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Monroe Blocks, downtown Detroit’s most significant mixed-use development in decades by Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects, breaks ground

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Photo: © Hayes Davidson

On 13 December 2018, Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects broke ground on its first U.S. project, Monroe Blocks, a mix of modern office space, residential units, restaurants, retail, and outdoor public areas that will stitch together the heart of one of America’s most storied cities. 

Located on the northeast corner of Detroit, Michigan’s popular Campus Martius Park, the 12,500-square-metre site has lain vacant for a generation until now. The project spans two city blocks and includes the first high-rise office tower to be built downtown in more than 25 years, as well as 4,800-square-metres of public outdoor space.

Campus Martius Park is a popular destination located a few blocks from the Detroit River where people-watching, ice skating, and outdoor concerts take place. Along Monroe Street, one of the major thoroughfares that radiate from the park out towards the surrounding suburbs, lies Monroe Blocks, a masterplan project awarded to Schmidt Hammer Lassen by Bedrock, the largest real estate developer in downtown Detroit. Monroe Blocks is one of the most prominent addresses within Bedrock’s portfolio and a unique addition to Schmidt Hammer Lassen’s portfolio of projects.

Schmidt Hammer Lassen, working together with local architectural firm Neumann/Smith Architecture, imagined a master plan that reintroduces historic alleyways and public access points, while prioritising the public realm by connecting the outdoors with each structure’s ground floor. The Monroe Blocks scheme aims to connect the surrounding downtown districts, restore density and a variety of uses to the heart of downtown with iconic design, and create new vibrant public spaces with retail, food, and entertainment for a diverse mix of residents and visitors.

Sustainability is a priority throughout Monroe Blocks, which was designed as a LEED-certified district. The office tower is designed to be Detroit’s first WELL Certified building. The Monroe Blocks development is scheduled to complete in early 2022.