Glass Mural in Detroit’s Eastern Market, by MVRDV
FROM THE ARCHITECTS:
The Netherlands-based architecture and design firm MVRDV has released details on Glass Mural, a unique four-story office and retail building in Detroit’s popular Eastern Market district. The existing character of the Eastern Market, which is just outside the city center, was a clear inspiration for the design of the project. The historic east market is lively and popular. It is the largest public farmers’ market in the United States and continues to thrive as an active food hub in the area for nearly 130 years.
Glass Mural was designed by MVRDV with its colorfully printed glass facades, which both celebrate existing murals and bring new artistic works to the region. In one of the most architecturally distinctive cities in the USA, Glass Mural takes a new approach to preserving art and memory through architecture and technology. In 2015, Detroit was the country’s first UNESCO City of Design. Glass Mural is a prime example of how the city is breaking new ground in architecture and design in the 21st century.
Glass Mural is located directly across from Eastern Market’s largest and busiest indoor market, Shed 3, at the intersection of Russell and Division Streets. There is currently a two-story brick building on the site, the most important redeeming feature of which is a mural by the established local artist DENIAL. MVRDV’s proposal is to visually preserve this work of art by recreating the mural and brick pattern on a new canvas made of glass. It combines a larger version of the mural with images of the building’s brick pattern as a single image that extends around all four sides of the building.
MVRDV’s design for the 3,716-square-foot building consists of a stack of control blocks that become a canvas that builds on the vibrant and creative character of the region. Winy Maas, founding partner at MVRDV, said, “The proportions of the blocks refer to the human scale of the Eastern Market.”
Operationally, Glass Mural will have a retail store on the ground floor, with three floors of offices spread across the two primary glass blocks of permanent artwork. The third block will house circulating cores and access to the roof terrace, which will be a fully manageable amenity for office tenants.
In slight contrast to DENIAL’s work on the first block, the second block will feature a newly commissioned mural by Sheefy McFly, one of Detroit’s best emerging artists. The building blocks and murals will use state-of-the-art glass printing techniques to combine the colorful artwork with transparent areas and provide windows for the shops and offices inside. In contrast to the other glass facades, the third block will have a “flat facade surface” to create a canvas that is constantly changing. It offers various artists the opportunity to paint murals over time.
Maas adds: “We loved the idea of the artworks that bring this area to life and this building is our homage to that character immortalized through a printing technique. It allows us to interact with the spirit of the neighborhood in playful and unexpected ways. Our decision to do this with glass is also practical as we can incorporate windows to become part of the artwork and not an obstacle for artists to work around them. This allows for a greater degree of fidelity to the original work of art to be recreated, as well as greater artistic freedom for the new work of art. ”
The glass facades are produced using digital ceramic printing, a technique with which MVRDV has considerable experience. They previously used this technology in their 2013 Glass Farm project, which enlarged an image of a typical Dutch farmhouse and printed it on the exterior of a new glass building in the heart of the village of Schijndel, The Netherlands.
MVRDV was selected as the result of a collaboration between client FIRM Real Estate and Architecture Talent Agency, a Detroit-based company that represents international architecture and design firms for new projects.
The contractor for the project will be LS Brinker Company, a Detroit-based construction management company that is minority owned.
The first phase of the project began on September 30, 2020 with the construction of the glass wall painting in 2021.