The Russell Industrial Center The Russell Industrial Center's history encapsulates the Detroit story that has gained the city such fervent attention in global creative circles. For 45 years after commissioning the factory in 1910, the Murray Auto Body Corporation was a major parts supplier to Ford Motors, giving the building a key role in Detroit's high-octane network of industrial production. The center's seven buildings housed 13,000 workers but turbulent economic changes after Murray's departure in 1960 left it empty by the late 1990s. An informal take-up by artists was followed by a commercial buy-up in 1997, signalling the legitimization of a growing and diverse working community. This former parts factory now exists as a complex of mixed-use workshop units; a model familiar in other post-industrial cities but here, like so many things in America, the scale is monumental. Encompassing 140 artists and small businesses the RIC supports some innovative workshops and galleries.
The Russell Industrial Center Within the RIC there is an amazing diversity brought together into what was once a monoculture of automobile industry. Where once the entire RIC would have been a single component in the citywide work of producing cars, it now supports multiple forms of work, all with the potential to feed ideas into one another and Detroit culture at large.
AK Services Furniture and antiques company AK Services are one of the many businesses operating out of the RIC where they run a good trade in dealing and restoring valuable pieces for Detroit's many fine private houses. Their workshop sits side-by-side with a sculptor's studio, a well-equipped gym and training center and a contemporary gallery; the RIC is developing a city-like diversity of activity within its walls which makes for a healthy environment for business.
AK Services AK told us the cheap rents were the main attraction of the Russell Industrial Center and that the appeal of Detroit as a city is sometimes hard to grasp. Cabinet-maker Waldemar had recently returned from his native Poland and noted the marked improvements there, wondering whether Detroit was the America he had imagined.
AK Services The presence of such skilled craftsmen at the RIC can only be a positive sign for the city. Detroit's empty industrial units seem to offer the potential for a revival of the inner-city craft production that was the norm in British city's before the Industrial Revolution that saw its Western climax in the Motor City heyday.
The New Breed Training Group Tavarrio Davis is a 19 year old athlete and trainer at the New Breed Training Group. Tavarrio moved to Detroit this year to stay with his cousin and train for competitive short sprint running whilst teaching various classes.
View from inside the Russell Industrial Center