Section and Elevation

Hudson Data Center

Undergraduate Thesis Project
This project awarded Merit Undergraduate Thesis Award

Instructor: Michael Young, Melissa Shin

There is an ever growing architectural demand to accommodate the storage and processing of data in an urban context. Rather than responding to the primary requirements for human occupation, this type of building is informed to a great extent by structural, mechanical, electrical, and security requirements for global computational information systems. This being said, the data centers are still urban artifacts that negotiate with the aesthetic of the cultural context into which they are inserted. This thesis explores an aesthetic negotiation between the post-human demands of structures for data processing centers and the urban context of Detroit.

Site Plan

Typical Plan

First Level Plan

Ground Level Plan

Technology Companies near the Site
Urban Graphics and Colors

The Hudson Data Center is situated along the two main street frontages of Woodward Avenue and Grand River Avenue in downtown Detroit near technology headquarters like Compuware, QStride, and Quicken Loans, providing the storage infrastructure that these headquarters require for their operation. Various deep colors, rough textures, and broken patterns constitute a reinterpretation and abstraction of the existing urban context of Detroit as a form of low-relief rustication.


Section A

The inner courtyard has abstract qualities in a plasticity of pink colors and soft dimpled textures that are illuminated from above by openings to the sky between suspended figural masses.

Program Diagram

Ventilation Diagram

Northwest Elevation

Section B

Neither the courtyard nor the exterior urban facade retain any traditional indication of the programs potentially housed within. It is impossible to imagine or expect what kind of life, if any, would exist inside this building. The exterior facade and the inner courtyard clearly engage with the culture of the city and its inhabitants through two different aesthetic atmospheres, each of which negotiates its own quality with the city Detroit.

One samples and abstracts the patterns of the city, which produces scrambled contextual allusions through recombination. On the contrary, the courtyard rejects all associations to the city outside and creates an area of aesthetic refuge through candy-colored, day  glow artificiality. Either articulation on its own is limited, but through a series of high slits in the building mass and its horizontal levitation along the sidewalk, the inner courtyard reveals hints of its contrast. From within the courtyard, these slits produce a re framing of the existing context as fragments of reality. The building thus becomes a technological object that produces new aesthetic experiences of the technological object we traditionally call “the city.”

Copyright © 2017. Hyunji Kim. All rights reserved.