December 18, 2018
McIntosh Poris Associates Elevates Adaptive Reuse Expert to Principal
John Skok to Lead Firm’s Operations and Management Efforts
DETROIT: John Skok, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP, has been promoted from associate to principal of Birmingham-based McIntosh Poris Associates. Skok, who joined the firm in 2001, is the first to share the firm’s leadership with founding principal Michael Poris, AIA, since the 2006 passing of Douglas McIntosh, who cofounded the practice nearly 25 years ago.
“John has grown into a valuable team player and leads our operations and management efforts to benefit our clients,” says Poris. “As an expert in adaptive reuse and preservation, he solves the complex challenges of revitalizing historic buildings through a systematic approach to design, building codes, budgets, community input, and construction.”
Skok is involved in every aspect of project management alongside Poris at the nimble 18-person firm. By leading McIntosh Poris Associates’ operations process, he acts as the “glue” that binds client constituencies and consultants together to ensure design aspirations and goals are turned into reality. Skok also assumes a broader role in directing the design process for staff members and overseeing marketing efforts to expand the firm’s client portfolio.
Since joining the firm as a designer, Skok has helped to revitalize Detroit through a variety of significant preservation and adaptive reuse developments. “From the beginning, I had the opportunity to administer projects through each phase of design and construction, allowing me to address challenges, offer various solutions, and see numerous buildings through completion,” says the 41-year-old Skok. “My goal has always been to find design solutions that make spaces more relatable to the people who use them.”
Skok launched his career at McIntosh Poris Associates with the conversion of a 1925 bank building into the vibrant Panacea techno nightclub, juxtaposing “urban archaeology” and minimalist design to spark new life in Detroit’s re-emerging downtown district. Another of his notable projects is the renowned adaptive reuse of the old Detroit Fire Department Headquarters and transformation into the nationally recognized boutique Detroit Foundation Hotel. The design pays homage to the history of the 1929 neoclassical building, while adding contemporary details and elements handcrafted by local artisans. The project received numerous awards, including the prestigious Michigan Governor’s Award for Historic Preservation, the Michigan Historic Preservation Network’s Historic Preservation Award, and the American Institute of Architecture (AIA) Michigan’s Honor Award.
Other projects led by Skok include the renovation of a former factory located in Detroit’s historic Corktown neighborhood into offices for Ford Motor Company’s electric and autonomous vehicle business teams. Skok is also overseeing the design of the Center for Nonprofit Support, a hub providing resources for nonprofit leaders and practitioners, as well as a mixed-use redevelopment of Detroit’s historic Eastern Market.
“Our firm is fully vested in the City of Detroit and its future,” says Skok. “The revitalization of historic buildings and landmarks requires a balance between old and new, original purpose and new use. I ensure historic preservation is approached with tact and sensitivity to bring new life to old structures and give them longevity to withstand the test of time.”
While at McIntosh Poris Associates, Skok has overseen improvements to analyze and document historic structures for adaptive reuse. He implemented methods that include 3-D structural scanning (rather than laborious field measurements), drone technology to fly above buildings for data acquisition, and virtual reality to present design concepts. “We have better tools to study buildings,” he says. “Now it takes less time to gather information with a higher degree of accuracy. These advancements provide huge benefits toward preserving Detroit’s legacy of great building stock.”
As a student, Skok learned to design furniture and gained an appreciation for high-quality craft as a result. “I still build wood furniture in my home shop,” he says. “The craftsmanship of design is just as important to me as the concept behind it.”
Skok earned a Bachelor of Architecture degree in 2000 from the University of Detroit Mercy. One of his professors and mentors, Father Terrence Curry, SJ, AIA, a Jesuit priest and founder of the Detroit Collaborative Design Center, taught him the value of community engagement and effective listening. Skok also learned about the importance of collaborative design through student work with nonprofit organizations and foundations.
“We came to understand that architecture is not just for the elite,” says Skok. “All residents of the city should benefit from it. That lesson still applies to my work as I partner with the many organizations and individuals who are involved in our projects.”
Skok remains involved in his alma mater by serving on the School of Architecture’s alumni council and dean’s board of advisors. He is a former member of the board of zoning appeals for the City of Ferndale, MI, where he lives with his wife Katie and three children, Natalie, Andrew, and Charlotte.
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.