McIntosh Poris Associates Celebrated for Transformation of Historic Detroit Projects

Firm Honored With Multiple Awards for Design Excellence and Historic Expertise


McIntosh Poris Associates was recently recognized for its sensitive design and rehabilitation of The Gallery | The Fresco (Left) and The Assembly (Right) by AIAMI and MHPN, respectively. Photos: Justin Maconochie. Click here for high-resolution images.

DETROIT, MI:  McIntosh Poris Associates was recently recognized by local professional organizations for its sensitive design and rehabilitation of historic buildings in Detroit.  The Michigan chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIAMI) awarded the firm with a 2020 Honor Award in the Interior category for the renovation of The Gallery | The Fresco restaurant at the Detroit Athletic Club.  The Michigan Historic Preservation Network (MHPN) also presented its 2020 Building Award to the firm for its rehabilitation and preservation work on The Assembly, a mixed-use building in the Corktown neighborhood of Detroit.

“Recognition from these leading organizations invigorates our mission to elevate the rich history of Detroit through modern design,” said Michael Poris, AIA, Co-Founding Principal at McIntosh Poris Associates.  “Renewing architectural treasures of the past has been a core practice of our firm for more than 25 years, and we are committed to revitalizing historic buildings for use today while maintaining and honoring their heritage.”

Throughout the firm’s tenure, McIntosh Poris Associates’ historic renovation work has garnered awards and acclaim from the AIA and several leading organizations.  For their work on historic projects such as the Detroit Foundation Hotel and Woodward Garden Theater, the firm has been recognized by AIA Detroit, AIAMI, CAM Detroit, CREW Detroit, Commerce Design, MHPN, Michigan Governor’s Award, and Urban Land Institute.


The Gallery | The Fresco
To modernize its dining experience, the historic Detroit Athletic Club (DAC) engaged McIntosh Poris Associates to transform the former two-wing Grill Room into a singular, cohesive restaurant rebranded The Gallery | The Fresco.  McIntosh Poris Associates’ design solutions highlight the architectural treasures of the club (designed in 1915 by Albert Kahn, FAIA) while connecting the spaces through updated finishes and custom craftsmanship.  In the renovation, the original details were preserved and enhanced with new materials to respect the club’s history and foster more intimate and personalized dining experiences for DAC members.  Historic elements include oak millwork and vaulted plaster ceilings that were restored with decorative illustrations, moldings, trims, and rosettes.  The original Pewabic tile flooring in the less-formal “Fresco” section is connected to the formal “Gallery” with custom carpeting that references the tiles’ patterns and colors.  Murals in The Fresco area were painted by local artist Hubert Massey in 1999.

“This project demonstrates great restraint in preserving and enhancing a historic interior while utilizing multiple forms of artificial lighting in a complementary manner,” said the awards jury.  Former Detroit Athletic Club Executive Manager Ted Gillary adds, “The McIntosh Poris Associates team had a special vision from the start.”


The Assembly
Bedrock Management Services enlisted McIntosh Poris Associates to convert a historic warehouse into The Assembly, a high-end mixed-use building with an authentic industrial character.  The design celebrates the building—originally built in 1913—and its history by enhancing the existing brick, concrete, and metal with new materials.  Large expanses of historic-replica factory windows, along with floor-to-ceiling glass doors, were installed to provide abundant transparency and light.  An original loading dock on the ground floor was converted into a double-height lobby, serving both residential and commercial spaces.  McIntosh Poris Associates added a metal-clad addition to the top floor to create penthouse lofts and establish a contemporary outlook.  Residential amenities include a community room, common spaces, a fitness center, and private/public outdoor terraces.

Previously, the building served as an industrial dry-goods warehouse for Edson, Moore & Company.  In 2017, the property was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  MHPN presents its annual Building Award to outstanding rehabilitation projects that have made a significant contribution to the preservation of Michigan’s heritage.  From the firm’s inception, McIntosh Poris Associates has been on a mission to transform buildings, communities, and urban centers to meet the demands of a modern-day Detroit.  The architects’ expertise in leading creative redevelopment programs has been sought out as a result of successfully revitalizing, building, and strengthening Detroit communities.

McIntosh Poris Associates is a full-service architecture, interiors, and urban design firm.  Founded in 1994 by Michael Poris, AIA, and the late Douglas McIntosh, the firm transforms buildings, communities, and urban centers with architecture created through dialogue.  Since 1994, McIntosh Poris Associates has won more than 100 awards for single- and multi-family residential, mixed-use, commercial, hospitality, institutional, and arts projects throughout Michigan, New York, and Ontario for private, public, and non-profit clients.