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A Bold Metallic Facelift for a Building in Detroit

University of Michigan students make use of the city’s abundant architectural skeletons, rather than overlooking them.

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“Detroit is an interesting place to think about architecture. There is not a ton of new construction, and there does not need to be,” says University of Michigan graduate student Justin Mast. In a city that has been attracting with its untamed ruins more so than its habitable architecture these days, Mast and his fellow students at U Michigan’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning envision a new Detroit that makes use of the city’s abundant architectural skeletons instead of overlooking them. “We are thinking about what the practice of architecture looks like after school in Detroit,” Mast adds.

Out in North Corktown, Detroit, locals can get a glimpse of what the future of the city may look like: Mast is among 13 University of Michigan students behind a new permanent installation at a vacant storefront, soon to be revived into an artist live-work space. According to Curbed, the one-story structure once had a curving glass façade, which had been crudely replaced with concrete block when the students first happened upon the site. The challenge became to make the space more open without making it vulnerable to break-ins. The students responded with a distinctive, perforated metal grating, wrapping the storefront in a distinctive façade of pleated metal triangles.

By day, the installation shocks with its fluid sense of movement; contrasted with the smooth, streamlined husk of the former auto repair shop’s original façade, the jagged, undulating metalwork respects its site’s humble origins while wildly innovating upon it. By night, the lattice of triangular openings lets out the light from within, giving the façade a shimmering, luminescent texture. The project dazzles with its jarring juxtaposition of old and new, refusing to conceal its cut-and-pasted, collaged aesthetic.

Credit for this great project goes to project teammates Anand Amin, Andrew Aulerich, Lauren Bebry, Ashley Goe, Tarlton Long, Justin Mast, Andrew McCarthy, Matt Nickel, Kurt Schleicher, Andrew Stern, Lauren Vasey, Nina Wang, and Brenna Williams, along with studio leaders Catie Newell and Maciej Kaczynski.

All photos courtesy University of Michigan. This post originally appeared on Architizer, an Atlantic partner site.

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