• 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 tectonic forms you are not supposed to notice, but whose roles punctuate daily routines. Surrounded by a commercial canopy advertising off-brand beer, or at the edge of a parking lot, these buildings are doing their best to go unremarked. This is a typology of 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, spatkaufs, juice stands, barber shops, post offices, among others are depicted through drawings, photos and interviews. Each enables a social exchange as well as the distribution of goods, smaller buildings recognizes that our quotidian errands accomplish more than simply procuring goods but are filled with the encounters that make these places vital in our everyday lives.

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.