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HomeArchitectureSO – IL and OSD unveil Stanton Yards, a new arts venue in Detroit

SO – IL and OSD unveil Stanton Yards, a new arts venue in Detroit

In Detroit’s Little Village, a historic neighborhood along the Detroit River,  SO – IL is designing a new arts campus together with Office of Strategy + Design (OSD) and Library Street Collective, a Detroit-based cultural agency founded in 2012.

OSD is responsible for the project’s master plan, formally called Stanton Yards. The buildings by SO – IL will deliver 42,000 square feet of space for arts and culture on a 13-acre site that will double as both cultural venue and active marina. The waterfront will be fitted with amenities for concerts, play areas, and public art installations, and have 85 active boat slips.

The forthcoming project by SO – IL represents the latest addition to Little Village, a multisite arts neighborhood that features new projects by Peterson Rich Office (PRO), the Shepherd, and OMA. “We wanted to celebrate the site’s industrial character, while clearly demonstrating its renewed purpose and identity,” SO – IL’s Florian Idenburg said.

showing reuse of buildings
The project will adaptively reuse four industrial buildings, and maintain unique features like sawtooth roofs. (bloomimages)

OSD’s master plan features one new ground-up building; it will also convert four industrial buildings of mixed sizes into a cohesive multi-use arts campus. The future interior spaces will have room for art-making, workshops, educational programming, performances, galleries, and recreational uses. The overall goal is to build a “porous space in which programs exist in dialogue with the city and one another,” SO – IL offered.

New ground-up building by OSD (Courtesy bloomimages)

The design approach places emphasis on the adaptive reuse of existing materials on site at the four buildings. Swaths of metal siding will be replaced with translucent polycarbonate to fill spaces with natural light. Additional windows and skylights will be added to amplify a sense of openness. The overall material palette will have polished metal, hammered concrete, and layered brick to create familiar yet contrasting textures.

courtyard for the arts campus
The courtyard, the architects said, will be the heart of the new campus and open up to the existing marina. (bloomimages)

The Detroit project builds on SO – IL’s track record of successfully converting industrial buildings into cultural milieus. Previously, the New York office completed Amant in Brooklyn and Site Verrier in Meisenthal, France.

In signature SO – IL fashion, the future project in Detroit uses mesh: The design proffers a distinctive sloped canopy of the netted material that stretches over an entry plaza on Jefferson Avenue. This is meant to give the site a signature and new public identity.

The street-facing structures will be strategically perforated for public access to draw in visitors to the lush courtyard at the site’s core. The courtyard itself will act as the “beating heart of the campus, supporting community events, art installations, and leisure activities,” the architects continued.


axon drawing of Stanton Yards
Axon drawing of site (Courtesy SO – IL)

This project represents OSD’s second collaboration with Anthony and JJ Curis of Library Street Collective: OSD also conducted the master plan for PRO’s project in Little Village, which features a 3.5 acre park, and opens to the public on May 18.

“As Detroit undergoes a waterfront renaissance, Stanton Yards shows the importance of designing from the outside-in, giving priority to people and the land as a means to creating a thriving new community destination for the city,” said Simon David, OSD principal. “In this way the design for the 13-acre site, once home to theaters and military warehouses alike, merges nature, structures, and new buildings, thereby seamlessly uniting the community with the waterfront.”

Stanton Yards is anticipated for completion in 2027.

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