McIntosh Poris Associates
Michael Poris, AIA, Principal-in-Charge
Laurie Hughet-Hiller, Associate, Project Architect
Sean Ryan, Designer
Elizabeth Swallow, Interior Designer
Renee Kaip, Interior Designer
Size: 7,484 square feet, including 1,800-square-foot indoor/outdoor structure, and 1,440-square-foot outdoor patio
Budget: $1.2 million
Client: Restauranteur Jeremy Sasson, whose first Townhouse restaurant is in neighboring Birmingham, MI
Site: The restaurant occupies the ground floor of One Detroit Center, a 43-story skyscraper and class-A office building on the corner of Woodward and Congress in downtown Detroit’s Financial District.
Program: Complete renovation to accommodate new restaurant, including main bar, dining room, sushi bar, whiskey lounge, indoor/outdoor structure (with bar and dining area), patio, and open kitchen.
Design: McIntosh Poris Associates designed the new location for Townhouse, on the ground-level of One Detroit Center in downtown Detroit’s Financial District, incorporating the urban landscape with a touch of sophistication. The ground-floor restaurant covers 7,484 square feet and features multiple experiences: a U-shaped bar, a custom-designed steel-and-glass atrium structure with operable roof and walls, a cozy whiskey lounge, and an outdoor patio enclosed by verdant planters. Interior spaces feature luxurious textures, including distressed leathers and rich woods, along with playful wall graphics for a distinctive environment. Color schemes of white, red, and black were used throughout for a cohesive brand identity.
Vintage-style light bulb signage provides prominent exterior identification. A U-shaped bar, seating nearly 25, is designed for socializing and allows patrons to start conversations right next to each other or across the way. It recalls an old-diner or little tavern atmosphere inspiring patrons to mingle with one another. Brown distressed-leather and tuft-back studded bar stools set an inviting mood. The bar area features black chalkboard walls with bold graphics and connects to the “whiskey wall,” showcasing an assortment of whiskey offerings and other alcoholic beverages. Adjoining the wall is a lounge combining black cabinetry, walnut panels, and red pops of color for a modern saloon feeling. Wingback arm chairs offer comfortable seating for sipping craft cocktails.
Interior spaces encourage interaction among patrons and make food preparation part of the scenery. The indoor dining area faces an open kitchen and includes walnut-wood tables and chairs, as well as a long black-leather banquette for relaxed enjoyment. A mural declaring “This town ain't for weenies!” acts as a backdrop to the sushi bar. A low wooden ledge provides easy reach for dishes. Clear-bulb pendant lighting fixtures tie the interior décor with the exterior signage.
New French doors replace former high windows opening to the outdoor patio and street. The restaurant’s centerpiece is a 1,800-square-foot indoor/outdoor greenhouse-like, glass-enclosed structure with a pitched, retractable roof and walls to accommodate year-round outdoor dining. The glass roof panels quickly open sideways and stack over the ends to immerse the dining space with the cityscape. Side walls also slide open and stack at corners. Exposed ceiling components, such as ventilation ducts and structural beams, produce an industrial sensibility.
The outdoor bar and dining area features indoor-style furnishings. Tuft-back bar stools and banquettes were intentionally selected to appear as though the indoor dining experience was brought outside. Living plant walls featuring moss, ferns, and branches frame bulb sconces for an innovative natural effect. Rustic wire lighting fixtures complement the sconces and create coziness within the space. Large planters holding lush greenery and 14-foot-tall trees are dispersed within exterior spaces.
The patio provides open-air dining with spectacular views of the urban landscape. White tabletops, red wire-mesh metal chairs, and black napkins extend the color theme outside. Low shrub planters and portable outdoor heaters delineate the patio perimeter.
Firm: McIntosh Poris Associates is a full-service architecture, interiors, and urban design firm. Founded in 1994 by the late Douglas McIntosh and Michael Poris, AIA, the firm’s goal is to transform buildings, communities, and urban centers with architecture realized through vision and dialogue. Since its inception, McIntosh Poris Associates has been designing award-winning projects for residential, commercial, and institutional clients. The firm has built numerous single- and multi-family residential, mixed-use, commercial, hospitality, institutional, and arts projects in Michigan, California, Connecticut, New York, and Ontario.
Construction Manager: Milo Building Company Inc.
MEP Engineer: MA Engineering Consultants, Inc.
Structural Engineer: Desai/Nasr Consulting Engineers
Photography: Michelle and Chris Gerard