hudson's shop
Photo courtesy
The site of the former Hudson's department store in Detroit. SHoP Architects and Hamilton Anderson Associates have been tapped to come up with concepts for a new building there.

One of Detroit’s most iconic sites will be the subject of an intense design concept study in coming months, headed by New York’s ShoP Architects.

Photo courtesy Free Press Archives
The former Hudson's department store.

The focus will be on the site of the old Hudson’s department store, which for decades in mid-20th century reigned as Detroit’s most important shopping locale. The store dated to 1891 and was built in multiple stages, reaching 25 stories and 2.2 million square feet before it closed in 1983. The structure was imploded in 1998 and since then the site has housed just an underground parking garage.

Rock Ventures, the umbrella entity for billionaire businessman Dan Gilbert, founder and chair of Quicken Loans, announced Monday that it had hired ShoP to work jointly with Detroit-based Hamilton Anderson Associates (HAA) to conduct an intensive study of concepts for a new signature building on the site (most likely mixed-use commercial and residential). Given central downtown location in the heart of Woodward Avenue, the project promises to produce what could be a new postcard image for the Motor City. “These two firms, known as premier urban catalysts, were chosen for their innovation and creativity, as well as their track record of committing to community engagement. We believe SHoP and Hamilton Anderson will join a long list of distinguished architects, including Yamasaki, Burnham, and Kahn, who have created landmark buildings in Detroit that stand the test of time,” said Jeff Cohen, founder of Rock Companies, LLC, a member of the Rock Ventures family of companies.

SHoP has designed dozens of signature projects, including the Barclays Center at Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn, New York, where the world’s tallest modular housing towers—also designed by SHoP—are currently under construction. Hamilton Anderson has worked on numerous Detroit projects including the Tech One Building at the TechTown Research and Technology Park at Wayne State University. "In visiting Detroit, we've experienced the zeal and sense of entrepreneurship that underpins a vibrant urban environment. Through our inclusive design process and engagement with academia, we look forward to becoming part of the local culture and conducting a dialogue about the future of downtown," says William Sharples, SHoP principal.

In the coming month, SHoP and HAA will meet with local stakeholders to discuss programming and design concepts. In early 2014, the two firms will host a lecture series for the community to learn more about the architects, the Hudson’s site, and what it will take to get a project of this magnitude underway. “Designing a signature architectural project from the ground up in downtown Detroit—or any great city—is an opportunity of a lifetime, and we are committed to getting it right,” says Gilbert. “Our goal is that this project will become not only a symbol of Detroit’s past and present, but more importantly, highlight the high-tech potential, creative future of opportunities for Detroiters and visitors from around the world.”