Detroit’s Argonaut Building Prepares to Start Its New Life as a School


It looks like Robert Lutz isn’t the only icon staying in Detroit for a little longer. The beautiful, gigantic Albert Kahn-designed Argonaut Building in the city, which General Motors had constructed and was using as one of their central design hubs for decades and then administrative offices up until the late 90s, when it was boarded up and had seemingly been simply buying time while awaiting the wrecking balls, has fortunately avoided such an violent end with GM deciding to donate the entire structure to the College for Creative Studies a short time ago. Now that the project is nearing competition and it’s set to re-open with its new life this fall, AutoWeek has this terrific story up about the building’s history, its restoration, and what the school plans to do within its massive 760,000 square feet of roominess. Certainly a nice change to see something positive within a story that uses “Detroit” and “architecture” in close proximity to one another. Here’s a bit about the plans:

The Argonaut will offer space for CCS programs, including new graduate programs, with dining and dorm space for 300. The building also will house a new sort of middle and secondary school, devoted to design. The idea is to hook inner-city kids early in the creative process and foster them along the way. Students of all ages will be able to learn from one another so, the theory goes, talent can be seamlessly encouraged and developed from first budding to full blooming.

There will be a rooftop conference center for public, academic and corporate events. A parking garage for 500 vehicles was added, as well as a gallery and retail space for rent. All told, the planners say, the refurbished building will bring about 2,000 people daily to the New Center area, supporting retail, services and other business.