Project Detail


Cranbrook Art Museum & Collections Building

Bloomfield Hills, MI United States


Project Description

The 31,200-square foot Collections Building provides 7,000-square feet of art collection storage, creates a receiving area and adds space to accommodate the physical care of the works. The facility also contains a new physical plant that also serves the existing museum.

The three rectangular volumes decrease in height and width as they recede northward away from the museum. A continuous brick wall faces the entry court and is toned a deep rich brown and clear coated to provide for gentle reflections. The wall is trimmed with fine blades of stainless steel and accented by a lone stainless steel bench that marks the termination of the Grande Allee. The simple expression, separated from the original by the exterior Chinese Lion stair creates a dialogue with the clean lines of Saarinen’s Museum.

The eastern side of the Collection Building is the service court for the Museum and the entrance court for the Studio Building. This space is expected to become part of the new entry drive court when the final phase of the Museum master plan is in place. The decreasing volumes of the Collection Building are clad in the same brick as the Studio Building simplifying the overall palette. Also anchoring this edge is the zinc clad steel panels of the service court. These enclose the working yard of the Collections Building as a counterpoint to the lead coated copper panels on the ceramic studio. Completing the composition is a stainless steel clad projected window. Here the deep brown brick wrapping the structure from the west unites with the light red brick of the Studio Building to engage the window and define the Seminar Room within.

This structure to house the art collection is a finely crafted, environmentally robust warehouse that is a place for art and is addressed as a piece of art. Utilitarian concrete block is detailed to enhance the material quality to an artistic light. Openings within the block have a stainless steel plate surround. Mahogany plank doors are introduced with custom stainless steel push/pulls to accentuate the act of crossing each threshold.

Nearly doubling the museum’s usable floor space, the Collections Building allows the full collection of design, textiles, ceramics and fine art, many from famed designers, such as Charles Eames, Florence Knoll and various other luminaries of art and design, to be displayed and accessed, underscoring the pedagogical mission of the institution by bringing the collection to life for a new generation of artists, students and visitors.


Project Details

Cranbrook Art Museum & Collections Building
Shared by:
Project Team:
    Paul Urbanek, project designer; Kevin Shultis, principal-in-charge/project manager; Ryan Smith, project architect; Darin Daguanno; Terry Guitar; Frank Muehlenbein; Frank Weber; Mark Goyette; Ben Motyl; Tom O’Connor; Jared Lawrence; Andrew Dunlap; Meredith Steckling; Jerry Carter; Brian Noonan, PE, Mechanical Engineer; Curt Songer, Mechanical Engineer; Andrea Reynolds, Structural Engineer; Michael Skalsky, Structural Designer; Lokman Abbas, Electrical Engineer; Jeff Gerwing, Lighting Designer;
  • Civil Engineer: Spalding deDecker Associates, Inc. 
  • General Contractor: Frank Rewold & Sons 
Project Scope:
Project Type:
Project Status:
Year Completed:
Project Size:
    82,000 sq ft


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