SHoP refreshes design for Hudson’s Detroit skyscraper


New York-based SHoP Architects’ redevelopment plans for a former department store in downtown Detroit, including the construction of the city and the state’s tallest tower, have been dramatically revised.

The studio added an updated program and a significantly different look and feel to the design of the mixed-use development on the JL Hudson department store website.

At the heart of the project, a tiered skyscraper with terraces on two sides replaces an earlier iteration that would have risen like a giant chimney.

The projected height of the tower has also been increased from 224 to 278 meters (734 by 921 feet), extending its lead over the Detroit Marriott in the Renaissance Center – currently the tallest building in the city. It will also claim the title of tallest in Michigan.

Instead of a pattern that resembles sheeting of brick across the glass facades, vertical ribs emphasize the tower’s even greater height. The building will now house exhibition areas on the lower floors, then hotels below and above a central section with 250 apartments.

Hudson's site development by SHoP Architects

SHoP Architects’ plans for Hudson’s Detroit site are progressing

“Stepping allows for patios for amenities and possible hospitality spaces,” SHoP director William Sharples said in a statement.

“The addition of new programs in the latest version of the design allowed us as architects and designers to break down the size of the tower even further and approach it more holistically, which we have been aware of since the project began.”

Hudson's Detroit skyscraper by SHoP Architects

SHoP is working with local company Hamilton Anderson Associates on the Hudson Project, which spans an entire block along Woodward Avenue.

In addition to the skyscraper, the rest of the property is inhabited by a lower structure with retail outlets on the ground floor and event rooms and offices above.

The design of this section has also been changed, avoiding sloping, angled cuts through the building to avoid a regimental facade treatment similar to the tower.

Hudson's Detroit skyscraper by SHoP Architects

“We are very excited about the direction and design of the tower,” said Jamie Witherspoon, Architectural Director at Project Developer Bedrock. “We think it captures some kind of Detroit essence. It draws on history and looks ahead.”

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The original Hudson’s began construction in 1891 and was expanded twelve times before 1946. With 25 floors, it was the tallest department store in the world.

Sales suffered in the 1970s when Detroit’s industry declined and the population emigrated, and the business closed in 1983. The historic building was demolished in 1998.

Hudson's Detroit skyscraper by SHoP Architects

The new building on the vacant site, which laid the foundation stone in December 2017, is part of a more comprehensive revitalization of Detroit.

Other projects across the city include Schmidt Hammer Lassen’s mixed-use Monroe Blocks, David Adjaye and Michael Van Valkenburgh’s remodeling of West Riverfront Park, and Snøhetta’s renovation of Michigan Central Station.

SHoP is also working on a record-breaking skyscraper in Brooklyn that will become the borough’s first Supertall structure, while the company’s 111 West 57th in Manhattan is officially the world’s thinnest skyscraper.


Dusty Kennedy