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Jefferson Commons


Detroit, MI (2014)

Jefferson Commons is a small storefront space located within the Jefferson Chalmers neighborhood in Detroit. Too small for established uses, and too much storefront for a new business, our design through a process of subtraction opened the space up to its adjacent neighbors Riverside Art Gallery and Coffee (and) an important neighborhood hub.

The project exemplifies design and architecture as spatial negotiation. Without a clearly defined use we relied on dialogue with our neighbors on how to best use the space and incubate neighborhood entrepreneurs and community organizations. An architectural framework of fold out tables, doors, and roll out kiosks, flex and flow in response to various events. On the weekend Myras, an ice cream shop pops up to sell scoops of ice cream. During an evening gallery opening, Riverside Gallery folds out a table displaying art and connects visitors to Coffee (And). Over time Myra's moves to a larger space and Jefferson Commons transforms into the Storey Commons, a lending library building off the energy of Coffee (And). By opening up the space we reconfigured the internal dynamic within the mixed use commercial block. Events could flex and flow from one space to another. The process of sharing the space cultivated dialogue amongst neighbors and the open-endedness inspired creativity on how one's own space could connect and share with others.