Detroit Institute of Arts


Master Plan Implementation and Renovation

Detroit, Michigan

658,000 gsf (existing); 57,650 gsf (addition), 61,130 m2 (existing); 5,357 m2 (addition)

Architecture, Building Systems Consulting, Engineering, Landscape Architecture, Lighting Design, Urban Planning and Design, Historic Preservation

Impact Award -- Redevelopment

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Renowned for its superlative art collection and 1927 Beaux Arts-style building, the Detroit Institute of Arts engaged Michael Graves & Associates in 1990 to prepare a master plan for its renovation and expansion. SmithGroupJJR implemented the plan's long-term goals, including an expansion, enhanced entrances, improved interior circulation paths, and upgraded building systems and exterior walls to maintain proper environmental conditions in the galleries.

When the museum reopened, the building improvements, combined with a completely new strategy for interpreting its collection for the general public, transformed the experience for both returning patrons and new visitors.

The new loggia and improved entrance open the long, rear façade of the museum to the neighborhood, providing welcoming entrance points specially designated for student and adult groups, while maintaining the graceful tradition of the main entrance from Woodward Avenue. This simple move—amplified by new exterior lighting—presents what used to be the cultural venue's "back door” as a bold and inviting presence.

To allow for almost continual operation of the Detroit Institute of Arts, SmithGroupJJR staged the renovation in complex, strategic phases. The facility was able to stay open and even host major exhibitions during the renovation.

Related Content

DIA Renovation & Expansion Facts
Want to learn more about the project? Check out this fact sheet from the DIA.

Wall System for the 21st Century
Work of Art to Preserve a World Class Art Collection