Repurposed Detroit Fire Department HQ Highlights Detroit's Past and Future
Much of the original and unique firehouse-related features, like the massive red doors, fire poles, extensive glazed tile, huge firetruck garage (now a restaurant) and Fire Commissioner’s Office, are preserved and celebrated.
New accent and decorative lighting are carefully integrated with refurbished original decorative fixtures, all using LED technology. “Lighting for the hotel, restaurant and bar was designed to augment and highlight features, not to compete with them,” comments Robert White, IALD, IES, LC, Director of Illuminart and lighting design principal on the project. The goal was to deliver quality illumination whilst preserving the historical feel of the many different spaces yet with a modern edge. Budget, ease of maintenance, and availability of lighting gear were also important design factors.
Design touches unique to Detroit include installations from local artists, products for purchase made by local businesses and design features, like the custom-made wallpaper featuring photographs of iconic Detroit architecture in painful yet fascinating post-industrial decay. Architectural salvage pieces, such as repurposed wood for headboards, existing marble detailing, exposed and massive brick structural elements and air shafts are delightful surprises as the various floors are explored. This building has a real story that is revealed and not fabricated.
For the hotel rooms, Illuminart was tasked with creating a low-key, relaxed environment through careful use of decorative lighting and limited recessed downlighting. The goal was to not distract from city views of the skyline, Detroit River, Cobo, and wider views beyond.
“The Detroit Foundation Hotel is a perfect example of how an important historical building, having outlived its designed purpose, can be reborn with thoughtful and focused re-design. Architectural, interior design, lighting design, engineering, and construction teams worked together to deliver a successful rebirth of an amazing structure on a very important corner of Detroit.”