Detroit Heart of Darkness
Urban Architect, Professor, Berkeley's Big-Project Contact
Eloquent, thoughtful, intense – William Dayland has earned his position as one of America’s great contemporary architects. When he walks into a room, people can’t help but glance, if only for a moment. He knows how to capture the attention of business partners and lovers with equal ease, and when he flashes a grin, well then even the coldest hearts can’t help but open up.
William founded Motor City Werke in 2000 as a multi-disciplinary architecture and design firm around an evolving philosophy. The name comes from two parts; the word “city” and associative extensions from “urban“– having to do with the urban condition, city centers and downtown regeneration. The other is “werke” from the German “werkes."
This is a nod to the modern industrial aesthetic of the Bauhaus period, the art of “making” and to the quest of excellence in detail and craft. The latter manifests itself in the pursuit of design, interiors and furniture design and fabrication.
William had worked for a variety of architectural firms in his 25 year professional career and has been involved with projects such as the Cobo Hall expansion, the new Museum of African-American History, the Hospice of Southeastern Michigan, the Compuware Headquarters and more recently on and the Greektown Casino permanent facility. The latter two projects were in a successful venture with Rossetti. The body of work also includes multiple retail stores and various projects for the Detroit Recreation Department. In 2010, William successfully completed the design and renovation of the west end of Belle Isle known as Sunset Pointe for the Belle Isle Women’s Committee.
William certainly made quite a few friends while working on the Sunset Point project. Many women of the committee still have occasional coffee, biscotti, and scintillating conversation with William. The turning point in his career began when he took on the design and construction of the Greektown Casino.
William’s interest in the rebuilding of cities is enriched by regular and ongoing travel in the States and abroad. Visiting other cities, different projects and various urban conditions has allowed William to see and critique many design solutions. Having traveled to over 42 cities in 14 countries, William brings all of this experience to bear on architectural and planning design problems.
Further evidence of William’s commitment to the city was the location of UrbanWerks, LLC’s office in Detroit to have close proximity to city offices and be part of the pulse and life of Detroit. In the spirit of collaboration, William was joined by the T. Baude Design Associate’s team in a collaboration called THRESHdesign to explore the unique design challenge of designing a lifestyle residence and community. The result of this 3 year effort is the “Territoire,” a compact very energy efficient home, incorporating new technology and a desire to enhance the quality of life for its residents. Additional work involves urban planning, interior design and social innovation. Still in the planning and vision stages, THRESHdesign has been trying to buy property on Zug Island to begin its vision for a new urban community.