• Small(er) Building Types
    Nick Tobier

Nick Tobier, “Dumpster Enclosure (Culver’s),” Scio Township, Michigan, 2020. Courtesy the artist

What are the buildings that populate our lives? Smaller Building Types is a compendium of the small buildings whose tectonic forms you are not supposed to notice, but whose social roles punctuate daily routines. Surrounded by a commercial canopy advertising off-brand beer, or at the edge of the Culver’s parking lot, these buildings are doing their best to go unremarked. But this is not just one isolated building to ignore. This is a typology. Who designs these? Are they the products of architects with extreme humility? Or are these small buildings punching above their weight class for the civic importance they serve? Through a series of broadsides distributed and exhibited first with their subjects as host—Bodegas, gas station convenience stores will be depicted through measured drawings, sketches and interviews with the people who interact with them.

Nick Tobier studied sculpture at Swarthmore College and landscape architecture at Harvard Graduate School of Design. He worked at Storefront for Art & Architecture in New York, and as a designer with the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation/ Bronx Division, and LandWorks Studio, Boston. Tobier’s focus as artist-designer is in the social lives of public places, both in built structures and events, from bus stops, to kitchens, and boulevards in Detroit, Tokyo, Toronto, and San Francisco. He is the author of numerous publications including: Parking Lot Theater (Imagined Theatres, London, 2020), Looping Detroit, A People Mover Travelogue (Maize Books, 2017), Utopia Toolbox (University of Michigan Press, 2016.) Nick is a professor at the University of Michigan and cofounder of the Brightmoor MakerSpace in Detroit.