Surrounded by newly-planted redbuds, sycamore, and evergreens, a new Quonset hut development has been completed in Core City. We recently visited Caterpillar with developer Philip Kafka of Prince Concepts to see the 9,000-square-foot structure.

Instead of the individual Quonset huts of nearby True North, Caterpillar has one long hut divided in to eight units. The fully-leased development has six residences and two larger work/live spaces; units range between 750-1,300 square feet. A pathway with terrazzo squares repurposed from the nearby 5K building lead up to each door. A deck surrounds the metal structure, giving residents a front and back porch. The two larger units on the end face Fisheye Farms. 

45 redbuds and many more trees were planted around the development.Photos by Chris Miele

Inside, 23-foot ceilings give the interior an openness; between 12-18 windows (depending on unit size) bring light in. A kitchen/closet/bathroom structure sits in the middle of each unit, separating the the living and bedroom spaces. The interior is conducive to a sparse/minimalist aesthetic.

Units have a kitchen/closet/bathroom structure in the middle. Photos by Chris Miele

Each unit has 12-18 windows.Photos by Chris Miele

“Designing around a single prefabricated Quonset hut allowed funds to be reallocated to thoughtful interior spaces and a generous public green space," says Kafka. "Where many apartment structures prioritize a large numberof units with a small sprinkling of trees, Caterpillar has invested in an urban woodland that the neighborhood will enjoy for generations to come.”

The work Prince Concepts is doing around Core City is the antithesis to the typical apartments buildings going up around Detroit and other cities. Caterpillar was inspired by the Pompidou in Paris and the idea of a "UFO crash landing in a forest." It was designed by Ish Rafiuddin of Undecorated. The architect of record is Studio Detroit and landscaping was designed by Julie Bargmann of D.I.R.T. Studio.

True North was the first development from Prince Concepts in the Core City neighborhood. They've also redone buildings across Grand River Avenue and Warren. The latest, 5K, was intended to be residential and office space, but Bloomscape has made it their headquarters.

Next is the renovation of the Power Plant building in the back of the park/courtyard along Grand River. According to Kafka, they'll add a second story to the annex which will be the offices for Gunner/Hobbes. A retail market will be housed on the ground floor. In the next few years, a new, larger development with 30 apartments will rise behind and across from Caterpillar.