Former Theater Houses a New Creative Spirit

Joel Smith

The vision for the renovation of this1917 structure was to create a hub for high tech entrepreneurial activity and special events that would be instrumental in the rejuvenation of the City of Detroit. As a think tank for young, creative minds, the space had to be edgy, and most importantly, express the building’s urban context.

Embracing the existing rawness of the structure (a former1920s-era movie palace), the design combines exposed brick and block, clay tile ceilings, concrete and steel columns and beams, and concrete floors, with instances of custom graphics and murals of 1920s Detroit, urban light sculptures, and modern furniture.

Keeping as much intact as possible, existing brick and clay tile became a meaningful design feature. Masonry brought warmth and texture to the space, balancing out concrete and steel elements. Even existing graffiti, seen as artwork, was left in place on several of the old masonry walls. Instead of dry walling over the history of the old theater, Neumann/Smith Architecture preserved its natural state, using it as an element to attract vibrant tenants.

Another jewel of the renovation is a stunning rooftop terrace where existing masonry piers were restored, capped, and complemented with stainless steel cable rims to enhance the modern look.

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