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Architect announced, new renderings released for Book Tower redevelopment

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The downtown skyscraper will have retail, office, residential, and hospitality

People sit on low couches near planters and wait at a desk area in the lobby. There’s tall columns that connect to the second floor.
Rendering of the Book Tower’s lobby, which will be open to the public.
Bedrock Detroit

One of the most anticipated redevelopments in Detroit is coming closer to fruition.

Bedrock Detroit announced today that New York City–based ODA will be the lead architect on the redesign the Book Tower. It’s the firm’s first project in Detroit.

“This is the most meaningful project you can hope for,” Eran Chen, founding principal at ODA, tells Curbed Detroit. “It has all the components that we like to work with—it’s a historical building with amazing attributes.”

The Dan Gilbert–owned development company bought the building on Washington Boulevard in 2015. For the past two years, it’s been restoring the exterior of the 38-story Italian Renaissance masterpiece—power washing the brick and stone, replacing the 2,483 historically-accurate windows, and fixing up the cornice and caryatid statues.

The three-story lobby has a big open space in the middle with gold front doors and a shimmering, curved skylight. People mingle on the ground floor and around the railings on the upper floors.
Rendering of the Book Tower’s lobby with glass skylight.
Bedrock Detroit

Bedrock and ODA have now revealed more extensive plans. The 486,760 square-foot structure will be mixed-use in the truest sense—there will be retail, office, residential, and a high-end hotel.

This blend of public and private space will be an interesting challenge for the design team. ODA says it will open up the lobby to the public through multiple entrances and attract tenants like a cafe or gallery. The three-story glass skylight in the atrium will be resurfaced, creating a warm and welcoming space.

“All of these uses are going to mix together and open to an urban experience within the historic envelop,” Chen says. “Each one of those uses requires its own circulation, entryways, corridors. They will be independent and secure, but at the same time, respective of the open public space and structure.”

Chen says that the offices will be positioned towards the atrium and “immersed in the entire experience of the building.” ODA is also designing the hospitality component for slightly larger, short-stay rooms.

Crain’s Detroit Business also got some specific numbers for each of the components: “25,000 square feet of retail; about 40,000 to 50,000 square feet of office space; approximately 120 hotel rooms; and about 200 to 220 residential units.”

Bedrock did not update its estimate of $313 million for the total cost of the project, though it did revise its completion date and is expected to open in 2022.

The ornamental Book Tower was designed by renowned architect Louis Kamper and finished in 1926. It’s been fully abandoned since 2009, though had very few tenants in the years prior. It’s also notable for being one of the tallest abandoned buildings in the world.

As part of Detroit Design 139, an exhibition at the Detroit Month of Design, Bedrock and ODA are hosting a tour of the Book Tower on Saturday, September 7 from 1:30-6 p.m. You can register for the free tour here.

Looking into the building from the street at night, there’s lots of activity inside. Lights are on for nearly every room and people are shopping and dining on the first floor businesses.
Ground-floor tenants will provide ample access to the Book Tower to all guests.
Bedrock Detroit

Book Tower

, , MI 48226