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Halfpipe draws crowds in Detroit’s Fisher Building lobby

A cross-cultural skating event is taking over an iconic Detroit landmark for four days.

The “Fisher Halfpipe” has been set up in the elegant lobby of the Fisher Building — as part of an effort to promote the city’s New Center Area.

Professional and semi-pro skateboarders, inline skaters and BMX bikers will ride four at a time on the 26-foot-long, 16-foot-wide ramp. The half-pipe is surrounded by historic 1920s Detroit architecture in what’s widely considered the most ornamented gallery in the city.

The half-pipe was built in metro Detroit, painted with bright colors and nature-inspired designed to reflect the building’s interior.

“The #FisherHalfpipe will be a monolithic mass bisecting the main arcade of the #FisherBuilding Lobby,” promoters say, in a news release. “Patrons will walk through gateways beneath and will be able to view skaters above with the magnificent Fisher as a backdrop, curves of the structure and the arcs of skaters cutting through space mirroring the Fisher’s vaulted, frescoed and inlaid walls and ceilings.

Everard Findlay, chief innovation officer of the development firm that co-owns the building, says the event celebrates both Detroit’s role in American innovation and the skateboard as an American invention.

Jen Yanke brought her son, Ethan.

“They’re making that stuff in the driveway and the street, trying to jump their scooters all the time anyway,” she told WWJ’s Sandra McNeill. “So when I saw this was down here we thought we’d try and see what it was all about.”

It was Ethan’s first time at the Fisher, and he was impressed: “I went to the Capitol and the ceiling is just like this one; it’s so cool.”

“It is beautiful,” his mom added. “It seems like the picture of Detroit right now, kinda making all things new.”

Skaters and spectators are invited to attend from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. through Thursday, inside the Fisher Building at 3011 W Grand Blvd., Detroit, in front of the Fisher Theatre. Admission is free.

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Halfpipe draws crowds in Detroit’s Fisher Building lobby

A BMX and skateboarding halfpipe has been set up right in the middle of Detroit’s magnificent Fisher Building.

The “Fisher Halfpipe” kicked off Monday night at Fisher Building. Professional and semi-pro skateboarders, inline skaters and BMX bikers will ride four at a time on the 26-foot-long, 16-foot-wide ramp. The half-pipe is surrounded by historic 1920s Detroit architecture in what’s widely considered the most ornamented gallery in the city.

The state-of-the-art halfpipe is located right in the middle of the building’s lobby. Artwork on the halfpipe mirrors the new artwork on the Fisher’s ceiling with a modern twist.

“Skating has this really powerful and unique way of really being inclusive, of being a cross-cultural platform,” says creator Everard Findlay. He says the project meshes old Detroit with the new.

Thousands of people showed interest in using the halfpipe. About one hundred people were pre-selected to use the equipment.

The halfpipe won’t be in the building forever, as much as some of the skaters would like that. It will be open from 6-9 p.m. every day this week until Thursday, April 6, 2017.

Skating registration is closed but it’s still open to the public if you want to come out and watch the skaters.

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In Fisher Building lobby, skateboarders fly on halfpipe

Cayden Byington looks younger than his 14 years, but handled his skateboard like an old pro Monday on what may be Michigan’s most unique half-pipe, set up inside Detroit’s Fisher Building.

“It’s really cool, just being around all this old architecture and the marble,” the Wayland teen said, looking up at the ornate ceiling. “It’s really breathtaking in here.”

The Fisher Halfpipe event is meant to bring people together and celebrate American invention, said Everard Findlay, chief innovation officer of the Platform, a Detroit development firm that co-owns the building in New Center. Skaters and spectators are invited to drop in from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. through Thursday.

“You could have no money in your pocket or $1 million in your pocket,” Findlay said. “And on the skate park, you kind of support and represent each other — and push each other forward.”

Four at a time, professional and semi-pro skateboarders will ride the 26-foot-long, 16-foot-wide ramp, surrounded by classic 1920s Detroit architecture in what’s widely considered the most beautifully designed and ornamented arcade in the city.

Findlay said the skateboard is a true American invention, and the project celebrates Detroit’s role in American innovation. The art deco Fisher Building, designed by renowned architect Albert Kahn, was built by the family that owned Fisher Body, an automobile coach-builder.

The event includes live music and food. Celebrities as well as visitors from as far away as France and Belgium are expected to attend.

“It’s just a celebration of these things that are kind of bringing Detroit together,” Findlay said.

The Fisher was buzzing late Monday afternoon as dozens of spectators watched pros and semi-pros tackle the half-pipe with skateboards, inline skates and BMX bikes. Music, the sound of wheels soaring across wood and the occasional thud — when someone took a spill — echoed throughout the building’s lobby.

Bridget O’Connor of Sterling Heights watched with her wide-eyed, 6-year-old granddaughter, Ella Simon, in her arms.

“It’s awesome. I love the fact that they’re trying to bring all these folks together. It’s such a beautiful venue,” O’Connor said.

Dan Austin, a spokesman for the Platform, said that after years of struggling with occupancy, the Fisher Building is now part of new life in New Center as the Q-Line and other developments bring more energy to the area.

As part of a series of planned renovations for the building, the Platform brought artisans in earlier this year to repair and touch up the ornate murals that cover the soaring, vaulted arcade.

The half-pipe was built in metro Detroit. Artists used bright colors and nature-inspired designs to reflect styles seen throughout the Fisher’s interior. It’s on a 4-foot-high platform and stands about 8.5 feet high.

The public is invited to observe, and depending on availability, amateur skaters may get a chance to ride the half-pipe.

After signing a waiver, Cayden stood at the top of the half-pipe with calm focus, standing among people twice his age as he waited his turn. He finally lowered his board and smoothly glided back and forth.

“It’s pretty slippery,” he said afterward, “and I was feeling nervous with so many people watching. But it really was a lot of fun.”

Read on the Vice

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Art-Deco Half-Pipe Inside an Iconic 1920s Skyscraper

Everard Findlay brought an extreme sports installation to Albert Kahn’s landmark Detroit architecture, the Fisher Building.

It’s a sight Fisher Building architect Albert Kahn couldn’t fathom in 1928: a five-foot mini-ramp packed with skateboarders in one of his greatest architectural achievements. In Detroit, such a brash juxtaposition is becoming the norm. As the city’s creative class grows, it’s spilling into Detroit’s historic building stock. It’s a trend in post-industrial cities with space to spare, but Everard Findlay’s extreme sports vision set inside of Detroit’s largest art object (the Fisher Building’s oft-quoted nickname) still manages to make a bold statement.

The installation stretched across four days and attracted an array of architecture nerds, extreme sports fans and youthful faces from the nearby neighborhood. Members of legendary techno outfit Underground Resistance provided the soundtrack. The entire project was completed in under two weeks—two days for construction (led by Detroit-based Ramped Construction), and less than 10 days for the paint job.

It’s a swift timeline familiar to the building’s history. The 1.1 million square foot skyscraper was completed in just 15 months and boasts 430 tons of bronze, a stunning three-story arcade with a mammoth fresco finish and over 50 types of marble from around the globe (nothing like breaking your arm skateboarding on the fine Italian marble of the Fisher Building).

A trio of local artists—Miranda Wedge, Brian Oscar and Hillary Butterworth—designed the mini-ramp’s vivid tribute to Géza Maróti’s stunning Fisher Building fresco.

Hand-painted in just two months by Maróti and five immigrant painters, the stunning fresco stretches across the entire arcade and recently underwent a $500,000 restoration. A flora and fauna theme dominates with pearly white, redheaded cherubs frolicking among evergreen and hemlock needles.

Maróti’s work was rooted in Hungarian tradition but modern for America in 1928. The homage created by Wedge and her cohorts would be considered revolutionary if unveiled in the same era. “When we came together, one of the main things we discussed was the figures in the fresco being some of the most important overall,” says Wedge. “Instead of it being another white woman, we wanted to represent a whole community that isn’t represented in the building at all.”

Wedge updated the flora and fauna theme to represent the wildlife of Detroit’s neighborhoods today—a pheasant, a squirrel and a pit bull round out the design.

The project was funded by The Platform, the current owners of the Fisher Building. While they declined to disclose the cost of the installation, it’s part of a $100-million restoration and investment into the property with the goal of creating a hub for culture, arts and music that attracts new tenants. Next up for the Fisher Building is a full-blown, festival-sized production of homegrown indie darlings Flint Eastwood’s record release show on April 14.

Read on the Vice

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You’ve never seen the Fisher Building like this

When we heard that the Fisher Building arcade would be activated more often as the restoration of the art deco building continues, we never thought we’d see this.

From April 3-6, a halfpipe is set up in the lobby of the Fisher Building. It’s an incredible sight, and open to the public to watch from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. each evening. The event also includes live music and food. You should see this.

The halfpipe was built by Ramped Construction and the design was painted by local artists Hillary Butterworth, Miranda Wedge, and Brian Oscar. Their instagram posts, linked in their names, show their progress as they painted the halfpipe. The colors and designs were clearly inspired by the frescoes in the Fisher Building.

Read on the Curbed

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Watch skateboarders inside one of Detroit’s most opulent Art Deco buildings

The brainchild of global brand strategist Everard Findlay, the project seeks to create common ground inside one of the city’s most illustrious buildings. “I envisioned putting a halfpipe in the Fisher Building to celebrate community cohesion in the city of Detroit,” Findlay tells Lonely Planet. “Skating—a sport which embodies diversity in every way, has the unique ability to draw together radically different people.”

Read on the Lonely Planet

Tuesday, November 8, 2016: Visitors to the Detroit Institute of Arts in the museum's Rivera Court, featuring The Detroit Industry Murals by artist Diego Rivera, painted in the 1930's.  Assignment ID: 30197528A  Photo by Kevin J. Miyazaki/Redux                              NYTCREDIT: Kevin Miyazaki for The New York Times

Detroit ranked 9th in global destinations

Detroit’s revitalization, after its 2013 bankruptcy filing, has long been building. In 2015, it was named a Unesco City of Design. But 2017 may be the year promise becomes reality. The new QLine streetcar is expected to open in April, connecting the central Woodward Avenue corridor some 3.3 miles between downtown and the revived New Center area. It passes through Midtown, home to the Detroit Institute of Arts, and the entertainment-focused District Detroit, where a stadium opening this fall will be shared by the Detroit Red Wings and, in a return from the suburbs, the Detroit Pistons.

Work underway on $100 million Fisher, Albert Kahn building projects

A $100 million effort to restore the Fisher Building and redevelop the nearby Albert Kahn Building in Detroit is underway.

The buildings, which were purchased last year at auction for $12.2 million along with a pair of parking decks with more than 2,000 parking spaces, are among the largest redevelopment efforts in the greater downtown core in the works.

Plans call for turning the Albert Kahn Building, which is only about 20 percent occupied, into 162 apartments on the third through 11th floors, keeping office space on the second floor and using the first floor and concourse area as retail space, said Dietrich Knoer, principal of Detroit-based The Platform LLC along with developer Peter Cummings, one of the owners of the buildings.

Construction is expected to begin on the Albert Kahn Building in the third or fourth quarter next year and take 15-18 months to complete, Knoer said.

The other owners are New York City-based HFZ Capital Partners and New York City-based Rheal Capital Management, which is owned by Detroit native John Rhea. Southfield-based Redico LLC was part of the four-headed investment group that purchased the buildings last summer but it sold off its ownership interest.

Perhaps the largest challenge, though, is the restoration of the Fisher Building, one of the city’s architectural masterpieces that is just about 60 percent occupied. The Fisher has 635,000 square feet, while the Albert Kahn has 290,000.

Exterior work on the building’s marble, plus work on interior painting and fresco restoration in the building’s arcade, began this fall, according to a news release.

“It is more than just a beautiful building or a landmark; it is a beacon in the heart of Detroit for all of Detroit. It is the beacon of our city, both of its past and its future,” Cummings said in the release.

“We cannot revitalize New Center without reanimating and revitalizing the Fisher Building,” Knoer said in a Tuesday morning interview. “We are looking at a variety of uses. The building already has retail, entertainment with the Fisher Theater, parking, office.”

Knoer said the projects are expected to be financed using a mix of debt, equity and federal historic tax credits.

“Peter and Dietrich are the right people with the right vision for those particular properties,” said Richard Broder, principal of the Birmingham-based development company Broder & Sachse Real Estate Services Inc. “Not only do they know what they are doing, period, but they also know what they are doing with these landmark buildings, architecturally and geographically. I think they are the right guys. Is New Center the up and comer? For sure it is. It is in the path. There is no question about it. Do I think 160 more units in the marketplace will work? I do. I think we need a lot more than that.”

The Royal Oak office of JLL (formerly Jones Lang LaSalle) is responsible for leasing the Fisher Building office space to tenants. Bloomfield Hills-based CC Consulting is handling the retail leasing.

Separately, The Platform has about $250 million in mixed-use projects in the works that the company says will bring about 1,000 apartments and 100,000 to 150,000 square feet of retail space to the market in Midtown, New Center and around TechTown.

The projects include the 231-unit Third and Grand, a $53 million project under construction next to the Fisher Building, and Baltimore Station, a $40 million plan to put 160-170 apartments at Woodward Avenue and Baltimore Street.

There is also the planned redevelopment of an Albert Kahn-designed building at Cass Avenue and York Street that used to be a Cadillac sales and service building and house Wayne State University criminal justice classes. About 80 residential units and other uses are planned for the 147,500-square-foot building.

The Platform has also been investing in northwest Detroit, the Islandview area near Belle Isle and near the University of Detroit Mercy.

‘Maker City’ spotlights change agents in Fisher lobby

Big things are coming to the Fisher Building’s three-story, marble arcade — long sadly underutilized, but about to pop with new life.

The Fisher Beacon Project, as the building’s new owners call it, will mount an ongoing series of exhibitions, performances and lectures to make the 1929 masterpiece into a must-visit destination, with programming designed to connect the building to the wider neighborhoods that surround it.

“The Beacon Project will be a series of events celebrating the people, history and culture of Detroit,” said Peter Cummings, the real-estate developer who’s one of the principals behind The Platform, the company in charge of the Fisher’s restoration and programming.

The first step, launching Friday, will be a colorful exhibition called “Maker City.”

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This will involve large, illuminated portraits and short profiles of 28 of Detroit’s “Makers and ChangeMakers” who undergird the city’s revived national reputation as a creative hub.

“Maker City” takes a broad view of the concept, including not only artists such as sculptor Robert Sestok or metalworkers Gabriel Craig and Amy Weiks, but also those working in social change, like Veronika Scott, founder of The Empowerment Plan, or Pastor Barry Randolph at the Church of the Messiah.

Said Cummings, “We see this as an opportunity to shift the narrative of Detroit’s recovery to the story of the neighborhoods, championing an inclusive vision for the city’s revival.”

One of the makers in the glass display cases will be Olayami Dabls, artist and founder of the Dabls MBAD African Bead Museum on Grand River.

Dabls said he thinks linking makers to an Albert Kahn building that epitomizes high craft is brilliant pairing.

“Anytime you’re trying to hold onto the craftsmanship from the past, that’s always a great idea,” he said. “And the best thing they could do is illuminate those displays and windows.”

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Lit-up glass cases are just one part. The new owners also are tackling tons of deferred maintenance, buffing and restoring all the bronze, wood and frescos that won the Fisher the accolade “Detroit’s largest art object.”

This being 2016, naturally there’s a cool interactive element, which you can access by downloading the “MKR City” app at the App Store or Google Play. That will put you in touch with makers and change agents in Detroit and nationwide.

At the Lothrop Street end of the lobby, three vitrines will be animated by LED screens with rotating interviews with the various makers across the city.

Even better, the app will let you take a selfie shot at one of the vitrines which, once uploaded, will pop your picture onto an LED screens alongside the makers.

“This is just the first of many Beacon projects,” promised Dietrich Knoer, who’s partners with Cummings at The Platform.

“There’s something happening in Detroit,” Cummings added. “The city’s almost becoming a laboratory for urban solutions. And that’s how the larger universe is starting to look at it. We want the Beacon Project to be a part of that and to help address it.”

mhodges@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-6021

Twitter: @mhodgesartguy

Everard Findlay