Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects has unveiled the design of their first-ever project in the United States: the Monroe Blocks, a new mixed-use development that will become an iconic symbol of the rejuvenation and future development of downtown Detroit. Prioritizing public access both indoors and out, SHL’s scheme will consist of Detroit’s first new highrise office tower in decades, more than 480 residential units and a network of new public plazas and green spaces.
Working with developer Bedrock Detroit and local architects Neumann Smith, Monroe Blocks will transform a 135,000-square-foot site located at the intersection of several of the city’s historic neighborhoods, connecting downtown to its surroundings and opening up arteries to future development. Entertainment spaces, retail, food markets, sports facilities and exhibition venues will attract a variety of people to site, while residential units will ensure the development is used 24 hours a day.
"Detroit is a unique place, I believe everyone living in the Western World has at some point been influenced or touched by Detroit. We all know or can relate to its legacy: the US automobile industry, the architecture of Albert Kahn and Woodward, and obviously the music,” said Kristian Ahlmark, Senior Partner at Schmidt Hammer Lassen. “We are honoured that our first US project is happening in this great city.”
“From our earliest visits, we experienced the unique optimism, energy and entrepreneurial spirit that defines Detroit. This project is very much a part of that movement. The challenge has been to create a new way of defining central business districts as a diverse and multifunctional area for the benefit of the wider community."
Collaborating with engineers Buro Happold and landscape architects SLA, the team will draw from SHL’s established principles of urban design developed in projects across the world.
“Our Scandinavian heritage has a strong influence on the way we approach city building on this scale. We always try to think urbanism, city space and the built environment in that order,” Ahlmark continues. “In Detroit, we found many existing spaces that held a great amount of urban qualities, but laid undefined due to the vast amount of open space.”
“Our project is very much about stitching together and re-establishing some of the indisputable qualities of the original masterplan. Whilst at the same time we aim to frame a new contemporary approach to city life - build on some of the keywords that Detroit is made of: Density, Dynamic and Diversity."
Construction on the Monroe Blocks development will begin early next year with a completion date set for 2022.
News via SHL
LocationDetroit, MI, United States
Architect of RecordNeumann Smith
EngineerBuro Happold Engineering
ClientBedrock Management Service LLC
PhotographsCourtesy of Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects