Dan Gilbert’s new hi-rise infill development to reconnect & revitalize downtown Detroit

There’s a void in the center of Detroit, Michigan. Okay, more than one. But the one we’re talking about here represents an important piece of the city’s downtown revitalization puzzle.

The infill site, outlined in white.

The right kind off infill redevelopment would use the 3Re Strategy; repurposing and renewing the site, while reconnecting it to some of the city’s key central public spaces: Cadillac Square, Campus Martius, Library Square, and Woodward Avenue.

These new connections will not only bind the city center but also enrich, strengthen and unify the already popular public spaces.

Located right at the center of the spokes that connect greater Detroit, the Monroe Blocks redevelopment is designed to do exactly that.

The designers, Danish firm Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects (SHL), hope to make it both a destination, and an icon to inspire future redevelopment of the downtown.

Of no surprise to anyone familiar with downtown Detroit’s renaissance, SHL’s client is Dan Gilbert’s firm, Bedrock Detroit.

At this historic site, the new urban icon will be integrated into the cultural heritage of the city of Detroit, offering a wide variety of good and accessible common spaces.

Monroe Blocks will combine downtown Detroit’s first high-rise office tower in a generation with over 480 new residential units. The project will re-establish historic alleyways, introducing new public plazas and green space while prioritizing the public realm both indoors and out.

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. 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”, says SHL Senior Partner Kristian Ahlmark.

The Monroe Blocks office tower will offer a combination of large floor plates, tall ceiling heights, and access to sunlight currently unprecedented in Detroit.

From Woodward’s plan of Detroit following the 1805 fire (above left) to the 1840’s map (middle) showing a dense urban downtown, the current city plan (right) shows a looser urban fabric with many empty plots. Monroe Blocks development will re-establish a missing part of downtown Detroit.

The project aims to stitch together the urban fabric, create porosity and add green spaces to promote gathering, socializing and interaction.

Drawing people into the site will connect to the flows going across the city between Ford Field, Comerica Park, and the future developments on Little Caesars Arena and its surroundings.

The small side streets will become shortcuts to other destinations in the city.

A shimmering 35-story office tower facing Campus Martius will be backed by impressive amounts of retail, residential apartments, and new public plazas and green space.

The entire project will make a diverse reflection on urban life. The mix of uses allows space for varied activities complimenting each other to make safe vibrant 24-hour public spaces.

Functions include office, residential, high-street retail, grocery stores and food markets, entertainment, sport and leisure facilities and the potential for exhibition spaces and performance venues.

Monroe Blocks combines 480 residential units in both high-rise and low-rise buildings. The project promises to be full of public spaces, pedestrian walkways, and green roof top terraces.

Bedrock is a full service commercial real estate firm based in downtown Detroit, specializing in the strategic development of urban cores.

With a portfolio of more than 90 properties totaling over 15 million square feet, Bedrock is the largest real estate partner in downtown Detroit. They also have a strong presence in the revitalization of downtown Cleveland, Ohio.

All images courtesy of SHL / Bedrock.

See SHL website.

See Bedrock Detroit website.

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