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McIntosh Poris Associates’ design for DuCharme Place — a new, ground-up, 185-unit luxury apartment community in Detroit’s historic Lafayette Park — is anticipated for completion in early 2017. The $45 million apartment complex will be the area’s first new lifestyle community in 40 years. The complex will comprise four mid-rise buildings, with residences standing three stories tall above a parking/lobby podium base, totaling 188,500 square feet. It is one of many ground-up residential projects currently underway by McIntosh Poris Associates throughout the area.

“We’ve been working on designing multi-family housing developments in Lafayette Park for nearly 15 years,” said Michael Poris, AIA, principal of McIntosh Poris Associates. “DuCharme Place builds upon the vision of the park’s original development team by creating a community integrated with nature to support the existing historic district. To respect the site, we wanted the relationship with nature to be a driving factor behind the design. We organized the buildings around landscaped courtyards, while also creating street walls on Lafayette Street, Orleans Street, and DuCharme. Every unit has great views and abundant natural light.”    

Four buildings will be oriented around three central courtyard terraces on the podiums. Outdoor terraces will connect through a series of bridges.

DuCharme’s location in one of Detroit’s most venerated examples of modern architecture and urban planning — Mies Van der Rohe’s Lafayette Park — inspired the architects to continue Mies’ legacy by choosing materials such as brick, metal, and glass that recall the modernist palette. The contemporary and energy-efficient design will feature a terraced live green roof complete with lawn, Zen garden, fitness center, and swimming pool. Exteriors will include insulated glazing and be clad in a rain screen fiber-cement reinforced panel system with aluminum-framed windows, featuring railings of laser-cut painted metal.      

Entrances, lobbies, and parking areas form the base of the residences and live green roof terraces. Locally glazed brick cladding marks lobby entrances on each building’s corner, while perforated and corrugated metal screening and plantings shield parking areas. This enclosed coverage system at grade level — inspired by the parking areas at Lafayette Park, which are outdoors and slightly hidden by a 4-foot sunken level and shielded by hedges — will allow for secure parking, easy access for residents, and protection from harsh weather. The parking area design pushes Mies’ idea of hidden parking further by updating it for a contemporary Detroit, as well as draws inspiration from his pool-top podium parking at Lafayette Towers.    

The four buildings will be oriented around three central courtyard terraces on the podiums. Outdoor terraces will connect through a series of bridges — an emphasized role in the relationship between landscape and form, inside and out, and public and private spaces — similar to Mies’ design at Lafayette Park. Interiors will be designed to offer contemporary living with wood flooring, light-quartz countertops, dark-wood cabinetry, gourmet kitchen appliances, and laundry units. On the private terraces, residents will be able to relax in the Zen garden, workout in a state-of-the-art fitness center, or go for a swim in the pool. The live green roof will be the largest for a residential project in Detroit, emphasizing the architects’ belief in the importance of a natural landscape and community — a concept influenced by Mies.    

Similar to the park spaces created between Mies’ townhomes, Ducharme will feature a relationship between landscape and form around outdoor spaces. Private balconies will look toward courtyard terraces with green landscape extending to Lafayette Park, as well as views to the park, streets, downtown, and Dequindre Cut. The site’s location will afford a short walk to downtown Detroit and other attractions. Bike racks in the complex will offer direct access to the Dequindre Cut Greenway, an urban recreational pathway that links residential neighborhoods with Eastern Market and Detroit’s riverfront park, the RiverWalk.    

The first of the buildings are nearly complete and ready for move-in, with one- and two-bedroom floor plans ranging from 500 to 1,100 square feet. With more two-bedroom units than one-bedroom units, DuCharme expects to attract singles, couples, urban professionals, and empty nesters who are unable to afford rental costs in downtown, seek more living space, and value luxury design in a more natural, quieter urban community.    

In addition to DuCharme, McIntosh Poris Associates is partnering with local developers to design ground-up residential complexes in surrounding urban neighborhoods. Current projects contributing to the city’s construction upswing include Floyd Lofts, featuring eight, one- and two-bedroom units with open living spaces (to be completed in 2017); and 750 Forest, a 22-unit, five-story condo development (to be completed in  2018), both located in a Detroit suburb, Birmingham, Mich. 

These projects add to the firm’s larger portfolio of award-winning multi-family developments, including 3909 Woodward Garden Apartments, a ground-up five-story, mixed-use building featuring 61 market-rate apartments; Eureka Building, a conversion of the historic, five-story Eureka vacuum cleaner company’s world headquarters into four residential lofts with a ground-floor restaurant; Park Shelton, an adaptive reuse of the 12-story, 1926 Wardell Hotel into 220 condos; Genesis Villas at Medbury Park, a low-income, subsidized-housing community with 89 townhomes in the Midtown area; and 400 Parent Avenue Lofts, a former lumber warehouse transformed into eight, two-level loft units.    

DuCharme is the firm’s second proposed housing project for Lafayette Park. In 2003, the architects designed the Lafayette Towers Master Plan and Townhomes to further develop and strengthen Mies’ idea of an “integrated community.” The development was to update an existing one-story retail shopping center and add 30 new townhomes. Although the project received approval from the historic commission, it was never completed, but serves as an early example of McIntosh Poris Associates’ desire to enhance and strengthen the residential character of the neighborhood.    

McIntosh Poris Associates served as architect and interior designer for DuCharme Place. Other project team members include the City of Detroit and Michigan Strategic Fund (partners), Sachse Construction (general contractor), Clark Trombley Randers Consulting Engineers (MEP engineer), Nowak & Fraus Engineers (civil engineer/surveyor), and Zaremba & Company (landscape architects).


Information provided by McIntosh Poris Associates (www.mcintoshporis.com).

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