A former fire house in Detroit’s Easter Market District has just opened its doors as a sprawling new contemporary arts center. Wasserman Projects will act as a gallery, performance space and educational venue that will help foster Detroit’s growing artistic community. Funded by cultural producer Gary Wasserman, the project transformed the disused space into a center geared to serve artists, allowing them to share their visions with the local community in a professional venue.
The 5,000 square foot raw space once housed the repair shop for the Hook and Ladder house No. 5. Built in 1917, the building was listed on the Michigan state register in 1975, and recognized by the National Register of Historic places in 1997. Wanting to preserve the character of the space, Wasserman Projects preserved the existing brick work, interior and oversized glass garage door that once serviced fire trucks. An adjacent space once used by firemen is now the “Process space,” which includes original brick masonry.
For Wasserman Projects’ first exhibition, the spirit of sustainable design and adaptive reuse is echoed in a collaborative piece by architect Nick Gelpi and painter Markus Linnenbrink. Contained inside the gallery, the duo has built a mixed-use geometric pavilion, divided into two movable halves. The pavilion’s angular exterior is clad in natural wood, but the interior bears the bold and colorful painted stripes of Linnenbrink. When together, the pavilion creates an enclosed installation, but wheeled apart, the installation becomes an impromptu performance space and adjacent seating area for an audience.
Outside, Wasserman Projects is flanked by a repurposed corrugated metal grain silo, which has been transformed into a sound experience installation by local artist Jon Brumit. Together, the installations represent Wasserman’s proposed program to activate Detroit’s art, design and music community, by providing a venue for artists not only to exhibit, but to foster a communication between artists and local audience. Wasserman Projects plans a programming schedule of exhibitions, discussions, musical performances, and other events that promote the sharing of creativity.
Images ©Lori Zimmer for Inhabitat
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