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Diverse work portfolio leads to rosy outlook for Archive DS, Pure Detroit

The housing crisis has hit a number of industries hard, ranging from commercial lenders to construction workers. Architecture firms have also been at the top of that list as building projects have dried up, so has work for architects and building design professionals. Not Archive DS.

The downtown Detroit-based architecture firm and its family of companies have held their own since the Great Recession emerged a few years ago thanks largely to a diverse work portfolio that goes well beyond designing new homes.

The group of four partners behind Archive DS also run a number of other small businesses, such as Pure Detroit, Stella International Cafe in the Fisher and Guardian buildings, Cafe Rowland in the Guardian Building, Vera Jane apparel for women in the Fisher Building and graphic design firm Refuel Media. Mark Nickita, one of those four partners, is bullish about the retail portion of his businesses thanks to the growing downtown workforce at Quicken Loans and other tech firms.

"We see some spillover from that," Nickita says. "There are a couple thousand people coming there, and I assume they are into coffee and cool Detroit stuff."

The Archive DS family of companies employs between 20-30 people, depending on the size of the projects any of the firms is working on at any one time. For Archive DS, that means less actual architecture and more urban design. It is working on non-motorized master plans and other similar work for the likes of Royal Oak and Lapeer,

That doesn't mean Nickita and his co-workers don't see a viable near future for urban architecture. They see a growing demand for housing in the greater downtown area but few new projects to fill that demand. That's a situation that can't last forever.

"There is a lot of demand for projects," Nickita says. "There is a lot of demand for housing. You have to be on a waiting list for downtown lofts."

Source: Mark Nickita, partner with Archive DS
Writer: Jon Zemke
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  • Archive DS
    500 Griswold
    36th Floor
    Detroit, MI 48226 Website
    Archive Design Studio is a team of architects and urbanists who are specialists in re-establishing downtowns, urban districts, neighborhoods, corridors, underutilized buildings and vacant sites. It is a Detroit-based company.