MVRDV commissioned to design Glass Mural in Detroit’s Eastern Market

Glass Mural

MVRDV has released details about Glass Mural, a one-of-a-kind, four-storey office and retail building located in Detroit’s beloved Eastern Market neighbourhood. Located just outside the city’s downtown core, the existing character of Eastern Market was a clear inspiration for the project’s design. Vibrant and popular, the historic Eastern Market is the largest public farmers market in the United States, and continues to thrive as an active food hub for the region after nearly 130 years.

Designed by MVRDV, with its colorfully printed glass façades that both celebrate existing murals and add new artistic works to the area, Glass Mural takes a new approach to preserving art and memory through architecture and technology in one of the United States’ most architecturally distinctive cities. In 2015, Detroit was the country’s first designated ‘UNESCO City of Design’. Glass Mural is an exemplary example of how the city is charting a new path forward in 21st century architecture and design.

Glass Mural will be located directly across Eastern Market’s largest and busiest market hall, Shed 3, at the intersection of Russell and Division Street. Currently, the site is home to a twostorey brick building whose key redeeming feature is a mural by the established local artist DENIAL. MVRDV’s proposal is to visually preserve this artwork by recreating the mural and brick pattern on a new canvas made of glass – combining a larger version of the mural with images of the building’s brick pattern as a single image, stretched around all four sides of the building.

MVRDV’s design for the 40,000-square-foot/3,716-square-meter building comprises a stack of shifting blocks, which becomes a canvas to build upon the area’s vibrant and creative character. Winy Maas, founding partner at MVRDV, said, “the proportions of the blocks refer and connect to the human-scale of Eastern Market.” Operationally, Glass Mural will have a ground-level retail storefront, with three floors of offices dispersed throughout the two primary glass blocks with permanent artworks.

The third block will house circulation cores and access to the roof deck, which will be a fully occupiable amenity for office tenants. In slight contrast with DENIAL’s work on the first block, the second block will present a newly commissioned mural by Sheefy McFly, one of Detroit’s top emerging artists. The building blocks and murals will make use of cutting-edge glass printing techniques to combine the colourful artworks with areas of transparency, providing windows for the shops and offices inside.

Unlike the other glass facades, the third block will feature a “flat façade finish” to create a canvas that will be ever-changing. It will provide an opportunity for different artists over time to come and paint murals. The glass facades will be produced using digital ceramic printing, a technique which MVRDV has considerable experience in. They previously used the technology in their 2013 project Glass Farm, where an image of a typical Dutch farmhouse was enlarged and printed onto the exterior of a new glass building in the heart of the village of Schijndel, the Netherlands. Source by MVRDV.

  • Location: Detroit, USA
  • Architect: MVRDV
  • Partner in charge: Winy Maas
  • Partner: Frans de Witte
  • Design Team: Fedor Bron, Anouk Wilmering, Daniele Zonta, Sandra Jasionyte, Laura López Iglesias, Viktor Tamm, Fouad Addou, Elina Gaillard Visualisations: Antonio Luca Coco, Pavlos Ventouris, Luca Piattelli, Angelo LaDelfa, Kirill Emelianov, Francesco Vitale, Luana La Martina
  • Co-Architect: Integrated Design Solutions (Jeffrey D. Johnson, Jeffrey J. Zona, Adrian LaTona, Kevin Marshall)
  • MEP: Integrated Design Solutions (Greg Sell, Dave DiCiuccio, Dominic Paome)
  • Structural Engineer: IBI (Robert Aeck)
  • Civil Engineer: PEA (Burke Jenkins)
  • Contractor: L.S. Brinker Company (Dwight Hooks, Larry Brinker Jr) Artists: DENIAL (Daniel Bombardier), Sheefy McFly
  • Client: FIRM Real Estate
  • Size and Programme: 3,716 m2 Office and retail
  • Year: 2020
  • Photographs: Courtesy of MVRDV

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