March 1, 2012

Rooting For Motown: Rossetti Designs Rock Companies’ Detroit Office

Like coal’s metamorphosis into a diamond, the process of urban revitalization requires both pressure from civic entities and patience from investors. The architecture firm Rossetti helped fight Detroit’s infamous blight by building the Compuware Corporation’s headquarters, which brought 4,000 employees into the city center. Nearly a decade later, Rossetti was approached by a fellow Motown champion: Dan Gilbert, an entrepreneur whose enterprises include Quicken Loans, announced that his commercial and residential real-estate development outfit, Rock Companies, would move from the suburbs to the 10th floor at Compuware, already home to Quicken. “There was initial interest in building something new,” Rossetti design principal Kelly Deines says. But Gilbert, a Detroit native, sees the beauty of preserving past architectural achievements. (He’s acquired several significant properties that will eventually house his businesses.)

Rock Companies’s 28,000 square feet perfectly embody the vitality returning to a listless downtown, courtesy of bold design and its energetic patrons. Primary colors are indeed primary, starting with the color-block carpet in reception and continuing with the cushions softening benches and the dry-erase panels cladding the mechanicals core, making on-the-spot brainstorming sessions a common occurrence. “The effect is professional but not precious,” Deines notes-aimed at selling investors on urban promise. Scooters zip along carpeted corridors, and steam is blown off on the basketball half-court, which is surrounded by the office areas. A Cleveland Cavaliers mural stretches overhead. Yes, Gilbert owns the team, too. 

Photography by Dave Burk.

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