WPP Offices – Detroit

Consistent with the WPP’s global program, the Detroit location is an adaptive re-use of an historic building in downtown, effectively relocating from a corporate office park in Dearborn to the middle of an active urban core.

  • Client WPP,
  • size 150,000 sqft
  • Year 2022
  • Location Detroit, Michigan, United States,
  • Industry Advertising / Marketing,
  • BDG architecture + design utilized blue tones, architectural elements, and modern touches for the WPP offices in Detroit, Michigan.

    In this case, the building is The Marquette Building, a 1905 historic structure that had originally been the site of the Murphy Power Company and the Murphy Storage and Ice Company.

    In urbanistic, architectural terms, this is not a cookie-cutter office for WPP; it is a crafted, thoughtful renovation of a building that represents Detroit’s urban history. Replacing most of a 1979 renovation, most of the interior was removed and rebuilt. All of the building systems are new: HVAC, lighting, graphics. The gist of the architectural interventions was not to include anything that was non-essential. Accordingly, much of what has been exposed in the original structure is visible: brick walls, columns, window frames, staircases. bracings, cast iron fire stair, windows, mosaics and concrete floors were left in place; sliding barn doors are from the original building as well, giving the interior a sense of place and authenticity.

    In terms of workplace design, the spaces support agile workflow and there are small, large-format, informal, open and private meeting spaces on every floor; everyone can equally access conference rooms, social spaces, and learning spaces to collaborate. Large-scale graphics reinforce the agencies’ branding, and also provide wayfinding for each floor.

    The wow moment of the renovation is the double-height top floor, with original arched windows and opening to the floor below in a lozenge-shaped well. The arch motif is repeated in the railings and on lower floors, and feels particularly appropriate as the arch and Art Deco visual styles were popular in Detroit in the early 1900’s.

    Innovative, custom light fixtures found throughout the offices are oversized circular forms that refer to both steering wheels and car wheels, and were custom designed by BDG for WPP. They were designed to be sound absorbent; each includes two skins of stretched acoustic fabric around a continuous circle of LED lighting. They emit ambient light on all of the workspaces and also house the sprinkler system. Here the designers found a creative, non-traditional way to approach the ceiling and acoustics budget.

    In the words of Colin Macgadagie, Creative Director of BDG, “The overarching idea behind this restoration and new interior is that this is a creative, transformational space for a creative transformation business in the middle of a city that is going through a creative transformation.”

    Design: BDG architecture + design
    Photography: Justin Maconochie, Phil Hutchinson