On its northern face, visible only to Amtrak passengers, large letters blaze, “Welcome to Ann Arbor, Go Blue.”
Few are indifferent to this futuristic office on stilts across from Wheeler Park in Ann Arbor. Its arresting white facade, startling angles, and unexpected curves might have come from the city’s future -- yet the nearby railroad trestle and rusting freight care are definitely from its past.
The building site was tricky. The shape was irregular, and it was in the floodplain and floodway, so the building had to be elevated above potential floodwaters.
The design treats the prominent stairwells as whimsical elements. The main stair is framed in theatrical geometric forms ... an inverse truncated cone, a horizontal convex curve. The back stair is a trapezoid.
The metal facade panels are part of a highly efficient “outsulation” system. On sunny days, horizontal shades add texture with delicate geometric shadows. At night, the building jaunty tilting spire glows with a dramatic blue LED stripe.