Douglas Sharpe

Douglas Sharpe

Tampa, FL, US


Detroit Motor School

The objective of the studio is to choose a school building in the Detroit metro area that has been closed, and we are asked to introduce an architectural solution to transform this school into an economically self-sustaining trade school. My response is to develop a school that provides a high school education while specializing in automotive training, which includes general car maintenance, collision repair, car restoration, concept car design & build, custom painting, eco-car development, among many others. The school’s primary funding source is the profits gained by the automotive services that the school provides to the public.


The primary focus for the design of the school is to provide the ability for cars to be driven and stored inside of the building. The concept to surround students with cars while in school, creates an environment that students find exciting, where they will want to attend and not miss a single day of learning. The existing building did not provide enough clearance and space for cars, and the decision has been made that the existing school’s brick facade would be retained while a new hermetically sealed enclosure would be created as an augmentation to the existing building. Concept diagrams provide a visual reference for the functions that need to be achieved - cars must enter the building, the students should be able to display their work back to the public, and the building needs to accomodate the gamut of proposed automotive programs.

The plans indicate the circulation paths of users (orange) and the circulation of cars (red). The car paths allow vehicles to be able to reach all classrooms or workshops where students either learn about or work on the cars with instructors. As seen on the sub-grade plan, there is a test track located on site where students are able to test that their work has been performed successfully, whether that is after repairing a car or testing a new concept car that the students created from scratch. In the renderings, the color of the cars indicate their functionality, where the red cars are static - either on display in show rooms, or being stored for future use by the school - and the yellow cars indicate those cars are in motion within the interior.

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Status: School Project
Location: Detroit, MI, US