Meet the Residents: Josh Lipnik

Josh Lipnik graduated from the University of Michigan in 2013 with a degree in Architecture. Josh is a PS01 resident, and is currently working on the 1417 Van Dyke project team. (Interview by Austin Kronig)

After you graduated from the University of Michigan, what were you considering doing before you caught wind of Practice·Space?

I looked into applying to some architecture firms and some intern positions, shortly after that I learned about Practice·Space, which made for good timing.

What drew you to Practice·Space? What was the motivation?

It just seemed like a great opportunity to work directly on projects with business owners, get the hands on experience of working on an architecture project that you wouldn't necessarily have access to working with a (traditional) architecture firm.

How has your experience in Practice·Space been thus far? What have you enjoyed most? 

As an architect, Detroit presents a lot of challenges that you wouldn't expect or normally encounter. Because of that, Practice·Space teaches you to be flexible in solving problems creatively. I think that's been the most exciting part of working on these projects.

In PS01, you had the opportunity to work on the North End Store-House, now 1417 Van Dyke in PS02. How do the the two projects compare?

There are a lot of similarities between the two projects because they're both development projects, taking the building as the starting point rather than the business. There has been a lot of opportunities to guide the way the project is going and figuring out what is best for the particular situation and context.

With the 1417 project, what aspects are you working on right now?

We're putting together a RFP packet for a contest to find a retail tenant, and we're creating the document which we will send out to contestants. Part of that is documenting the building, analyzing the building, and producing drawings that entrepreneurs can use to determine if space is right for them.

Doing a lot of building documentation?

Yeah, a lot of building documentation, drawing floor plans, diagrams, analyzing the site through mapping and site plans—fairly standard material but we're given a a lot of leeway as far as how we are presenting material and that's where you get to be creative.

Outside the of Practice·Space Residency program, how else are you keeping busy?

I've been involved with Architecture for Humanity starting up the Detroit chapter. Right now, we're looking for a group of projects to start in the Spring, trying to make this Spring the real debut of the organization as the legitimate place for people who need help with architectural services but can't afford them.

I'm also working on a few small projects of my own—a clothing retail store and a couple small projects doing drafting for local architects who need help.

What's your experience been like working in Detroit?

I grew up just outside the city. There's always been a mystique about the city. I've always been drawn to urban environments and always had a strong interest in Detroit, as an architect looking into the city and also as someone with roots in this area. I think Detroit is a great city and it's to really exciting to see what's happening here. 

find more of Josh's work at http://www.josh-lipnik.squarespace.com