The Corktown Experience is a project we did for the owner of a historic Detroit Corktown home. The project was the final for the class: Environmental Graphic Design Studio 2 at Lawrence Technological University.
The owner of the building wanted to utilize the building as a historic site while conducting a business. The challanges were many, but the biggest obsticles were lack of space and unclear direction of what business to start in a location like this!

After talking with Tim and Karen the way I saw this project is that there are 4 different elements that needed to be addressed: Business Development, Brand, Design (Exterior and interior).
To address each one of these requests many factors and possibilities had to be considered to come up with the best suitable ideas for the site.

Before starting any new business, it is essential to study the area, conduct a SWAT analysis, and analyze the current assets and major trends. The first step was to draw a map and identify parks, major roads, assets and food outlets within half and one mile radius from the location.
I drew out all building figure grounds in the area, identified our location and began to get a good feel of the surrounding and all the assets and transportation means.
Parks provide public assets that increase the chances of visitors and traffic. By knowing the number of parks nearby we get an idea for the spaces that have public gatherings and events.
Access to major roads, freeways and highways shows that the location is in a strategic location with very close proximity to many major transportation routes, which translates to visitors from outside the city being able to easily find their way to the location.
From an urban design perspective, proximity to major community assets plays a major role in tying in all the elements of a community together, in our case this will also help us understand how we can use our proximity to major Detroit assets as a selling point to attract potential customers.
Looking at the map, we can see that there are a couple major assets within a half-mile radius (walking distance) like the old Tiger’s stadium (Navin Field) and Motor City Casino. Looking at the one-mile radius, we get a glimpse at a lot more assets, especially the downtown area, River Walk and Michigan Central Train Station (Michigan Central Depot).
Like the major assets, the food assets paint a good picture for
Corktown has been known in the city for its bicycle designated lanes and bike safe routes. The bike culture has been growing even more lately with bike events like Slow Roll Detroit and Detroit Critical Mass, which brings in hundreds of cyclist to the city to enjoy a bike ride; this creates a great opportunity as a business seeing the amount of people these events attract.
Bringing all the maps together the location of The Corktown Experience could not be any better from a proximity standpoint; many opportunities include proximity to the river walk, major restaurants, sports arenas and downtown.
Other possibilities may include bike rentals and tour guides, all within the scope of the business development and part of the programs offered at The Corktown Experience.
To get a better understanding of the number of visitors to the city, I compiled a list of events and the number of days they are held in the city, these days can be considered peak visitor days.
I researched Sport and Social events, some social events were not included due to the short amount of time I had to conduct this type of research, so I collected a handful of events for this study, the results are as follow:
Events: Sports
Events: Social
Total Events
Looking at the maps, the number of events and the resources, I have concluded that the best direction to take with the buildings would be to create a historic hub that also serves as a center for education and information for residents of the city and visitors as well.
Going along the premise of The Corktown Experience being a hub, a center, a community conscious place gave me a good direction to what I thought would fit the brand identity and logo.
I started of creating central/focused logos while playing with typography to compliment the design, many iterations of the design process focused on the hub/central properties of The Corktown Express as seen below, the common theme always came back to The organization’s initials “CE” and working them into the design of the logo.
After many renditions and exploring different ideas I came up with the final logo shown below, the circular rings give the notion of community, central, enclosure and target destination, the rings are cut at particular areas to reveal the “CE” initials abbreviating Corktown Experience. Also added is the typed name in a classical early 20th century font that ties in with the same era the building was built at.
The major color for the organization was selected based on color psychology, the color orange gives the impression of energy, fun, confidence, playfulness, friendly and cheerful, all traits that sound familiar for this type of businesses.
The complimentary color is green for the corktown Irish background, unlike the common bright green used for Irish themes; the green I chose was more subtle and complimentary to the flat orange chosen as the brand’s primary color.
The secondary colors are two different shades of grey that can be used in many text applications and shapes on documents.
Below are some iterations of the brand in common documents and other brand material.
The back of the building is very similar to the front in terms of design, but it has a large yard that plays to its advantage. To improve the backyard, I added the same items from the front of the building to the back, and then I added a large

Interior Design
During our visit to the site, it became immediately apparent that the building lacked the space necessary to hold more than 3 people comfortable in each room, so the first challenge was to figure out how to make the best of the space available.
It was brought to our attention that the building would be shared with Wayne State University and that a couple rooms bight be designated for their archeology department, so the left part of the building was sectioned out for them.

First Floor
I started off by removing the walls that make up the front two rooms and combine into one larger room, this creates a space large enough to host more than ten people, thus having the space to host events, have galleries and have presentations. The walls will be painted with colors that complement the brand identity, these colors are shown in the renderings bellow.

Second Floor
On the second floor, most walls are removed, creating a large space that can be utilized as a workshop in addition to a smaller space that can be used as a small classroom.
The left wing of the second floor will be also sectioned out to host Wayne State University, this way they would have enough space to conduct small operations.
As customers enter the building, they are faced with a large map of the mile radius around The Corktown Express; this map will be updated regularly with pins that show current events and highlighted sites to visit for the week/month.
This map can also be updated on the website and show more information.
As visitors progress, they will find a large space that can seat ten people for presentations or exhibits, the space can be used differently for any occasion.
A small welcome desk can be located next to the stairs so that it is not intrusive to visitors as soon as they enter the building, but gives visitors enough time and space to digest their surrounding before having to interact with a host.
The Back wall can be used for different exhibits, maps, presentations and more, there is plenty of space to work with.
As visitors go up the stairs to the second floor they enter the first space which is designated for workshops and larger classes.
This space makes up about 1/3 of The Corktown Experience floor space, it has the potential for many activities. A projector can be used to show presentations and class/workshop material on the wall on the left; while the front wall can be used as a display unit, wall storage, or any other item that might suit the workshop presented.
The secondary space is smaller than the workshop, but can still hold a class of 10 students. This space could be used for students of the workshop or as a meeting space.
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