In Detroit, ODA Renovates the Book Tower

A 100-year-old iconic structure in downtown Detroit is undergoing renovation at the hands of New York’s ODA Architects.

ODA’s known for expert renovation chops on major projects here and abroad, including Rotterdam’s Postkantoor and New York City’s 10 Jay.

In the case of the Book Tower in Detroit, Bedrock Insurance has charged the firm with converting the building from commercial to mixed-use space.

“They purchased the building in 2015 and now they’re bringing in residential, hospitality, retail and extended stay,” says Gene Pyo, project director at ODA. “They studied the building and its relationship to the rest of the city.”

The tower was built between 1916 and 1926, with an Italian Renaissance design by local architect Louis Kamper. His first significant commercial building of the time, it’s richly detailed and ornamented. Because it sits at the intersection of Washington Boulevard and Grand River Avenue, it’s a defining part of historic downtown.

“Obviously, it has such a rich history and people have personal pride in it, and there are personal connections for everyone in Detroit,” Pyo says. “t acItivates the downtown area of Detroit and opens it up to the public creates a new destination at the heart of the city.”

As ODA works through design development and the renovation is underway, a number of material surprises have popped up. Chandeliers and ornate plaster ceilings have been uncovered and restored, and travertine floors are shining again.

“We’re drawing from the history of the building and its Italian Renaissance style,” he says. “But we’re also looking to the future and at new technologies and how they’ll be implemented during the renovation, for the future.”

An inspirational symbol of downtown Detroit’s rebirth, the Book Tower will re-open in 2022.

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