the structure, and to see how it’s created a new centrality on campus, where people stay independently of having classes.” The design team hopes the project will serve as an example for modest yet modern and expressive educational buildings for the future. Edificio E was informed by the other compact, concrete structures on the 321-acre campus, and it uses a simple layout and basic construction materials. Barclay & Crousse also designed it to withstand the potential earthquakes that are common in the northwestern region of Peru Edificio E was selected from 175 submissions across North and South America. Six finalists were announced in July after the jury, led by Ricky Burdett of the London School of Economic and Claire Weisz of WXY, took a 10-day trip of site visits examining the top projects. Among the final six were the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture by Adjaye Associates in Washington, D.C., as well as Truth North, by Edwin Chan in Detroit. Past winners of the MCHAP Americas Prize include 1111 Lincoln Road in Miami by Herzog & de Meuron, as well as Grace Farms in New Canaan, Connecticut, by SANAA.
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On This Rock I Will Build My Tower

Detroit's upcoming tallest tower teeters on final decision of total height
Downtown Detroit is slated to build one of the tallest buildings in the Midwest, set over the former footprint of the city’s iconic J.L. Hudson department store. Though construction on the project has already begun, the exact height of the soaring structure remains unresolved. Crain’s Detroit Business reported that the $909-million mixed-use tower planned for the long-vacant Hudson site could reach as high as 912 feet—an increase of over 100 feet from previous estimates. But the developers won’t make a final decision on its height until the end of January. This is the third time Bedrock LLC, owned by Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert, has increased its estimated elevation and updated the design. The complex is being designed by Detroit-based Hamilton Anderson Associates and SHoP Architects. Though the skyscraper won’t make the list of top 10 tallest towers in the country, it will break the record for the largest high-rise in the Motor City. As of now, the design shows the tower next to a nine-story podium connected by a public plaza and alleyway. It’s anticipated to include programming for residential space, and potentially room for hotel or commercial use. The additional 112 feet of height would allow the architects more flexibility in designing the building's various programs, according to Crain’s. Per the current designs, that number coincides with the established length of the elevator core.   The project was first announced in February 2017 with the tower reaching a maximum height of 734 feet. It was projected to feature space for retail and restaurants, events and conferences, offices and exhibits, as well as residential units. A public observation deck and an underground parking garage were also cited in the initial plans. Current renderings reveal two glass-clad, boxy constructions with outdoor terraces and greenspace. The project is estimated to take four-to-five years to complete. Demolition of the existing parking garage on site is nearly finished and foundation work is already underway. 
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Hospitality Watch

Shinola Hotel shares new interior renderings in advance of opening
The Shinola Hotel in Detroit has shared new renderings of its interiors in advance of an anticipated December opening. The hotel, which will stand at 1400 Woodward Avenue in Downtown Detroit will feature subdued, warm interiors designed by New York–based Gachot Studios and Kraemer Design Group. Gachot Studios, purveyors of warm, elegant interiors, has worked with Shinola on their Los Angeles and Brooklyn stores and has extensive experience in hospitality for other clients. Kraemer Design Group is a Detroit firm with experience in local historic renovation projects and ground-up construction. The new hotel will incorporate renovated historic buildings, including an old department store and a former Singer sewing-machine store. In addition to 129 guest rooms, the hotel will also include a mix of lounges and restaurant spaces to attract the broader public. The concept follows the lead of the Portland-based Ace Hotels or New York's newer Public Hotel, which include public amenity spaces and are meant to attract people to work and hang out. The renovated interiors incorporate products of Michigan and are meant to emphasize material craft. Pewabic ceramics, stone finishes from Booms Stone Company, and decorative metalwork from Great Lakes Stainless are all made locally and are used in the design. The project, a collaboration with Detroit developer Bedrock, capitalizes on Shinola's reputation for high-quality design. Shinola was originally founded in upstate New York in the 19th century and became well known for shoe polish, but in 1960 the company went out of business. In 2011 a venture capitalist bought the rights to the brand and used it to lend prestige to a line of watches and leather goods.
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God's Plan

A design competition brings kaleidoscopic sukkahs to downtown Detroit
After an international design contest that drew 78 entries from 14 countries, five winning sukkahs (temporary huts built for the weeklong Jewish holiday Sukkot) have landed in Detroit’s Capitol Park. The competition was part of Sukkah x Detroit, a celebration of Jewish culture, Detroit’s status as a UNESCO City of Design, and the city’s large number of urban farms; the chosen sukkahs make reference to all three. Sukkah x Detroit was an initiative of the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue as part of Detroit’s Month of Design, and all five winning designs will be on display until the festival’s end on September 30. Sukkahs are meant to be flexible and at least partially exposed to the elements, and observant Jews are expected to eat and sleep in the temporary structures during the seven days of Sukkot. All of the winning structures put a playful spin on the typical sukkah typology but were certified by two rabbis to ensure they met biblical requirements and were fully usable. Abre Etteh of New Malden, U.K., sought to evoke the light that filters through a swaying treetop canopy with his entry, Hallel. Painted blue plywood was used to form the structure of Hallel, while 500 freshly-milled cherry shingles were hung from the ceiling. The shingles all move with the breeze, and dappled light is reflected in a brass-covered bowl of water in the center of the floor. Gamma Architects from Gibraltar focused on sharing in both the physical and spiritual sense with their Shuk-kah. This sukkah was built from recycled white vegetable crates, ubiquitous sights at food markets around the world, which were used for the structure’s walls, furniture, and central table. A “roof” of bamboo scaffolding was installed overhead that would allow visitors to see the stars, and LEDs were run through the crates making up the walls, enabling the hut to softly glow at night. Noah Ives, of Portland, Oregon, reinterpreted the sukkah as an art object with his biomorphic Seedling Sukkah, which resembles a pinecone or hive at first glance. Laser-cut plywood “leaves” were used to tile the outside of Seedling Sukkah, creating a lightweight, open pavilion that references nature in both material and form. JE-LE, the only Detroit-based winner, took cues from the vibrancy and sculptural qualities of fruit for Pocket Space, by referencing the packed fruit ornamentations traditionally hung inside of sukkahs. Sukkahs are by nature designed to be intimate spaces, but JE-LE expanded the uses of Pocket Space through a series of rotating interior nets that can be adjusted based on use. Finally, the Cambridge-based Nice One Projects embraced the inherently paradoxical nature of the sukkah (a structure that by definition must remain exposed and open to nature) with Chaffy. Nice One took the premise to its logical extreme, attempting to “dissolve” all sense of hard walls by creating a continuous wall clad in thousands of thatch bundles. Inside, guests will find a respite from the outside world, allowing them to see out while remaining obscured. Sukkah x Detroit was modeled after New York’s 2010 Sukkah City, a competition that brought 12 high-design sukkahs to Union Square and spawned both a book and a documentary on the exhibition. Unable to make it to Detroit by September 30? The Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan and JCC Harlem are presenting five sukkahs designed by artists from now until October 8, including a scaled down version of Israeli architect Avner Sher's Jerusalem 950m2 (Quarter Acre) Alternate Topographies. All 78 Sukkah x Detroit entries can be seen online here.
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Industrial Inspiration

Charlotte is converting an old Model T and missile factory into workspaces
S9 Architecture is helping turn an old Ford Model T and army missile manufacturing facility in Charlotte, North Carolina, into the city’s newest hub for creativity and innovation. Camp North End, a long-empty industrial site just northeast of downtown, will feature 1.8 million square feet of office, retail, and event space set inside its historic, early 19th-century factory. New York-based developer ATCO Properties purchased the site in 2016 and opened it to the public last year. Various vendors have populated the grounds, and it’s been a hotbed of activity ever since, housing countless companies and office space for coffee roasters, media professionals, artists, and startups alike. It’s also been home to several exciting festivals and arts programs put on in the various open spaces. S9’s master plan for the 76-acre campus will transform the site into a sustainable spot for businesses to put down permanent roots. ATCO brought on S9 to collaborate on the adaptive reuse of the complex’s 12 main buildings and connect them through experiential passageways. In between each structure, the team will lay out gathering spaces for people to eat, hang out, or put on events. The build-out will also include space for future residential and hospitality developments. While many of the buildings on the site are already in use, ATCO and S9 are renovating four larger areas in the first phase of construction: the Gama Goat Building, the Mount, a 24,000 square-foot former Ford factory building, and the adjacent boiler building. The latter two were designed by Detroit architect Albert Kahn in the 1920s. The design will substantially retrofit the dilapidated structures and add a contemporary edge to the facility. This isn’t the first large-scale placemaking project the Brooklyn-based firm has done in recent years. S9’s design for Ponce City Market converted an outdated Sears building in Atlanta’s Old Fourth Ward into a coveted piece of real estate for top tech companies and local food vendors. Also under the firm's industrial reuse belt is Dumbo’s Empire Stores in New York City, as well as Dock 72 in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, home of WeWork’s New York headquarters.
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Bridging the Gap

Phillip K. Smith III illuminates abandoned historic Detroit sky bridge
This past month, architect-turned-artist Phillip K. Smith III revived the 100-foot-long walkway that links two of Detroit’s most celebrated skyscrapers with a dynamic light installation. Wedged between the Guardian Building and One Woodward Avenue, the suspended passageway was built in the 1970s to allow employees of the American Natural Resources Company and Michigan Consolidated Gas Company to pass freely between the two office buildings without interference from inner-city traffic and congestion. When one of the companies relocated in the 1990s, however, the bulky walkway was abandoned. Fortunately, the sky bridge has now been revitalized with a permanent installation by the California designer known for his extravagant, light-based, and Coachella-esque works of art. Phillip K. Smith III has completely transformed the neglected passageway into a vibrant, floating bar of light that electrifies the streets of downtown Detroit. “Detroit Skybridge is another example of how underutilized spaces can be reimagined for the benefit of the public,” said the owner of Library Street Collective, the art organization that conceptualized the project. “Phillip’s use of light and color, along with his understanding of architecture and scale, makes this a compelling project for the city.” Smith drew inspiration from the geometric white concrete of Minoru Yamasaki’s 1962 One Woodward building and the variegated interior of the 1929 Guardian Building. His design, which is composed of shifting tones and moving planes of light, has added a pop of color and a renewed interest to the historic city’s constantly evolving skyline. “By day, the Skybridge will continue to be seen as its historic self within the architecture and massing of Downtown. But by night, it will become a beacon for the beauty, creativity, and innovation of Detroit,” said Smith. “I am interested in creating experiences that tap into ‘universal beauty’—experiences that make us step away from our pattern, our life, our work, our errands, and allow us to see sublime beauty shifting and changing before our eyes.”