8869 Avis

Architect:  Detroit Collaborative Design Center

Owner:  Inside Southwest Detroit

Location:  Detroit Michigan

Category Three: Community-Informed Design Award


An anchor for The Alley Project, an initiative that promotes youth and community development through cultural and place-based initiatives in Detroit, 8869 Avis has transformed a neighborhood alley and surrounding lots into a graffiti gallery that deepens connections between neighbors and community assets. This renovation of an existing 2,400-square-foot building into a community center and the headquarters for Inside Southwest Detroit reflects the vision of the community it serves through its planning, execution, and everyday use.

The project was fostered through a robust relationship between Inside Southwest Detroit, the design team, and a diverse group of stakeholders. From the outset, the process engaged neighbors of all ages, including kids, grandparents, graffiti artists, and skateboarders, resulting in a community space that responds to resident needs and local culture. A series of community workshops and celebrations boosted the stakeholders’ agency and provided a number of venues for them to guide the overall design.

8869 Avis delivers a flexible and authentic space highlighted by an enclosed “front porch” area adorned with ornamental geometric ironwork screens. The screens, fabricated by local metalworkers, echo fences found throughout the surrounding neighborhood and contribute equally to transparency and security. The building is wrapped with a mural designed by a late street artist and completed by an Inside Southwest Detroit program alumnus as a tribute.

Inside, wood-finish panels in bold colors and subtle patterns reference the exterior art and metalwork. Large metal doors lend flexibility to the space and pull double duty as functional writing surfaces for meeting notes or spur-of-the-moment artwork.

Additional information

General Contractor - Michigan Alterations                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Fabrication - Metalwork: Disenos Ornamental Ironwork

Fabrication - Mural: Jordan Vaughn, Freddy Diaz, Dave Bequette                                                                                

Engineer - MEP: MA Engineering

Engineer - Structural: Darvas Engineering    


Simon Ha, AIA, Chair, Principal at Steinberg Hart, Los Angeles, CA

Kai-Uwe Bergmann, AIA, Partner at Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), New York, NY

Hans Butzer, AIA, Director at Butzer Architects and Urbanism, Oklahoma City, OK

Mary Cerrone, AIA, Mary Cerrone Architects, Pittsburgh, PA

Regina Gray, Social Science Analyst at Housing and Urban Development, Washington, DC

Rachelle Levitt, Director of Research Utilization at Housing and Urban Development, Washington, DC

Image credits


Ceara O'Leary

Avis Interior

Erik Paul Howard


Erik Paul Howard


Erik Paul Howard


Erik Paul Howard