LOHA’s design for Baltimore Station tracks the neighborhood’s cultural legacy of makers, from automobile assembly lines to Detroit’s burgeoning tech and artistic communities, to foster the next creative generation. Catering to this emerging community of artists, entrepreneurs, and young professionals, LOHA is collaborating with a local client to transform a centrally-located underutilized site by creating new arts programming, retail, open space, and a combination of various alternate live-work typologies.
Located at the confluence of Detroit’s New Center, Milwaukee Junction, and the Midtown Cultural Center and historic districts - home to Wayne State University, the Detroit Institute of Arts, the College for Creative Studies, as well as a retail zone that includes the Shinola headquarters, Baltimore Station aims to serve the demographic naturally drawn to live and work in this area. Occupying an acre lot at the intersection of the regional Amtrak rail and the city’s forthcoming M1 light-rail line, Baltimore Station stands at the nexus of Detroit’s industrial past and promising future.
LOHA’s inventive design for Baltimore Station encompasses an innovative co-living program, live-work studios, commercial space, as well as a variety of shared workshop and social spaces. Starting from a courtyard typology, LOHA’s design comprises a spectrum of unit types to reflect the neighborhood’s diversity and appeal to various residents, from new graduates of the nearby universities to professionals working in New Center or Downtown Detroit. Within the building envelope, the units are stacked and oriented to take advantage of specific views out and are also stepped down to engage the ground level at the pedestrian scale. By using the individual unit scale as the main building block, LOHA creates a carefully articulated form that responds to various contextual and programmatic influences, reflective of its surrounding neighborhood.
In addition, the stepped massing creates a series of interconnected public spaces for communal gatherings, including fitness areas for workout and yoga, a quiet grove, and a community garden. Each outdoor space is tailored specifically for the type of residents of the adjacent units, whether it’s a lecture and movie deck for the co-living program or a more intimate dining terrace used as an extension of the young professional’s living room.
Baltimore Station’s co-living program forms the core of the courtyard space. All efficiency units are accessed from the main, shared space that cuts down and across the various floor levels. This porous, connective thoroughfare forms the backbone of the co-living program, encouraging casual interactions and creative collaborations.
The exterior materiality pays homage to the neighborhood’s industrial past and Detroit’s distinct urban palette. Inspired by the nearby Ford Piquette Factory, where the first Ford Model Ts were made, LOHA has devised a modular metal panel for the exterior envelope that is a contemporary interpretation of the metal stamping process used to manufacture car body parts. Interior courtyard elevations are differentiated through a variety of brick textures, including reclaimed, charcoal, and crushed brick. LOHA lifted the Art Deco patterning of the nearby Fisher Building, also owned by the client, to inform the entry and courtyard floor paving, combining a reference to the local landmark with colors and materials inspired by the work of local artists.
Through the synthesis of program, form, and materiality, LOHA’s design for Baltimore Station supports emerging artistic and creative practices in the neighborhood, retaining young talent in Detroit to fuel the city’s growth.
Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects [LOHA] harnesses the complexities and latent opportunities of urban society to create transformative architecture. Our work is driven by ruthless optimism, creative pragmatism, and a profound conviction that bold, enlightened design elevates the soul and enriches communities.
We balance ideals and pragmatics, intuition and logic, radical visions and fulfilled expectations. We ground our process in rigorous exploration, persistent questioning, and technical expertise. We craft distinctive, sustainable, elegantly resolved designs that meet the needs of our clients and respond to broader civic and social ambitions.
Since 1994, LOHA has built over 85 projects across three continents. Our diverse work ranges from large, mixed-use developments and university residential complexes to art galleries and bus shelters. LOHA has been published in over 20 countries and recognized with over 100 awards, including the AIA Los Angeles Firm of the Year.