Project ID
Detroit, USA

After operating out of borrowed space for a handful of years, Detroit Public Theatre expanded their operations by occupying a full building in the Midtown neighborhood. We renovated the structure from front to back while shifting its use from an automotive repair facility to a highly flexible black box theatre seating up to 200 people.

Detroit public theatre at night
Lobby looking toward entrance
Lobby Bar

The original structure was a humble little thing, mostly ignored for the hundred or so years of its life before our adaptive reuse renovation. Though the building is anonymous, we turned the original truss work into a focal point and pulled the interior renovations down away from the ceiling to expose them throughout. While the design of the renovation enabled the Theatre to secure state and federal historic tax credits, the design of the space is unabashedly contemporary.

The building is organized into three stripes. Front of house includes bar, ticket office, and a generous lobby that can double as a small performance venue. The black box occupies the center of the building. Beyond that, a compact back of house area includes green room, dressing rooms, a mezzanine, and even a micro shop space.

Axonometric diagram of DPT showing how the building is comprised of two dense cores, between which sits the void of the blackbox theatre
Black box with lights on
Black box in the dark
View from backstage to the theatre and beyond to the lobby
Dressing RoomOrange staircase leads up to the mezzanine
We snuck an unanticipated mezzanine into the building to make room for extra dressing, rehearsal, and storage space
Ticket office
Bricks old and newBricks old and new

Read more about this project in Urbanize and Dezeen.