Bedrock opens new headquarters in historic building

Shawn D. Lewis, The Detroit News

The new Bedrock headquarters at 630 Woodward is a love note to Detroit and its history.

Built in 1880, the building in the block south of Campus Martius originally was home to the Mabley & Co. Department Store. Then it became the Metropole Hotel. Eventually it stayed vacant for 47 years.

Not anymore. The new headquarters of Dan Gilbert’s real estate and development arm has been remodeled and restored. The building dazzles with a sleek exterior and revolving doors. The fourth-floor reception area has an espresso machine and sofas. An atrium allows a view of a staircase filled with big pillows where employees are encouraged to relax and meet. A huge Shinola clock is perched above the staircase.

Then there’s the wet bar.

It is an elegant speakeasy, like something out of an Al Capone film, hidden behind an innocuous-looking telephone booth. Access requires swiping a badge behind an old-fashioned phone.

But the 1930s art deco-style bar with low lighting and works of art is not for the average employee’s coffee break.

“It has a dark and mysterious feel with a functioning bar, but it is used for after-hours work, like at the end of the tour of the building, for one-on-one conversations to talk business with investors and others,” explained Jake Chidester, director of design for Bedrock.

Bedrock was based at One Campus Martius, on the other side of Detroit’s downtown hub.

The inspiration behind the interior design led by Kyle Evans Design stems in part from Bedrock’s updated logo and colors, combined with a nod to Detroit’s historic lumber industry.

There are railings inspired by the Ford Model T, original iron columns, salvaged historical elements and pieces of Detroit memorabilia.

Another nod to the history of the building is part of the original wall left intact behind the front lobby. It is tiled in white with green tiles as decorative trim. “Green gold” was a term commonly used in reference to the lumber commodity, and as such those colors are reflected throughout the headquarters.

Besides the conference rooms, there are areas described as “small moments of lounging,” where employees can meet spontaneously in comfortable seats, or at one of the bistro tables in front of large windows facing Woodward.

“This increases team members’ interaction with each other and builds relationships,” said Kyle Evans, of Kyle Evans Design.

Bedrock officials would not discuss the project’s cost.

Bedrock has purchased more than 90 downtown properties since 2011. The Gilbert entity and its affiliates have accumulated landmark skyscrapers, blocks of Woodward and at least 17,000 parking spaces.

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