Fort Washington Plaza

Fort Washington Plaza
  1. About the Fort Washington Plaza in Detroit
  2. Architect and team
  3. Architectural style
  4. Spaces and uses
  5. Structure and materials

The Fort Washington Plaza is an International Style skyscraper designed by Louis G. Redstone & Associates and built in 1969 in Detroit, MI.

Its precise street address is 333 West Fort Street, Detroit, MI. You can also find it on the map here.

The building consist of a lower podium that takes up the entire block and houses some retails space on the ground floor and the parking on the rest of the floors, and the tower, which footprint is only half the size.

The building underwent a major restoration in 2006.

Building's timeline

Construction completed
years ago
  1. 2006 - Renovation of the lobby, elevators and parking.

Architect and team

Louis G. Redstone & Associates was the architecture firm in charge of the architectural design.

Architectural Style

The Fort Washington Plaza can be categorized as an International Style building.

The international style originated in Europe in the early 20th century, and made its way to the US a couple of decades later when the rise of the Nazi regime forced figures such as Walter Gropius, Marcel Breuer, or Mies van der Rohe to flee Europe.

The International Style emerged as a response to the prevailing historicism and ornate architecture styles of the late 19th century, which according to a younger generation of architects didn't represent the new materials and construction techniques that were on the rise at the time.

Architecture in the early 20th century US was marked by the adoption of steel structures, modern construction techniques, and the rise of the skyscraper. As it turns out, this combination of circumstances created the perfect ecosystem for the International Style to flourish, becoming the to-go style for skyscraper designs during the mid-20th century, when American cities were growing fast.

The International Style’s legacy can not only be found in numerous iconic buildings across all major American cities, but also incorporated in contemporary architecture, which still puts a big emphasis on functionality and minimalism.

The Fort Washington Plaza was completed in 1969. By 1969 the International Style movement had already left its early days behind and could be considered a mature movement, which does not mean it was loved and accepted by everyone, on the contrary. The International Style was accepted by the architecture community way before it was by the general public, and it is therefore likely that the Fort Washington Plaza was not well received by everyone at the time.

Spaces & Uses

The Fort Washington Plaza reaches an architectural height of 197ft (60m). It has a total of 16 floors.

In regards to parking space, the building has a total of 524 spots available, which roughly equals 33 spots per floor (above ground).

Ever since opening its doors to the public in 1969, the Fort Washington Plaza has mainly been used as Commercial space, with other complementary uses such as parking space.

197ft (60m)

Materials & Structure

The Fort Washington Plaza uses a frame structure made of concrete columns and beams.

A frame structure uses a combination of beams and columns to sustain the building's weight. The walls in this case are non-load bearing, which allows for more flexibility when distributing the interior spaces.

The facade of the building however, is load bearing. This doesn't imply that it is a traditional load-bearing wall. Rather, it means that the structure's exterior pillars have been pushed to the very edges, becoming integrated with the facade, and therefore, technically, a part of it.

From an aesthetic point of view, the facade features a bronze-tinted curtain wall that runs uninterrupted on the North and South facades of the tower, and is organized in 5 bays of 5 windows each on the East and West facades. These facades are created by 6 structural pillars, clad in brown marble, which have been integrated into the facade.

Some of the glass of the curtain wall has a lighter tint, creating a grid pattern that gives the facades, particularly the North and South, some more texture and a sense of scale to the building.

The lower podium, containing the parking, features a striped facade that allows for ventilation.