Detroit Athletic Club


Detroit Athletic Club Expansion and Renovation Master Plan

Detroit, Michigan

25000 gsf

Illumination Awards - Award of Merit, Illumination Awards - Section Award

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In a city filled with notable architecture, the Detroit Athletic Club stands out as one of the city’s most significant buildings. Noted architect Albert Kahn designed the exquisitely detailed Neo-Renaissance structure in 1915. It featured social, athletic and residential sectors, with amenities that included a billiard room and Turkish baths. It had been occasionally updated over the decades, yet the layout and rich detailing remained basically as Kahn intended. By the 21st century, the time had come for more significant improvements to address architectural preservation, modern building codes and the changing needs and interests of the membership. 


In keeping with the expansion/renovation master plan developed by SmithGroupJJR, the DAC expanded its athletic facilities to include squash and handball courts, a fitness center, bowling facility, running track and new locker rooms. It restored the lobby and dining rooms to their original grandeur, and added a new entrance lobby, expanded dining options, more club spaces, and a new vehicular entry and porte cochere. A layered system of 3,000 LED lights, mounted unobtrusively on a small cornice, emphasizes the building’s intricate architectural detail, adding reverence and establishing the club as an urban landmark.