Plans were recently unveiled for a $221 million facelift for Cobo Hall.

Cobo Hall hasn’t been renovated since the late 1980’s since it was constructed in 1960.  This marks the first major renovation since a regional authority took over control from the City of Detroit in 2009.

Construction work will begin in July 2011 and be completed in time for the January 2014 Autoshow.

Four architectural firms were involved in designing the updated look.  Three of them are from Metro Detroit: Albert Kahn Associates, SDG Assocates, and Rosetti along with TVSdesign from Atlanta.

Modest Exhibit Space

Many have criticized the hall for its lack of exhibit space and past plans have included significantly expanding its 700,000 SF to 1 million square feet.

This plan only adds about 125,000 SF of exhibit space by creating additional building area and reconfiguring the existing footprint to provide the additional exhibit space.

Will it be enough?

Other Updates

Cobo Area will be renovated into a 40,000 SF ballroom and a new 3-story atrium will run the length of Cobo Hall along the Detroit River.

The east elevation, facing downtown, will feature a computer-generated “media-mesh” billboard to highlight upcoming and current events.

Internally, a new vehicle lift will help move vehicles to the 2nd floor of the exhibit space.

Opening Up (Finally)

In striking contrast to the current building, this facelift finally allows Cobo Hall to relate to and embrace the surrounding city continuing the trend started by the GM Renaissance Center.

This facelift embraces the riverfront, converts Cobo Arena into a glass jewel, and transforms the east elevation into a dynamic, transparent screen.

While it looks like the iconic cubes have been minimized, the current design still reflects some of the earlier modern architecture.

The Future?

This facelift will certainly be another piece in the long road to Detroit’s comeback.  Does the Regional Authority have a master plan for future expansion?  Joe Louis Arena has been rumored as moving closer the stadium district (Foxtown) and the site would provide ample expansion space once vacated.

What do you think?

Do you like the facelift?  Is it enough or just enough for the near term?

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