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Rock Ventures Picks NYC, Detroit Architects To Begin Designs For Hudson’s Site

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A view of the former Hudson store site today. Rock Ventures photo.

A view of the former Hudson store site today. Rock Ventures photo.

DETROIT (WWJ) – One of Detroit’s most iconic blocks — and a very visible symbol of its recent problems — is about to get a redevelopment.

Rock Ventures Monday announced that it had hired SHoP Architects of New York City as “architect of record” to begin the design process for the two-acre site of the former Hudson’s department store on Woodward Avenue in Detroit.

Rock Ventures said SHoP will partner with Detroit-based Hamilton Anderson Associates to create a mixed-use development for the block, bordered by Gratiot and Grand River Avenues and Library Street.

“They were chosen to begin the process of designing the site, but at this point we don’t know exactly what that will be,” said Carolyn Artman, spokeswoman for Rock Ventures and Bedrock Real Estate Services.

Jeff Cohen, founder of Rock Companies LLC, said the two firms are “known as premier urban catalysts” and “were chosen for their innovation and creativity, as well as their track record of committing to community engagement.”

SHoP is the architect on projects like 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. The modules are being fabricated in a nearby factory setting with the Brooklyn Navy Yard and point to a promising new frontier for urban manufacturing.

Hamilton Anderson’s notable Detroit area projects include the Tech One Building at the TechTown Research and Technology Park, Wayne State University Welcome Center and the North Terminal at Detroit Metropolitan Airport.

“SHoP and HAA will be charged with the mission of designing one of the most important sites in downtown Detroit that honors the city’s architectural legacy as well as complements Detroit’s recently-renovated and newer buildings,” Cohen said.

The selection of SHoP comes on the heels of a global architectural ideas competition for architects, designers, planners, artists and the public hosted by Rock Ventures in March. This competition was designed to reengage the community with the Hudson’s site and attract and exhibit ideas for the potential future use of this key location. The competition attracted more than 200 entries from across the globe.

To see all of the design ideas, winners and learn more about the competition visit http://hudsons.opportunitydetroit.com.

Judging for the Hudson’s site ideas competition took place in June of this year with interviews of several additional architectural firms occurring over the past few months.

William Sharples, SHoP principal, said in a statement: “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.”

And HAA principal Kent H. Anderson added: “The Hudson’s block is historic and full of symbolism for Detroiters everywhere; it is the emotional and physical heart of downtown. This project has the capacity to link disparate parts of downtown and become a catalyst for change and development beyond its immediate surroundings. Breathing new life into this site purveys what we have all been waiting for — confirmation that the heart of the Central Business District will beat strong. We are proud to be part of the design team in this critically important effort.”

Originally an eight story building constructed in 1891, Hudson’s Department Store grew to 25 stories and 2.2 million square feet in its heyday in the 1950s and 1960s. The store closed in 1983 and was demolished in 1998. An underground parking garage is currently the only use of the site.

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.

Dan Gilbert, chairman and founder of Rock Ventures and a major investor in downtown, said of the project: “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. 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.”

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