Book Tower restoration to feature hotel, retail, office space
Correction: This story has been updated to correct the spelling of architect Louis Kamper's last name.
Detroit — Bedrock plans to bring the iconic Book Tower back to life with a mix of residential, hotel, retail and office space.
New York-based architect ODA was chosen from among 10 firms to lead the design effort in restoring the nearly 500,000-square-foot Washington Boulevard structure originally built in 1916.
“We selected them because they have quite a few projects around the country and around the world where they take a grand, historic icon and restore that building both back to its original moment in time, but then take it forward into the next century,” said Melissa Dittmer, chief design officer for Bedrock.
ODA’s design work includes the historic post office, POSTKantoor in Rotterdam, Netherlands, and a warehouse converted into a coworking space, 10 Jay, in New York City.
The Detroit restoration project includes the 38-story Book Tower and adjoining 13-story Book Building. Both spaces have sat empty since 2009.
Bedrock purchased the Book structures in 2015 and recently completed an extensive exterior restoration including the replacement of more than 2,400 historically accurate windows and fully restoring the ornamental cornice with caryatid statues. The project is expected to be completed in 2022.
The plan calls for retail on the first floor, office space on the second and third floors, hotel space on the fourth through eighth floors and residential units above that. The roof of the Book Building portion will feature a bar, restaurant and event space.
"That would be a great opportunity for everyone to experience the building not only at the ground floor, but at that location,” said Eran Chen, founding principal of ODA.
The Book Tower development is among several that Bedrock has in its construction pipeline. In May 2018, Bedrock won approval for $618 million in tax incentives for the projects that also include Hudson's Site, Monroe Blocks and the One Campus Martius expansion.
The 486,760-square-foot, Italian Renaissance-style Book structure was designed by Louis Kamper and originally built as an office tower. The goal is to preserve as much of the building as possible, including the stone columns and coffered ceilings. What can't be salvaged will be recreated, Chen said.
"We went very carefully," he said. "Every element we could find through plans and pictures will be recreated."
One highlight of the restoration will be the historic steel and glass skylight in the tower’s atrium. It was previously blocked.
“We’re creating that atrium, opening the slabs and really kind of following the original details of both the brilliant glass with its colors and its steelwork,” Chen said. “That will bring brilliant light into the core of the building.”
The local design partner on the project is Detroit-based Kraemer Design Group.
The public is invited to tour the Book Tower 1:30 p.m.- 6 p.m. Saturday as part of Detroit Design 139 exhibition.
To register, visit A Look Inside the Book Tower.