Collective Knowledge

Generations unite to rebuild Detroit and the suburbs.

While rising productivity and collaborative business practices have curtailed new office development, there is a boon for companies that can offer a menu of services. As a result, architectural firms that rely solely on design to generate profits are largely a thing of the past.

Take IBG Detroit, which has an unusual office location — tucked inside Music Hall in downtown Detroit — and an even more unusual list of clients and services. The two-year-old firm recently joined forces with Dennis King, longtime chairman and CEO of Harley Ellis Devereaux, a large architectural and engineering firm in Southfield, who stepped down in 2010 and left the firm in 2013.

After launching DMKING Consulting LLC in Farmington Hills, King started working with Brian Mooney and John Biggar, principals of IBG Detroit, which includes Integrity Business Group, a construction management and design firm, and StudiozONE, a full-service architectural firm.

“When Dennis left Harley Ellis, we reached out to him to see if we could assist him with his projects, as well as to see if we could benefit from our collective networks,” says Biggar, architectural principal at IBG Detroit. “We have so many different projects, and to have access to Dennis’ knowledge base is a great opportunity.”

From renovating historic homes in the suburbs to blowing out a wall to installing a new kiln at Pewabic Pottery in Detroit, the firm has its hands full. Other projects include the renovation of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) Building for Mindfield, a digital creative studio that produces film, video, animation, and interactive media. The GAR Building — at Grand River Avenue and Cass, and designed after a castle — is expected to open in 2014.

“We can take on an entire renovation project, whether it’s historical or not, and manage everything, or we can offer certain services and bring in another firm that offers a certain service that we don’t offer,” Mooney says.

With King in the mix, the trio is working on one of the largest redevelopment efforts in downtown Detroit: the transformation of Paradise Valley (formerly Harmonie Park), just south of Music Hall, into a vibrant enclave of offices, residential spaces, and entertainment venues. The series of historic buildings that border the triangular park have gone through various redevelopment efforts in the past.

“Now we’re working on four of the buildings, and you’ll see Paradise Valley really come alive over the next two years,” King says. “The city has been very supportive of the area, and they have helped activate the streets with music and public events. Now you’ll see things go to the next level.” db