Have you been to the M@dison?

Among the finalists of our Work Design Now series sponsored by Haworth is M@dison Building, owned by Bedrock Real Estate Services and designed by Neumann/Smith Architecture.

“It’s becoming a ‘go-to’ place,” said Joel Smith, AIA and partner at Neumann/Smith Architecture. “People are asking, ‘Have you been to the M@dison?’  I didn’t realize what an impact this has had on the city.   It has been a game-changer, with everybody wanting to experience it.”

Among those experiencing is Tim Smith, president and CEO of Skidmore Studio, a graphic design firm and the M@dison’s first tenant.

“Once we were down here, the work elevated itself because of the emotion of being here. I think Skidmore has been known as a creative force here in Detroit for a long time, but to have a client say, ‘You guys were always good, but now I’m seeing a whole different level of work,’ that’s a very rewarding thing.”

The vision for the renovation of this 1917 structure was to create a hub for high-tech entrepreneurial activity and special events that would be instrumental in the rejuvenation of Detroit. Floors 2-4 would offer space for anchor businesses and a “desk-for-a-day” environment for enterprising “techies.”

And as a “think tank” full of young and creative minds, the design needed to be young, edgy, and — most importantly — embrace the building’s urban context.

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Jim Ketai, managing partner with Bedrock Real Estate Services, said the design achieves just this outcome.

“The amazing work of the architects, designers, and contractors involved has helped create a distinct space and successful redevelopment of a historic building. That is a remarkable feat in our city’s ongoing revitalization.”

The existing clay tile ceilings, exposed brick, steel columns and beams, and concrete floors were combined with custom graphics and murals of 1920s Detroit. Urban light sculptures, modern furniture, and even the existing graffiti were all incorporated into the new space.

An open-office space design with benching style workstations fosters collaboration. Break-out spaces rim the open work stations, which are separated by low meandering walls with writable surfaces for brainstorming. A variety of conventional and unusual seating like “bubble” swings encourage tenants to congregate or collaborate informally. Etched lettering on glass panels adds interest to the monumental staircase that connects floors to each other.

At nearly 10,000 square feet, the 5th floor of the building offers state-of-the-art meeting and gathering spaces. It has a two-story auditorium, two private conference rooms, lounge seating and tables, and a full catering kitchen and bar facilities for holding events.

One of the jewels of the renovation is the rooftop terrace that provides stunning views of the city. The space contains two bars, a commercial kitchen with three barbecues, and multiple flat screen televisions. Drink shelves separate the three levels, and stainless steel cables ring the terrace to enhance the mostly unobstructed views. The look is modern, with lighting, touches of wood, foliage, and even a fire feature to soften the space.

M@dison is coming to the right place at the right time, according to Dan Gilbert, founder and chairman of Quicken Loans, which enabled the revitalization. “This is the prototype of hopefully more buildings like this to come.  It’s about connectivity.  It’s about having the right environment and the right culture for these companies to work together to create wealth in the new economy.”
  
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Location: Detroit, Michigan
Size: 50,000 SF
Completed: October 2011

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