Services Rendered Site planning, design, 3D modeling & renderings, construction documents, construction administration
Team Developer: Prince Concepts Design Architect: EC3, Edwin Chan Architect of Record: Studio Detroit Photography: Chris Miele, Michele & Chris Gerard
Awards 2017 Progressive Architecture Award Architect Magazine Cover, February 2017 Multi-Family Development of the Year, Architect’s Newspaper, 2017 Mies Crown Hall America’s Prize Finalist, 2018
True North is a mixed-use development and open community that has put Detroit on the map in a new way. In addition to receiving two national design awards and being one of six finalists for the 2016/17 Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize, the project is the first new construction in Detroit’s Core City neighborhood in 60+ years.
For aesthetic and economic reasons, the client desired to utilize Quonset Huts, a prefabricated lightweight structure. The client sought a visionary design team to transform the Quonset Huts from its preconceived purpose into a welcoming and hospitable design for contemporary living in Detroit. One of the first steps of the design process was to host a community engagement barbeque and several rounds of questions and answers. Following the green light from both the community and the city, True North proceeded into construction and was fully realized in less than one year.
The .57-acre development is comprised of nine rental residences and shared community spaces with over 40 newly planted trees. Located two-and-a-half miles from Downtown Detroit in a quiet, spacious neighborhood, it is pioneering for both where and what was built. Each hut is strategically placed across the site to maximize openness and security, views and privacy, socializing and solitude. Each structure is assembled on top of a four-inch concrete slab with in-floor radiant heat, which is also the units finished floor. The end walls feature custom steel framing around polycarbonate panels that provide privacy, security, natural light and thermal value. Each interior is unique and designed to inspire different creative lifestyles in Detroit, with sizes ranging from 475 to 1,600 square feet. Most of the units feature an interior polycarbonate “island” containing a kitchen, a bathroom, and a mechanical/storage closet. Above the island, a mezzanine platform provides occupants with a flex for any use, to encourage a variety of creative people to call True North home.
Program 3 rental apartment units and an owner’s suite with entertainment space
Services Rendered Space planning, design, 3D modeling & renderings, construction documents, construction administration, design/ build
Photography Michelle & Chris Gerard, Sam Sklvr
The original building, constructed in 1904, began its’ life as a neighborhood hardware store. The new owner has renovated the rather bleak structure to accommodate his home and three additional living units. The structure has been transformed from a bandaged building into a unique home with a diverse palette of textures, tones, and patterns.
Entertaining was a major component which drove the open plan. The space remains flexible, allowing for a large dinner engagement or a pop-up art exhibition. Wherever possible, existing finishes and materials were kept intact including hardwood and concrete floors, interior brickwork, and original decorative columns. Wood elements were sanded and stained a dark matte finish along with custom fabricated wood details made to match existing profiles found in the building.
The street facade, previously damaged on the second story by a fire, was rebuilt previously with a solid concrete block wall. The new design now maximizes the natural light and views of the city with large openings. In the owner’s suite, the glazing extends from the main floor, up along the spiral staircase into the bathroom. On the east exterior wall, a series of windows were punched through the existing load bearing brick to open the additional units up to the courtyard.
There was an opportunity for the facades to enliven and activate the spaces around the building. The east façade adjacent to the courtyard became a canvas where a large mural was commissioned. The southern street facade became a canvas in its own way; it needed a solution that spoke to the activities and energy of the residence and the neighborhood. Given constraints of budget and scale, a natural redwood decking was chosen as cladding. To further engage the street, the cladding was designed to ‘wave’ and ‘ripple’ while extending over the sidewalk. The choice of the unfinished natural wood and steel allows the texture and tones to change and evolve with time.
Services Rendered Planning, design, 3D modeling & renderings, construction documents, construction administration
Team Developer: Prince Concepts Photography: Michelle & Chris Gerard The Study, two Quonset live-work spaces, was the predecessor to the award-winning development, True North. It served as an experimental project to work through the initial visionary ideas of the developer, Philip Kafka. Working through various elements of a development - from zoning challenges all the way through construction detailing. The Study allowed the project Team to see first-hand many of the challenges that were to come with trying to make the utilitarian Quonset structure an inspiring and efficient living space. By solving those challenges real-time, we were able to put the lessons learned into practice throughout the future development of TRUE NORTH.
Services Rendered Construction documents, construction administration
Team Developer: Prince Concepts Design Architect: Undecorated, Ish Rafiuddin Architect of Record: Studio Detroit
The Caterpillar is a 1-story pre-engineered building that will house 8 residential units, a covered breezeway, exterior porches, and landscaping. It is the third project in the Core City neighborhood to study the use of the Quonset hut as the walls and ceiling construction for live/ work apartment units - following The Study and True North.
Services Rendered Laser scanning as-built, design, 3D modeling & renderings, construction documents The existing two-story masonry dwelling was built in 1910 in the Brush Park Historic District. The building sat in poor condition, devastated by a previous fire. Its two-story porches are missing, and no exterior doors or windows remain. Studio Detroit and the developers set out to bring this historic building back to life, updating the original layout to accommodate a more feasible density, while still maintaining the original door and window locations, as well as bringing the original roof line, dormers, and details back. The renovation is designed to include 6,312 GSF with 8 rental units. Its scope includes brick repair / tuckpointing to match existing, limestone sill repairs, chimney repairs, new windows, a re-built roof, completely new interior wall and floor construction, a new stepped down window well for basement unit egress, and a new wood and brick two-story porch to match the 1976 photograph with doric columns, brick piers, pre-cast steps, brick wing walls, and a new wood railing.
Services Rendered Laser scanning as-built, code-study, design, 3D modeling, construction documents
A rehabilitation of an existing 4-story multi-family structure located in the historic Cass Corridor. The new work includes replacement of all doors and windows, upgrades to existing dwelling units, and “white box” of the entry level retail units.
This residence had a challenging program of being large enough for 3 separate families to share while simultaneously existing within setbacks and outside of the floodplain. The basement level includes 3 bedrooms, laundry, kitchenette, entertainment space, and a walk out patio. The first floor which is the entry level from the street, accommodates storage of winter and summer gear for three families and an open kitchen, living, and dining room. The living room also includes a two-story butt-glazed glass wall that reveals the view of the lake. The second floor has 3 master bedrooms and 3 master bathrooms. The program is all contained within a 3-story corten steel box with punched openings and a roof-top terrace.
Services Rendered Site planning, design, interior design, 3D modeling & renderings, construction documents
This renovation of an existing three bedroom - two bathroom residence includes 400 SF of additions. The additions contain a new mud room entry and second floor master bath. The project re-imagines the simple form of traditional alpine chalets through a modern lens of minimalism. The road facing facade contains symmetrical modest window openings to embrace privacy while the lake facing living space reveals floor to ceiling glass. The minimal nature of the designs form and finishes aims to encourage occupants to look beyond the architecture and instead, engage with the surrounding landscape.