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Banner Building Reuse

Banner Building Reuse revolves around the ongoing transformation of the historic Banner Cigar Company Building in Poletown, Detroit, currently owned by non-profit 555 Arts. Rather than a single architectural solution, the project is a series of engagements that adapt to the building’s slow change over time, driven by social, material, and financial realities. 1+1+ is helping to envision and communicate 555 Arts’ stewardship of the building towards a future neighborhood arts center. 

Project Year: 2018-Ongoing

Team: De Peter Yi, Matthew Crilley, Linda Lee, Maksim Drapey, David Alcala, Chris Humphrey


1. Working Model

As a first step in guiding the building’s collective re-imagining, we created a working model of the building. The working model distills the building into a series of essential structural parts, both revealing its inherent beauty and giving form to a framework of transformation. The model is deliberately big – so multiple people can work on it at once, look into it, and see the building’s past becoming its future. 

2. Changing Parts

Inspired by the important symbolic and functional roles of the metal column headers in the mostly brick and wood building, we designed a series of new parts for the building’s renovation toolkit. These new parts not only contribute to the structural rehabilitation of the building by bringing material forces in reciprocity, but also suggest at social force transfers – doubling as spatial connectors, dividers, and frameworks. To fabricate the parts, we worked with the artists at 555 to design custom sand molds that allowed each metal pour to retain a hard-edged “controlled” portion and a soft-edged “overflow” portion, playing with the idea of introducing difference within standardization. 

Banner Building Reuse

3. Making Room

To tell the story of the Banner Building’s future as a neighborhood arts center envisioned by 555 Arts, we created images of new possible rooms in the building. Mirroring the building’s material and programmatic temporality, these rooms are designed to be dynamic, responsive, and realized over time. As a first step, we installed a small forest of columns that shape smaller spaces within the larger floor plan, and act as placeholder supports for surfaces and activities to come.