Urban Transformation

New life for an early 20th-century commercial structure.

Design Flash

Urban Transformation
McIntosh Poris Associates transform an early 20th-century commercial structure into a sublimely cool mixed-use building.

Standing in the center of Detroit, MI's densely-packed commercial district, the once abandoned Eureka Building has been restored into a five-story, 10,000-square-foot building that features four lofts and the bustling, honey-hued bistro, Small Plates, on its ground floor. The restoration, which McIntosh Poris Associates completed in 2003, has served as a catalyst for additional renovation projects, rejuvenating the area into an urban residential neighborhood.

The Detroit-based McIntosh Poris Associates, defying what some predicted as a bleak fate for this industrial city and armed with a devotion to revitalize historic portions of it, restored the Eureka Building, which had been left virtually abandoned since the vacuum manufacturer relocated its headquarters in 1939. The firm refurbished the exterior to its
original condition and converted the interior to plush, spacious lofts. The soaring lofts are approximately 2,000 square feet each with two bedrooms, a private elevator and high windows. Seeking to maintain the structure's industrial atmosphere, the architects stripped the interiors, exposing beams and pipes, lending a raw texture to the otherwise luxurious lofts. Loyal to the building's historical detailing, McIntosh Poris faithfully repaired original handiwork in the interior and on the exterior façade. The architects also installed rich maple cabinetry and flooring along with porcelain sinks and concrete countertops in the bathrooms.

The ground floor restaurant, Small Plates, is a warm, intimate space that maintains the building's industrial, urban history. To engage local residents, McIntosh Poris pushed the glass-paned façade to the street front, revealing the interior oak floors, yellow walls, café tables and brick pizza oven.

The firm's commitment to this adaptive reuse project was recently acknowledged by the Michigan Historic Preservation Network, which bestowed McIntosh Poris Associates with the 2004 Building Award for restoring the famed Eureka Building. According to Steven Jones, awards chairman of the network and principal of Quinn Evans Architects, the project "demonstrated that through creative design and sound preservation principles, the rehabilitation of existing building stock can help revitalize the urban cores of our cities, provide economic benefit through the creation of new housing, shopping and entertainment venues and preserve our cultural heritage for the next generation."