Student(s): Kyle Zook
Instructor(s): Kristy Balliet
Course: ARCH 7420: Advanced Architectural Design II
Term: Spring 2016

Along the Detroit waterfront lies an expansive site, half occupied by the a currently underutilized infrastructure for the United States Postal Service. The existing condition is a massive monolithic mass only experienced around and as an edge. The only peek into what's going on inside this “postal fortress” is the occasional raising to allow trucks inside or the quick sprint to the top of the podium before security removes you from the premises.


In order to de-politicize the current post office scheme and restore a narrative of experience within the city of Detroit, a process of reinterpreting the existing was utilized both formally and programmatically. This method builds a dialogue between presence and absence of the previously understood experience.


A public typology, an aquarium, is juxtaposed with that of the currently primarily private post office program which is kept in the new scheme. These two programs are overlapped in multiple places and develop a relationship of the public body within the conditions of the post office through visual connections which formally materialize as spatial intersections.


The size of the massive Fort street facade is maintained so that one reads a presence of the previous, however, now it is opened up to project its interior processes out across corktown.

The podium which was used for trucks is brought down to the pedestrian level and stretched across the site to allow for pedestrian movement across and within the scheme.


A plane for an assembly of exterior programmatic experiences showing how the “bigness” of this built environment can be occupied by individuated experiences. Across the plane there are moments where a space is protruding out and opening up an experience of the aquarium to the public. In a similar manner there are moments where you can see into the operations of the mail declaring the ubiquitous democratizing of both the past and present programs.



The relationship of the front and back facade system sets up a third facade that oscillates between the two and makes an entrance that pulls in from the downtown. The facade establishes the first step in a progression of spaces across the scheme which reiterates the narrative of breaking down the private mass with a multitude of public experience.