Street art inspires MVRDV for new Detroit building

5 October 2020

Detroit, MI

United States

Glass Mural design celebrates vibrant city market district

MVRDV has released design details for Glass Mural, a one-of-a-kind, four-storey office and retail building located in Detroit’s Eastern Market neighbourhood. The design was inspired by the existing character of the district and reflects the vibrant nature of the largest public farmers’ market in the United States, which has thrived as an active food hub for nearly 130 years. 

The building will comprise a stack of shifting blocks, with colourfully printed glass façades both celebrating existing murals and adding new artistic works to the area. Currently, the site is home to a two-storey brick building whose key feature is a mural by the established local artist DENIAL. MVRDV’s proposal, developed alongside co-architect Integrated Design Solutions, is to visually preserve this artwork by recreating it on a new canvas made of glass. 

In contrast with DENIAL’s work on the first block, the second block will present a newly commissioned mural by Sheefy McFly, one of Detroit’s top emerging artists. The design makes use of glass printing techniques to combine the colourful artworks with areas of transparency, providing windows for the shops and offices inside. Unlike the other glass facades, the third block will feature a “flat façade finish” to create an ever-changing canvas, providing an opportunity for different artists to create further works. 

Winy Maas, founding partner at MVRDV, stated: “We loved the idea of the artworks that bring this area to life, and this building is our tribute to this character, eternalised through a printing technique. It allows us to interact with the spirit of the neighbourhood in a way that is playful and unexpected. Our decision to do so with glass is also practical, as it allows us to incorporate windows to become a part of the artwork, not an obstacle for artists to work around. That enables a greater level of faithfulness to the original artwork that will be recreated, as well as greater artistic freedom for the new artwork.”

Lucy Nordberg
TenderStream Head of Research

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