A Look at Detroit Architecture Firm Rossetti


IIn the summer of 2013, Rossetti, the international architectural planning and design firm, moved its headquarters to the Federal Reserve building in downtown Detroit. The first thing on the agenda: converting a large part of the building. The company renovated the top floor, the downstairs restaurant, Maru Sushi, and the fourth floor (where their offices are).

Step into your suite and you will immediately get a feel for Rossetti’s aesthetic. The 13,000-square-foot modern space strikes a wonderful balance between streamlined and bold – think of exposed metal beams and sleek wooden tables accented with orange lights and bright green chairs. It’s an open concept work area and there is a lot of light filtering through the windows, though most designers leave the work lights on at their desks on. In many ways, this is exactly what the team behind Rossetti thinks is good design – a series of contradictions and a constant battle between beauty and functionality.

Rossetti’s projects include a $ 100 million renovation of Ford Field. // Photos by RossettiRossettiA 1950s rework of Jim Brady’s Ann Arbor restaurant.

To date, Rossetti has designed numerous arenas, amphitheaters, stadiums and more around the world – including the Toyota Park in Chicago, the Compton Family Ice Arena at Notre Dame Compton University and the Baku Olympic Stadium in Azerbaijan for the 2015 European Games. In Michigan they renovated the Greektown Casino and Hotel, the luxury apartment building The Albert and the Cobo Center. And that list is growing.

They are currently working on a renovation of the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, the Munn Arena at Michigan State University, and are working on converting Detroit’s former Douglass Site public housing project into an urban neighborhood.

Given the list of projects, it almost seems like the Rossetti team specializes in sports and entertainment venues. But ask your managers and they will say otherwise. What sets the company apart is less the actual location than the focus on experience. “We strive to do everything from a single source – we love to design the building, create the backdrop and brand it,” explains Kelly Deines, Creative Director at Rossetti. It’s not just about choosing wallpaper, lamps, and coffee makers, it’s about imagining how those elements are presented to create a finished product that is as emotional as it is useful.

In fact, their process is almost cinematic. “This film, I Am Love, had that beautiful mid-century Italian setting, which was a really sad kind of family drama. But you know that this is an art director, architect, or interior designer who is orchestrating that experience. Could you imagine doing this in a tumbleweed cottage? “Yours laughs.

RossettiA nightlife inspired design for the tennis activation area at the Miami Open

How does this all play out when it comes to creating experiences at sporting events and their respective venues? Jamie Neher, Senior Designer at Rossetti, likes to point out a tennis activation area that the Rossetti team worked on at the 2019 Miami Open. “In a temporary environment, you have to think from the visitor’s point of view and how he can experience this event – you have to choreograph every step of the way,” she explains. “Where are you going to eat? And not just typical functions, but also emotional functions. I always try to reference the senses – the smell, the touch – how do we activate all of these senses? ” She asks.

T.To do this, the team has provided a parking lot near the event to avoid guests having to be far from the stadium. They also worked with the owner of the Hard Rock Stadium, Stephen Ross, to design luxurious lounges that guests would feel comfortable in on long game days. These luxurious lounges were outfitted with a state-of-the-art shade canopy, four high-resolution boards, and bold art to please the senses.

The overwhelming approach that Rossetti took to the Miami Open is exactly what they bring to all of their projects. Not only do you design spaces that get the job done, but create immersive experiences that evoke emotions and therefore leave a lasting impression.

Enter the Rossetti office

“We describe our office as Native laboratory in Detroit, ”wrote Denise Drach, Vice President Marketing at Rossetti, in an email. “The design is transparent and honest with a bit of grain.” It also has a bit of history with it. The room is in the former Federal Reserve Building, built in 1927 and surrounded by an eight-story glass and marble structure that makes up two-thirds of the current work area. It was designed by the famous American architect Minoru Yamasaki, who was responsible for designing the annex to the World Trade Center in 1951.

Many of the natural materials used to construct the building are exposed: the concrete pillars, metal beams, terracotta bricks, and the concrete floor. All of this is punctuated by birch cabinets, a large marble island, and walls of charred wainscoting – and even this small detail carries great significance. “They repeat the Japanese Shou Sugi Ban technique, in which wood is preserved by charring with fire. It’s also a reference to Yamasaki, ”writes Drach.

The desks in the office come from the furniture manufacturer The Senator Group and the seating from the Allermuir and Aeron branches. Since 1969 the team has met every Friday from 4.30pm to 6.00pm for “Friday Bar Time”. When the weather is nice, they gather on their two outside decks (relatively rare in Detroit).


Dusty Kennedy