KPF unveils slanted building for Detroit Center for Innovation tech campus

A Kohn Pedersen Fox glass building that tumbles up on one side has been exposed for a proposed tech campus in Detroit, Michigan.

The Detroit Center for Innovation campus, announced last fall, will span 5.6 acres on the eastern edge of downtown Detroit.

Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF) designed a building to be built on the site where the city’s Wayne County Jail was built. The work was stopped in 2013 due to cost overruns and the building was demolished last year.

The center is said to be “a new gateway to the up and coming downtown Detroit,” said the New York City-based architecture firm.

Detroit Center for Innovation by KPF

Construction is expected to start on campus in 2021, where students and faculty will work with entrepreneurs and business leaders. Comparisons were made to the Cornell Tech campus in New York City.

“The center will build on Detroit’s growing presence as an innovation hub, bringing an array of talent to local businesses, and providing opportunities for current workers to develop their skills in a world of rapidly changing technology,” the team said.

A focus of the campus will be an academic facility designed by KPF and operated by the University of Michigan.

Hudson's Detroit skyscraper by SHoP Architects

SHoP updates the design for Hudson’s skyscraper in Detroit

The facility is expected to serve up to 1,000 students earning degrees in areas such as artificial intelligence, data science, and cybersecurity.

The 17,652 square meter multi-story building will be constructed at the corner of Gratiot Avenue and I-375.

Renderings show a tall, sloping building that extends up on one side. The walls are wrapped in glass and offer a high degree of transparency. Part of the lower level will be cut away in order to create a fluid connection with the surrounding campus.

Detroit Center for Innovation by KPF

The educational building is part of the first phase of the project, which will also include a hotel, conference center and space for entrepreneurs and established companies. Residential units are also part of the program.

KPF’s project is part of a series of rejuvenation efforts to strengthen Detroit’s economy, which saw a huge population decline due to the loss of manufacturing jobs from the 1950s onwards.

The program recently received a $ 100 million (£ 77 million) donation from noted New York developer Stephen M Ross, founder and chairman of its affiliates. Ross grew up in Detroit and studied accounting at the University of Michigan.

“Detroit has always been an incredible place for innovation and opportunity, and the Detroit Center for Innovation will usher the city into a new era of technology leadership,” said Ross.

The land for the center is donated by Dan Gilbert, founder and chairman of the local real estate company Bedrock.

Other projects in the city include a stepped skyscraper on a glazed podium with shops, event rooms and offices. The project, designed by SHoP Architects, is being built on the site of Hudson’s, a famous department store that was founded in the 1890s.

David Adjaye and Michael Van Valkenburgh were also selected to transform Detroit’s West Riverfront Park.


Dusty Kennedy