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Editorial: Opened Doors and Shared Windows

Walking through the marble halls of the historic, Kahn-designed Fisher Building as you make your way into work is not something you ever stop appreciating completely, but it can be something you accidentally take for granted.

As the few months have passed since our move into Kahn’s new office space on the 18th and 19th floor, I’ve stopped marveling each morning at the painstaking detail of each fixture or the paintings you’ll see sprawling across grand archways. The hand-placed, stone murals that I used to stop to admire now get a short look as I quickly walk by, focused on the day ahead of me. There’s still a creative energy that comes from having art etched into every part of your office, but the pauses gave way to fast glances in an under appreciation that became clear to me during our open house last week. If you were one of the few thousand from the Detroit community that came out to Drinks X Design and fought your way through the crowds into our landmark office building, maybe you can identify with my take away on that evening. If you weren’t, I hope one day you can.

For the first time in our new headquarters, Kahn opened its doors to the public to be part of a free design celebration of the Fisher and all the creative entities within it. Unsure of what to expect or who would arrive, the whole team at Kahn was shocked by the enthusiasm and sheer mass of people that visited us last Thursday night. The VR station showcasing our work with NASA was in use the entire three hours; it was a 30 minute wait to ride the elevators to our floors; tours of our vault (lined with historic, 100+ year old drawings) were filled instantly; the DJ could be heard from 8 floors down and people were climbing the 18 flights of stairs just to get up.

DJ spins as crowds pour out of the elevator at Kahn's headquarters during Drinks X Design

As my coworkers and I trekked up those 18 flights after checking out the 4th floor’s turn out, it was hard not to notice how thrilled those who don’t spend every day in this gorgeous skyscraper were to be experiencing it. I sat down at my desk overlooking the city, green expanding to the horizon from all the trees that make Detroit the lush metropolis people don’t realize it is, and I instantly started receiving questions from so many fascinated community members. From history on the Fisher to asking about Detroit’s past, future and Kahn’s involvement in all of it. What I thought would be a smaller event and a few conversations turned into three hours of constant engagement with people who were excited to share my view of Second St. and hear of Kahn's recent work and past achievements.

View from my desk overlooking Second St, Detroit MI

This enthusiasm spread through every department. Each project we displayed throughout both floors was met with such intrigue and inquisition to Kahn staff members that I found myself coming home late that night inspired. With that, also, a fortified appreciation for the legacy being crafted by not just our firm, but by every creator, designer, entrepreneur, artist and dreamer whose passion helps put this city in a league of its own. Spending an evening viewing and talking with this design community in such a meaningful setting reaffirmed an undeniable truth that expands well beyond the Fisher Building while encompassing it completely: Detroit is a city of endless beauty and unmatched creative force.

It won’t surprise you that Friday morning I walked a little slower through the halls.

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