Track 1: Decline vs. Revival: Tempering the Impulse to Tear Down and Start Over

General Abstract

Urban Revitalization in the Midwest: Adaptation of Building Shells into Living Buildings

Wednesday, September 26
8:30 AM - 10:00 AM
Location: HYATT-Grand B

The Great Lakes industrial cities of Detroit and Bay City, Michigan, like many urban industrial centers across the U.S., are experiencing a resurgence in redevelopment of existing buildings. As we enter an era where more than half of the world’s population lives in urban areas, cities are seeing more of the existing underused and abandoned buildings adapted for new uses. This activity is drawing visitors and new residents to old downtown cores.

However, too often does the glamorous end product of redevelopment overshadow the complex path to its completion. Despite the growing momentum, the financial and personal investment is daunting and although the development of historic buildings share many of the same problem sets at the macro level, the solution is never straightforward as each building history and context presents unique restrictions. Spotlighting case studies is one way to refine the process and make redevelopment of historic buildings appealing to investors and communities.

Adapting historic office buildings to housing or hotel use requires design around a specific set of code requirements that were not considered during their original construction. Existing structure, mechanical, and electrical systems were not designed to support residential needs such as bathing, sleeping, and cooking. Character-defining historic features of these buildings must also be preserved, especially if historic tax credits are funding the work. Incorporating the historic elements from an office into housing or a hotel building can be an additional design challenge.

For this session, three case studies will be presented that exemplify the architectural, structural, mechanical, and code considerations involved in the transformation of a non-residential historic building into urban housing or hotel. The projects that will be discussed include:
• A 1925 former office and retail building in downtown Detroit that originally housed dress shops, millineries, and wholesale jewelry dealers and manufacturers is being rehabilitated as an extended stay hotel with 110 guest rooms. Construction will be completed December 2018.
• A 1926 former office building in downtown Detroit, originally constructed for the Wurlitzer Company for instrument display, sales, and music studios, rehabilitated as a 106 room boutique hotel. The rehabilitation includes four food and beverage venues within the building. This project will complete construction in April 2018.
• A 1891 former office building in downtown Bay City originally slated as a tear down for a drive-thru bank branch will be rehabilitated as 26 luxury apartment units. Construction on this building will be complete September 2018. This project allows for discussion of hotel requirements vs. apartment units and the challenges presented.

Key design issues related to code compliance, unit layout in an existing building, and historic preservation of significant interior elements will be presented for each case study.

Learning Objectives:

Jennifer Henriksen, AIA

Senior Associate
Quinn Evans Architects

Jennifer Henriksen, AIA, is a Senior Associate and Project Manager at Quinn Evans Architects. Jennifer is a senior member of QEA's Heritage Conservation Studio and has been essential to the firm's preservation practice since 1998. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Architecture from the University of Michigan and a Master of Architecture degree from Lawrence Technological University. She is the project manager for the Wurlitzer Building project in Detroit, adapting the 1920s office and commercial building into a boutique hotel.


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Cara Soh, AIA, LEED AP

Senior Architect
Quinn Evans Architects

Cara Soh, AIA, LEED AP is a Senior Architect and Project Manager at Quinn Evans Architects. She holds Bachelor of Science in Architecture and Master of Architecture degrees from University of Michigan and a Master of Historic Preservation degree from Columbia University. Cara is also serving as an officer of the Association for Preservation Technology, Eastern Great Lakes Chapter. She is the project manager for the Crapo Building project in Bay City, restoring and adapting the 1890s office and commercial building into a mixed use residential building.


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Ronald D. Staley, FAPT, Hon AIA-MI

Senior Vice President / Director of Historic Preservation
The Christman Company

Ron is a Senior Vice President with The Christman Company, a general contractor and construction manager, and leads the company’s Southeast Michigan Operations as well as serves as National Director of Historic Preservation with over 35 years construction experience. In 1992, Ron founded Christman’s historic preservation group . He's directed multiple highly visible, often public preservation projects to national and statewide awards for teamwork and unique delivery methods. Ron is a Honorary AIA Michigan and member of the College of Fellows of APT. Ron is also a two term governor appointee to the Michigan State Historic Preservation Review Board .


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Urban Revitalization in the Midwest: Adaptation of Building Shells into Living Buildings

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