Several years ago, the only words that came to mind when someone mentioned Detroit were American car companies, urban decay, and vacant houses.
But now, Detroit is quickly becoming a hotbed for turning public places into art spaces, and one of its newest commercial developments is no exception.
“The Z” is a 535,00 square foot building, named for its zigzag shape stretching from the corner of Broadway and East Grand River to the corner of Gratiot and Library streets. But unlike any other nearby structures, the 10-story space houses 1,300 parking spots set against a backdrop of vibrant murals commissioned from more than 27 artists across the world. Bedrock Real Estate teamed up with the garage owner and art gallery Library Street Collective for the project, which opened in January.
The featured artists include Maya Hayuk, Interesni Kazki, Cyrcle, Sam Friedman, Augustine Kofie, Dabs Myla, Smash 137, Gaia, Pose and Revok, according to the gallery, and all come from a street or contemporary background.
“The project pretty much encapsulates the building that we’re in,” said Anthony Curis, of the Library Street Collectiv, on the gallery’s website. “It’s a very nontraditional space, but Detroit is a very nontraditional city.”
As drivers wind through each floor, they’ll find expansive murals, which are highlighted in a documentary displayed on a television screen near the lot’s first floor elevators. Making it all the way to the top not only gives those behind the wheel a glimpse of the whole project, but a 360-view of downtown Detroit as well.
Since its inception, “The Z” is now home to a gastro-pub and recently announced the forthcoming additions of a collectible sneaker store, Nojo Kicks; a farm-to-fork eatery, 7 Greens; and yoga studio Citizen Yoga, according to mlive.com.
Though it may only be a parking lot, “The Z” art project gives Detroit residents one more reason to love their city — and a new idea of how other American cities can innovate when it comes to public space.