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Ford House renovations to restore historical elements, enhance visitor experience

Numerous renovations are underway at the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House in Grosse Pointe Shores in accordance with the Ford family's wishes to care for the environment.

Changes to the estate include major electrical upgrades and a new stormwater management system. The upgrades are the start of a series of improvements that will ensure the estate's historical integrity and enhance the visitor experience.

The family estate-turned-attraction offers public tours of the Albert Kahn-designed home and its grounds. It also serves as a venue for concerts and other special events.

The addition of a bridge to Bird Island, a peninsula created by the Fords and landscape architect Jens Jensen, is the only upgrade to the estate that will be visible to visitors. A piece of land was removed to to allow the water between the cove and the lake to move freely.

The bridge will let visitors step into the seclusion of the island and also learn about the surrounding bioswale.

The public is invited to visit the bridge at a free preview on July 8.

“We invite people to enjoy the estate just as the Fords did,” said Kathleen Mullins, president and CEO of the Ford House. “For our visitors, and for the future of the estate, we are enriching their opportunity to be part of the natural environment when they visit. And, we want to use the work we are doing as a means for understanding and learning about good stewardship. As they see the flow of water that is being naturally cleaned before entering the Cove they will understand how initiatives like this contribute to the health of our waterways. We invite our visitors to explore and discover this extraordinary estate, to spend time, to ask questions, and to take away ideas for how they might become involved with environmental initiatives in southeast Michigan.”

Source: Joe Ferlito, Franco Public Relations Group
Writer: Kim North Shine

Historic downtown Plymouth post office could be reborn as Westborn Market

The 1930s-era post office in downtown Plymouth, sold in 2013, could become the next location for metro Detroit-based Westborn Market.

The project hinges on whether city officials approve a request to add parking spaces and grant other variances for the property adjoining the post office, an 11,000-square-foot structure that would be renovated with most historical details intact.

Downtown merchants and local preservationists see the project as a meeting of economic progress and historic rehabilitation.

Westborn Market, a 50-year-old family-owned business known for its fresh produce, is seen as a gourmet alternative to mainstream grocers. The company currently has locations in Livonia, Berkley, and Dearborn. The former Pursell Station at 760 Penniman St. in Plymouth would be renovated to become Westborn's fourth market.

The Malcolm family of Plymouth, known for their passion for historic preservation and downtown revitalization, purchased the post office and bargained a lease agreement with Westborn's owners, the Anusbigian family. The city will decide whether to grant the project's special requests at a meeting on March 5. Without approval, the project, which will create jobs and become a day and night traffic generator for downtown, would not be viable.

In their application to be reviewed at the meeting, the Malcolms say, "In addition to providing excellent new products and services for our community, Westborn is expected to provide a significant economic multiplier value and benefit for the general downtown area in the form of attracting customers throughout the day."

Source: city of Plymouth
Writer: Kim North Shine

Cooley Law School's building ranks as one of world's most impressive

A rainwater harvesting system, a green roof, low flow plumbing and other eco-focused features has landed Cooley Law School in Auburn Hills on the list of the most impressive law school buildings in the world.

Best Choice Schools' independent ranking put Cooley, which has undergone major renovation and a 64,000-square-foot addition, at #35 out of 50 law schools. Architects and engineers from Rockford Construction and SHW Group designed the building.

Cooley's building on its Auburn Hills campus at 2630 Featherstone Road is a LEED silver certified facility that was constructed with sustainability at the fore. "Building architects sought to maximize light and air flow throughout the structure with large windows and open spaces," according to Best Choice Schools.

Cooley is the fourth law school in the U.S. to be LEED certified.

Source: Tyler Lecceadone, spokesperson, Cooley Law School, Auburn Hills
Writer: Kim North Shine


Construction to start this fall on Dearborn's City Hall Artspace Lofts

With most, if not all, approvals, funding sources and other demands squared away, construction on the City Hall Artspace Lofts in Dearborn can begin in the fall. Hopes are, when complete, a live-work-display-sell-perform campus will host an artists' community that has the potential to paint a rosy economic picture for the city -- if not the Metro Detroit region.

The project, which will renovate historic Dearborn City Hall into living spaces, workspaces, retail spaces, galleries and more, recently won a $500,000 grant from the Ford Foundation's Supporting Diverse Art Spaces initiative. City Hall operations will move down the street near other city offices in September or October, says Melissa Kania, of the East Dearborn Downtown Development Authority.

The East Dearborn DDA and the city of Dearborn are working with Minnesota-based Artspace to renovate the old city offices into an arts campus that could be an economic stimulant for the city and the region and build on Metro Detroit's history of invention and innovation.

The plan calls for 46 affordable live/work spaces for artists and their families, work studios, co-working spaces for entrepreneurs and artists, a live/work unit for an artist-in-residency program, and galleries spread out on the city hall campus off Michigan Avenue.

In similar partnerships around the country, Artspace has developed 35 affordable artists' communities, and another 12 are in mid-development. The projects add up to about $600,000 in investment in local communities. The Dearborn development is estimated to cost $15.7 million.

Neumann/Smith Architecture and Ghafari Associates have drawn up design plans for Dearborn City Hall Artspace Lofts. They feature high ceilings, tall windows and open floor plans that play off the historic style of the building.

A public meeting to learn more about the Artspace Lofts is planned for Wednesday, June 18, in Dearborn City Council chambers.

Source: East Dearborn Downtown Development Authority
Writer: Kim North Shine

Revival in the making for historic Hills Theatre in downtown Rochester

Local history lovers and civic boosters in Rochester are pushing a plan to bring back the 1940s-era Hills Theatre downtown, and the idea got a boost recently when a feasibility study showed it could well be economically viable.

If the idea moves forward, after a major fundraising campaign and renovation Rochester would join several Michigan cities who are turning to "theater-nomics" to add life and dollars to their downtown.

The 820-seat Hills Theatre is located in the heart of downtown at 412-416 S. Main Street, and a renovation could cost between $3-4 million.

The Rochester-Avon Historical Society started exploring the idea about two years ago, and along with the city's Historical Commission worked with a consultant, paying $15,000 to advise on the best use of the theater and how to proceed with a campaign and building plan.

While the crux of the project will rely on private donations, Mayor Jeffrey Cuthbertson has said the city could provide services, engineering and other professionals in the interest of building a downtown entertainment destination.

The supporters of theater revival also expect to ask the Michigan Economic Development Corp. to chip in on Rochester's project as it has in other cities.

Source: Rochester Avon Historical Society and city of Rochester
Writer: Kim North Shine

Lincoln Park Theater to become Lincoln Park Lofts

A retail and residential loft development that has potential to be a development magnet for downtown Lincoln Park is breaking ground in November.

Lincoln Park Lofts, an $11.7 million project spearheaded by the Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency, will take the place of a the Lincoln Park Theater that's been closed for several years.

The project is a rehab and restoration of the theater, which is local landmark. Construction will take about a year to complete and be leased by December 2013, says Erin Southward, communications manager for Wayne Metropolitan Action Agency.

Lincoln Park Lofts consists of 12 loft apartments, two retail spaces of about 1,200 square feet each. A separate building behind the theater will be built as well and consist of 24 units of affordable housing, Southward says.

Writer: Kim North Shine
Source: Erin Southward, communications manager for Wayne Metropolitan Action Agency

Specialty food market to open in downtown Pontiac's Lafayette Pl. Lofts

In less than a month downtown Pontiac will have a grocery store, one with fresh foods, take-out lunch and dinner, a butcher, a cafe with coffee and baked goods and wide selection of merchandise like nothing the downtown has seen in years.

The 10,000-square-foot The Layfayette Market will be run by Chris Monette, who's managed a successful market at Oakland University, and is part of the larger Lafayette Place Lofts, a project of developer Kyle Westberg's West Construction Services.

Next door to the market, which is at 154 N. Saginaw, will be an Anytime Fitness, and above the two businesses will be 46 loft apartments. It's all inside the former Sears Department Store, a behemoth of a building that's been closed for years. The structure has historic architectural components that are being incorporated into the renovation, including the market's wood floors, which are original.

The Lafayette Market will open Saturday, Nov. 17, and the apartments are expected to be completed in December. The market and lofts are close to Oakland McLaren Oakland Hospital.

In the meantime there is an effort to learn what the community wants in the store through an online survey.

"The community is very excited about this," says spokesperson Corinne Petras. "But the survey is to make sure it's clear what the community wants."

Writer: Kim North Shine
Source: Corinne Petras, spokesperson, Lafayette Lofts

Educational firm SHW Group nearly doubles Berkley office space

A national educational architectural firm is expanding its space, its menu, and staff in response to growing demand for the metro Detroit office.

SHW Group broke ground Sept. 4 on a 13,480-square-foot addition to its Berkley office at 2338 Coolidge, nearly doubling the size of the building to 28,680 square feet.

The company, which has offices in Austin, Dallas, Baltimore, Charlottsville, Houston, San Antonio and Washington, D.C., opened in Berkley in 2003 and has doubled its personnel since then, including 16 more jobs in the last six months, says Maggie Turner, a spokesperson.

The job creation has come from high demand from educational institutions and also from new areas the company ventured into: mechanical, electrical, and plumbing engineering. As the business has grown, so has staff, including a laid-off automotive engineer who's found a new career.

“In a little less than 10 years, we have experienced great growth, making us the second-largest employer in Berkley,” SHW Group CEO Marjorie Simmons says. “This addition will allow us to continue to provide our clients with the same quality of service and specialized expertise they have come to expect from SHW Group.”

SHW's new office, which is expected to be completed in February, will be built with conservation and environmental protection in mind and according to a plan that meets the standards for silver LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

Source: Maggie Turner, Sunwest Communications, spokesperson for SHW Group
Writer: Kim North Shine

At Cooley Law School in Auburn Hills jurisprudence is green

Thomas M. Cooley Law School's main purpose is teaching the law to students, but it's the school's efforts to build an energy-efficient, sustainable and eco-conscious campus in Auburn Hills that's become the latest learning experience.

The school has achieved Silver LEED status, a certification that comes from the U.S. Green Building Council after a review of projects seeking the LEED - Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design - designation.

The certification was awarded to Cooley's renovation of of an existing 68,227-square-foot building previously owned Daimler Chrysler. The renovation began in 2007 and was ready for students in January 2008. The project also added a 64,518-square-foot structure to the building. The addition was completed in early 2009.

Cooley’s Auburn Hills campus, 2630 Featherstone Road, was designed and constructed in collaboration with Rockford Construction and SHW Group, both LEED-accredited firms charged with incorporating sustainable design practices into the project.

“Cooley Law School takes into account the best possible practices being used in construction, including sustainability, in all of its construction,” says William Schoettle, Cooley COO and vice president of operations, in a statement announcing the silver LEED award. “Ultimately, LEED building practices made sense financially. It saves money for the school over the long term and preserves natural resources in the process.

Cooley's conservation focused features include:

-The use of no or low toxicity paints, sealants, carpets and wood materials
-A reflective roof that cuts reflects light, insulates the building and keeps it cooler in warm months
-A roof with soil and plants that will soak up water and keep it out of storm and sewer systems. It also reduces energy consumption year round
-Low flow toilets and plumbing fixtures will conserve water
-The use of water efficient landscaping
-Interior lighting will be controlled by room usage and also use lower wattage lights. The building design uses natural light to provide lighting.
-A heating and cooling system that uses outdoor fresh air for power and cooling
-Maintenance practices such as lowering window shades during the warm months were added to staff duties

Cooley Law School’s Auburn Hills campus is the only law school facility in Michigan to achieve LEED certification. The school is only the fourth law school in the nation to be LEED-certified.

“Cooley Law School has answered my call for Oakland County businesses and residents to find ways to reduce their energy consumption,” L. Brooks Patterson, Oakland County executive, says in the statement. “Last year, we opened the nation’s first LEED Gold certified airport terminal at Oakland County International Airport. The terminal’s utility costs have dropped from 70 cents-per-square- foot to 39 cents-per-square-foot, a real savings to taxpayers. I’m sure we’ll see some of those savings at Cooley.”

Source: Tyler Lecceadone, spokesman, Thomas M. Cooley Law School
Writer: Kim North Shine

Landmark Vinsetta Garage to house metro Detroit's next hot restaurant

It's the hottest - maybe most mouth-watering - restaurant news in metro Detroit at the moment: the rebirth and transformation of the iconic Vinsetta Garage on Woodward in Berkley.

The brown paper covering the windows of the old station is staying on for now, but the kitchen will start turning out its creatively souped-up comfort foods at 4 p.m. today, June 1, owner Curt Catallo says. It's good prep for expanding to lunch service in a couple of weeks, he says.

Vinsetta Garage, a gas and service station that closed in 2009 but remains an architectural treasure, will go by the same name but turn out award-winning, burgers, mac & cheese and other dishes that can be described as home cooking meets every man's gourmet.

"We'll leave the paper on the windows and the sign off for a few days, so we can get our sea legs (so to speak)," Catallo writes in an email to metromode.

It's the latest venture from the people who brought metro Detroit the restaurant of the year in 2011, the Clarkston Union Bar & Kitchen, and Union Woodshop, which it calls a big-time small-town barbecue joint, also in Clarkston.

With Vinsetta Garage's opening and plans to turn a fire hall in Fenton into another restaurant - it's awaiting the OK of city officials there - the owners are on the verge of creating a mini-restaurant empire that, according to food critics, is taking metro Detroit - and Michigan's - restaurant options up more than a notch.

It's not only good food news, to many, but a sign of economic promise as a team of "70 or so very passionate individuals" will staff Vinsetta, including at least four full-time jobs.  More hirings are happening now to cover the lunch service, he says.

While Vinsetta is eating up the attention at the moment, the Clarkston Union and Union Woodshop, Food Network favorites, are used to being under the heat lamp. A recent episode was filmed with Kid Rock and host Food Network host Guy Fieri.

According to Facebook and a June 1 story in Crain's Detroit Business, the restaurant opening has been much anticipated and private events leading up to opening day are creating suspense.

"Been waiting for so long. Happy to hear it's almost time," says one post. "I'm only in town until Monday morning. Hook me up!" pleads another.

The food, the work of chef Aaron Cozadd, may be the highlight, but the interior design and decor, both the work of Catallo's wife Ann Stevenson, and renovation decisions such as converting the old gas pumps out front into electric car chargers is sure to lead to table talk.

"As groovy as it was to work through the preservation," Catallo writes. "We're ready to start running the joint and bringing people back to the garage once again."

Source: Curt Catallo, owner Vinsetta Garage and Facebook pages of Vinsetta Garage and Clarkston Union Bar & Kitchen
Writer: Kim North Shine

Is a boutique hotel in Royal Oak's future?

A group of investors and developers are floating plans to turn the closed Fresard car dealership at 400 N. Main St. in Royal Oak into a boutique hotel, apartment building, and restaurant complex.

A preliminary proposal to redevelop the prominent downtown spot went before the Royal Oak Downtown Development Authority last week.

The property owners, who closed on the building and plot of land surrounding it about two weeks ago, are asking if the DDA would commit to some level of financial support at some point.

Dennis Griffin, who represents the investors on behalf of commercial real estate company CBRE, and Jason Krieger, a DDA board member and architect who drew up renderings of the plan, told DDA members that it needed to gauge the board's interest in order to approach the Michigan Economic Development Corporation about financing opportunities and development incentives.

"Obviously there's a whole bunch of details that have to be worked out," Tim Thwing, the city's director of planning, says. The tentative plans call for a 100-room, eight- to nine-floor boutique hotel with restaurant, bar and meeting rooms on the first two floors along with a 5-6 floor apartment building and a parking structure. Investors are interested in an operator such as Hotel Indigo, Krieger says.

The former Buick-Pontiac-GMC showroom would be renovated into a restaurant, bar and banquet facility, Krieger told the DDA board May 16. The investors, and Hotel Indigo - if it signs on -  would want local business owners to operate them.

"They really want to get entrenched in the community," Krieger said at the DDA meeting. "They want it to be a Royal Oak place with their branding."

At the request of the DDA board, which did express interest in supporting the project financially, the owners and operators will eventually return to the DDA with a timeline and more details, possibly within weeks.

The Fresard dealership closed six years ago, and it is also the site of a failed Kroger grocery store proposal that was rejected by residents.

Source: Royal Oak Downtown Development Authority
Writer: Kim North Shine

Ferndale casket company is reincarnated as office lofts, studios, and retail spaces

A former casket-making company in Ferndale has been reincarnated into a urban-loft style office space for entrepreneurs.

The development, 360 Hilton, on Hilton near 8 1/2 Mile just off Ferndale's downtown, has been renovated into eight units, four upstairs and four downstairs. The spaces are relatively small, between 1,200 and 2,400 square feet, and ideal for small businesses, one-person operations, says Michael Ziecik, principal of the Forum Group, a Bloomfield Hills firm that is the broker and manager of 360 Hilton.

The spaces are intentionally small, ideal for small businesses, entrepreneurs working in a variety of fields. The city has been progressive in changing its zoning to allow for mixed uses such as retail, light industrial and office in the same building, Ziecik says.

"Ferndale's a destination today. That wasn't always the case. A big part of that is the city and the chamber working to make Ferndale a friendly place to do business ... They've taken traditional zoning and changed it to allow for creative uses, and we're seeing a lot more traffic," he says.

Originally the plan was to attract artists to small studios, but with Russell Industrial Center in Detroit and more recently the opening of Rust Belt Market on Woodward near 9 Mile in Ferndale, the developers marketed to small businesses, says Ziecik.

"It's great that Detroit's become a place people want to go, where things are happening," he says.

Tenants at 360 Hilton include a t-shirt designer, a fitness trainer, a spa, an internet sales company. Renovations on three of the units are ongoing and the leasing price is meant to offer amenities of a Royal Oak without the pricing of Royal Oak, Ziecik says.

The redesign has included new heating and cooling system and open-air windows that open up as well as epoxy floors, exposed ductwork "that give it a edgy urban feel," Ziecik says.

Source: Michael Ziecik, principal, Forum Group Commercial Real Estate
Writer: Kim North Shine

Walkway over downtown Northville takes another step forward

A two-story walkway that will provide a convenient -- and eye-pleasing -- way in to the heart of downtown Northville is picking up pace.

The project limped along recently when the City Council withdrew funding, but the Northville Downtown Development Authority says the loss will soon be made up and the walkway, which will span East Main Street, will be built.

The walkway is expected to cost about $700,000, much of it paid for by federal grants and other sources. About $100,000 is still needed.

Catherine Woods, special events coordinator for the Northville DDA, says the walkway will make travel into downtown easier.

"This would keep pedestrians from walking around the block," she says. "It would be a cut-through that takes your right near Town Square," where concerts are held, Wi-fi users hang out, and people have lunch.

"It's about making it more accessible for everyone, and it will be especially convenient for the elderly, people with disabilities, women with strollers, everyone." Woods says.

Besides the opening of the walkway, the DDA's 2011-12 initiatives include a street-scape enhancement project, new downtown signage, and electric car parking and charging stations, among other projects.

Source: Catherine Woods, special events coordinator for the Northville Downtown Development Authority
Writer: Kim North Shine

LTU continues renovating Frank Lloyd Wright house

A lot of sanding, a lot of scraping, and a lot of staining is how recent Lawrence Technological University graduate Doug Metiva plans to spend his summer.

Metiva is working on and living in the university's Affleck House in Bloomfield Hills, designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright, for the third summer in a row. This summer, he hopes to refinish much of the wood throughout the house, including the hallways, bedrooms and bathrooms -- work he started with former fellow student Justin Butler.

Metiva will continue with the project as he looks for a permanent job after graduating in May with degrees in architecture and construction management. "The school is kind enough to let me stay working on this, to finish what I started," he says. "It's kind of been a work in progress. I'd like to see it finished."

Lawrence Tech also received a $7,500 grant for the re-creation of furniture for the 2,300-square-foot house, which was completed in 1941. The house was donated to the university in 1978 and has since been used as a teaching tool for students in Lawrence Tech's College of Architecture and Design.

The Affleck House is on the State and National Registers of Historic Places, and is one of the 50 most significant structures in the state, according to the Michigan Society of Architects.

Source: Doug Metiva, recent Lawrence Technological University graduate
Writer: Kristin Lukowski

University of Michigan's Five Fellows turn house into public art

Opportunity leads to art in Detroit. In this case, it's a combination of University of Michigan students and Hamtramck's Design99 studio.


Five University of Michigan architecture fellows, through the help of Design99, purchased the house at 13178 Moran from the city's foreclosure auction for $500 and have turned it into their architectural canvas and a piece of public art for the neighborhood.

Inside you'll find a Q-Bert-esque staircase, a space called the "Tingle Room," another staircase leading up to a skylight, a removable nook in the back, and the garage drilled with 1,000 holes and jammed with 1,000 glass tubes. Each would require more than 1,000 words for explanation.

"We've collaborated but we have five different projects throughout the house," says Ellie Abrons, one of the fellows.

Read the rest of the story here.
49 Architecture Articles | Page: | Show All
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