Do you ever have an enormous, looming project in front of you, the kind you can’t even believe you dreamed up, much less have plunged into? At moments, that’s what it’s felt like to be shepherding forward 826michigan’s plan to open our Detroit center. The plan was big. The plan was complex. And we’ve never done this before. Enter Noah Resnick, Associate Professor of Architecture at University of Detroit Mercy, partner at Laavu Studio, and lead architect on all things Detroit Robot Factory.
In March 2011, Noah approached 826michigan with a much-needed offer to rework our Ann Arbor writing and tutoring lab. Our budget was minuscule, and our hopes were high. Noah pulled off a true miracle, using IKEA-purchased light fixtures and shelving, some donated electrical services, and a few smart ideas about furniture rearrangement to give our writing and tutoring lab the boost it needed. He taught us ways to separate large spaces and challenged us to think differently about how we use the space and the furniture we have.
A longtime Detroiter, Noah was very excited to sign on to our project to open a new 826michigan center in the city. The process was long, and Noah was behind us every step of the way: early conversations about what the space would need, a major planning session with the Van Dusen Urban Leadership Forum which guided us to the Eastern Market neighborhood, building walk throughs to help us decide if 1351 Winder St was right for us. Once we decided, Noah took on the monumental task of helping us turn a vacant produce warehouse into 826michigan’s Detroit home. It was hard then to imagine, much less plan. Noah’s years of experience volunteering with us helped him—with support from his partner at Laavu, Kaija Wuollet and from our friends at Gensler Detroit—develop a space that includes all the things we know we need.
Whenever we need him, Noah—smartly dressed and warmly smiling– seems to magically make himself available. He’s at the ready all the time with a thoughtful idea, a technical detail, a connection to someone else who can help. And unlike us, he has dozens of architecture projects to his name. Throughout the process, he’s been an invaluable resource, an important advocate, and a steady friend to 826michigan. We quite certainly could not have opened the Detroit Robot Factory without Noah’s countless hours of help and professional guidance, and we are glad to know him!