Envisioning the Space: A Conversation with Kyle Hoff

Kyle Hoff recently joined the Practice·Space team as the lead designer for the build out of our new space in collaboration with Justin Mast. This summer, we're converting Joe's Auto Garage—a 3,800 square foot building located in North Corktown—into a multi-purpose workspace. 

Kyle completed his masters in architecture at the University of Michigan, and last summer worked on a project in Spaulding Court with Justin (only a few blocks from the Garage). A few weeks ago, he left his job at an architecture firm in Chicago and moved up to Detroit. I sat down with Kyle to discuss his plans for the space and the underlying design philosophy behind the work. Below is a summary of our conversation. - Alex


pictured: Kyle Hoff outside the garage

Initial Impressions. When I joined onto the team, we had yet to secure a location. But I knew whatever the space, the aim would be to bring new life into an old building. When I first saw the garage, my first concern was lighting. However, this constraint actually lead to formulating some interesting ideas. We have to work with the existing light and focus on using materials that feel natural. We're defining the workspace in the back of the garage (the place with the least illumination) with poly-carbonate panels. The translucent materials will glow when it's lit, which will brighten up the space.


Pictured: Initial sketches for the build out.

The Materials. We'll likely work from three materials: plywood, steel, and the poly-carbon materials. This gives us an opportunity to hold a language between all the pieces we build, and allows someone in the space to instantly identify the old versus the new. There is already a lot going on in the garage, so I moved away from highly textured materials such as reclaimed lumber which would add to the busyness already established by the industrial nature of the garage. 


Pictured: Inside the garage before construction.  

The Timeline and Budget.  I don't feel overly concerned with the timeline, because we are currently working towards finalizing the design. Anything that needs to be fabricated, pre-cut will be ready to go before the build out. When we bring in the contractors, it ideally will take the form of an assembly process.  In a way we are approaching it as an installation rather than a heavy-handed addition. However, the budget is somewhat limiting, so we have to be selective with the choice of materials. We looked at the work of IwamotoScott for the method of constructing under a limited budget, and also because they've worked with a similar material palette in the past. It's useful to learn from other architects to improve on a method.


Pictured: An interior designed by IWAMOTOSCOTT.

An inspiration for the residents. We'll have access to the space August, 2013. Whatever happens, I hope the work will be an inspiration for people working in the Garage. If we can build out this space on this tight of a budget and timeline, it can be done elsewhere.  


Pictured: The old garage door on Joe's.