All photos by Lance Gerber
Detroit Skybridge by Phillip K. Smith III connects two of Detroit’s most iconic buildings, One Woodward and the Guardian Building. At the minute of sunset every evening the 100 foot long, 16th floor skybridge becomes a floating bar of light hovering over the streets of Downtown Detroit. Inspired by the modular white concrete of Yamasaki’s 1962 skyscraper and the mosaic of color within the 1929 Guardian Building, Smith has created a unique color program for this significantly scaled project. Composed of shifting gradients and moving planes of light, this precisely paced installation merges art with architecture at the scale of the city. The project was conceptualized and produced by Library Street Collective. Detroit Skybridge is supported by Bedrock Detroit, Quicken Loans Community Fund and Wayne County.
The pedestrian bridge was constructed in 1976 by architect Gino Rosetti to allow access for Michigan Consolidated Gas (Michcon) and the American Natural Resources Co. (ANR) to move freely, as employees from each company were spread across both the Guardian and the Yamasaki buildings until the late 1990s. It was at this time that ANR relocated, prompting decreased usage of the walkway and its resulting closure. Multiple proposals to repurpose the space have emerged since, yet none materialized until Detroit Skybridge. As an incomparable site-specific light installation, tenants of both structures and passersby alike have beengiven the chance to enjoy the beauty of its unique architecture, made extraordinary by the placid movement of choreographed light.
Smith sites the elemental root of his work as change — such as shifting color variations, the movement from translucence to opacity -- which implies a sense of life, or breath, and is offered in abundance as the driving force behind Detroit Skybridge.