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AIA Michigan Honors McIntosh Poris Associates With Three Awards for Design Excellence


McIntosh Poris Associates has received three AIA Michigan Honor Awards for design excellence in various categories.  The firm has been awarded for Detroit’s East Riverfront Framework Plan in the Unbuilt Project category and the Michigan Research Studio in the Low Budget/Small Project category.  In addition, Laurie Hughet-Hiller, AIA, Associate at McIntosh Poris Associates, has been acknowledged with the notable Young Architect Award.

East Riverfront Framework Plan

Through a national design competition, The Detroit RiverFront Conservancy, City of Detroit Planning & Development Department, and the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation selected a design team to develop a strategic framework plan for the City’s East Riverfront District.  The winning proposal was led by Chicago-based Skidmore, Owings & Merrill with Detroit’s McIntosh Poris Associates, and French landscape architect Michel Desvigne, economic consultant HR&A Advisors, and five other Detroit-based firms.  The team was selected in April 2016 from seven finalists among 24 teams.

Titled “Your Detroit East Riverfront,” the plan was developed during months of public engagement, meetings, and site tours to provide citizens the opportunity to participate in the planning process.  The goal is to transform a blighted two-mile stretch of the waterfront from downtown, along the Detroit River to Belle Isle Park and north to Larned Street, including Jefferson Avenue, into a dynamic series of neighborhoods.  Among the challenges was to find ways to connect neighborhoods north of the nine-lane wide Jefferson Avenue to the riverfront.  The final plan provides a vision for creating more publicly accessible parks, connective greenways, pedestrian- and bike-friendly streets, and mixed-use developments.

“This urban design plan suggests, finally, how incrementalism begets infrastructure and how the sum of small plans adds up to something bigger and better,” said the awards jury, who recognizes unbuilt projects commissioned for compensation or research and design competitions.

Michigan Research Studio

Although the build-out budget was tight, the 3,715-square-foot Michigan Research Studio—an off-campus facility for the University of Michigan’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning—offers an inspiring place to learn for Detroit public high school students.  Located on the ground floor of the mixed-use 3909 Woodward Garden Apartments (a ground-up building also designed by McIntosh Poris Associates) in Detroit, the studio provides college preparatory classes on architecture, urbanism, and design led by Taubman College teaching fellows.  The minimalist, open-plan facility simulates a collegiate classroom setting with flexible spaces for seminars, lectures, student exhibitions, design studio, and architectural research.  The space features exposed ceiling components—structural steel, ductwork, and plumbing—to provide points of reference for students.  Polished concrete flooring and pendant tube lighting contribute to the industrial, studio-like feeling.  Student interaction is encouraged through laptops, wall pin-ups, and configurable drawing tables and chairs.  The University of Michigan’s spirit is depicted through bold school colors in yellow and blue paint.

“It looks as though all the budget could afford was paint, lights, tables, and chairs, but every decision was the right one—easy to say, but very difficult to do,” noted the jury, who recognizes projects with constraints of small budget, scale, and size.  “Perfect choices for an inspiring and useful space.”

Laurie Hughet-Hiller

As a recipient of the Young Architect Award, Hughet-Hiller, AIA, has demonstrated exceptional accomplishment, societal dedication, and community service.  Upon graduation in 2006, she began her career in Los Angeles at Rossetti’s Los Angeles office and Clive Wilkinson Architects, who is internationally recognized for designing creative communities.  She decided to pursue her professional goals in Detroit and returned to her home state of Michigan in 2009.  At McIntosh Poris Associates, she has led progressive commercial, hospitality, creative office, and multi-family residential projects.  Some of her career highlights at the firm include the award-winning Michigan Research Studio, and the schematic design for the Downtown Synagogue, which involved several years of community engagement.  Hughet-Hiller received her Bachelor of Science in Architecture (2004) and Master of Architecture (2006) degrees from the University of Michigan’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, where she earned numerous scholarships and graduated with honors.  She is currently a board member at CREW (Commercial Real Estate Women) in Detroit, where she serves as an advocate of advancing women’s success in commercial real estate.

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.