Detroit Foundation Hotel

Detroit, MI

Aparium Hotel Group

  • Interior Design, Branded Environments
  • Hospitality
  • Hotel, Boutique, Restaurant & Bar, Adaptive Reuse
  • Complete

Reimagining the former Detroit Fire Department Headquarters, which is on the national register of historic buildings, as a boutique hotel was more than an adaptive reuse, historic preservation project, it was an opportunity for KTGY to revitalize Detroit through true collaboration with the developer, architect and local artisans.

With the design theme focused on “coming home to Detroit,” the hotel conveys the essence of the Motor City, by building a place very much of Detroit, of its citizens, and of its spirit. Through concept, planning, interior design and branding, we sought to inspire Detroit with a beacon representing the largest urban renaissance in American history. Our solution is infused with elements of municipal design from Detroit’s golden age, inspired by found documents and pieces left over from when the building served as the fire department headquarters. A custom typeface was inspired by the firefighters of Detroit, and the brand color was directly sampled from automotive paint used on the fire engines themselves.

Entering the five-story Neoclassical building through a massive, terra cottafaced portal, guests are transported into a voluminous story-and-a-half space that once housed fire engines. Here, everything is communal and easily navigated – from the check-in experience to the lobby and the restaurant. A vintage credenza serves as a welcoming front desk. Existing glazed brick tiles celebrate the building’s history while new finishes and lighting add modernity. An open-display kitchen and antique brass metal rail system reminiscent of a fireman’s pole highlights the strong architecture of the space as it runs through the restaurant. A monumental custom chandelier containing 359 warm, exposed-element LED lamps and 110 pieces of hand-blown glass encircles the central bar and serves as both a lighting source and an art installation. Positioned intentionally in the direct sightline of guests is a second eye-catching chandelier – this one resembling an abstract smoke-inspired structure. Guestrooms feature salvaged trim and moldings as a wall art installation. Fordite is artistically re-interpreted as a headboard inlay, while graphically manipulated photographs of Detroit landmarks grace the room as a wallcovering. A color palette of deep chocolates and metallic pastel is punctuated with pinks and blues reminiscent of 1960 automobile paint colors, adding an unexpected hue to the clean and modern guestrooms within the Detroit Foundation Hotel.

Property Facts


Building Area (sq. ft.)


Number of Guest Rooms (keys)

Detroit, MI


Gina Deary Principal
  • Branded Environments
  • Interior Design
  • Chicago IL


Aparium Hotel Group




McIntosh Poris Associates


Alex Porbe, Incite Design


Kim Harty, Chairperson, College of Creative Studies


Joe Vaughn


Nathan Kirkman


Sal Rodriguez
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