Project Description

The David Whitney Building was built in 1915 and was located at 1553 Woodward Avenue, at the corner of Park Avenue, in downtown Detroit’s Grand Circus Park.  The David Whitney Building was designed in Neo-Renaissance style by the renowned architectural firm Daniel H. Burnham & Co.  The David Whitney Building was a nineteen-story structure, with the first floors being high-end retail space, and the rest of the fifteen floors being office space.  The David Whitney Building’s exterior was styled with clean lines in a Neo-Renaissance style faced with terra cotta and glazed brick.  The original façade was altered in 1959, when decorative cornices were replaced with a more “modern” top.  The David Whitney Building’s interior featured a beautiful, skylight-covered, four-story atrium lobby that made it one of Detroit’s most extravagant structures.  The David Whitney Building was named after Detroit lumber baron and shipping magnate, David Whitney.

The David Whitney Building was one of Detroit’s beautiful buildings ad that was part of the reason that it stayed at 90% capacity throughout the early years.  When Detroit’s population plunged after the 1967 riots, naturally so did the cities businesses.  Unfortunately, the David Whitney Building was not exempt.  By the 1980’s, the David Whitney Building’s tenants had left and the building was at about 40% capacity.  By the 1990’s, that number dropped to 20% capacity.  It became obvious that it was a matter of time before the David Whitney Building had lost all it’s tenant.

The David Whitney Building couldn’t rebound and was closed in 2000.  The David Whitney Building sat abandoned for a number of years and thankfully had only suffered minor damages over the years.  Scrappers had managed to get into the building and steal some of the building’s copper piping and other fixtures, but the damage was few and far between.  For the most part, the City of Detroit had managed to keep the building secure for almost fifteen years.

In 2014, the David Whitney Building underwent a $93 million renovation that restored the Whitney’s original, classically inspired exterior and interior.  The David Whitney Building’s Aloft Hotel opened in December 2014.  The hotel features 136 rooms. The rest of the skyscraper was turned into 105 apartments, which are currently available to rent.