Art that Surrounds Us

Architectural Design in Grosse Pointe by Rob Wood

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said that love of beauty is taste but the creation of beauty is art. If you’ve taken a stroll down Kercheval Avenue lately and passed by the Hill Shops or Village Stores, you have seen the true beauty of Grosse Pointe. The architectural landscape is breathtaking and emulates that small-town charm. It is the centerpiece to this Community and accentuates our beautiful City. How lucky are we to have such an amazing backdrop for our quaint borough. While there are a number of individuals and wonderful contributors to this palette, one man truly had the vision. This vision brought the past to the present and the present to the past in a way that only a true artist could.  

Rob Wood grew up surrounded by great design. He was born and raised to parents who were true artists themselves. Dad was a successful Architectural Designer in Grosse Pointe and Harbor Springs in the late 1940’s and beyond, and Mom was a well known local interior designer and oil painter. The Center for Creative Studies and his tremendous opportunities with some of the greatest builders, helped to perfect Rob’s talent and “jump-started” his career to become one of the most influential architectural designers in the area.    

Rob Wood began this journey when he graduated from Grosse Pointe South High School in 1980 and then concentrated in Industrial Design at the prestigious Center for Creative Studies in Detroit. From there, he founded a unique windsurfing company based on a patent that he designed while in school and piloted XS Sports in North America, Europe and the Pacific Rim.  Rob returned to his roots when Bill Pulte asked him to join Pulte Homes in 1990 as an architectural designer.  While with the Pulte Home Corporation, Rob designed homes in communities across America, Mexico, Argentina and even Guam.  Even though he loved working with Bill and his crew for almost 10 years, Rob decided that he wanted to come back and work with his father before that opportunity disappeared. In 1999, Rob returned home to Grosse Pointe and partnered with his dad for the last four years of his father’s life; one of the best decisions Rob said he ever made.    

When Rob came home to Grosse Pointe, he did so with a fresh perspective and greater appreciation for its rich history and architecture.  He came back with the passion to not only preserve that history but enhance and make it relevant.  One of his first big projects in Grosse Pointe was with Edward Russell.  Ed came to Rob to develop the current concept for some of his buildings on the Hill. Rob worked diligently to come up with a long-term solution. Keeping in mind our French and English heritage, Rob wanted to create buildings that made a statement about us and also captured the essence of Grosse Pointe. Utilizing elements from the community, Rob was able to create classic charm and character in his new buildings on the Hill and later all along Kercheval and beyond. Rob’s philosophy is that structures should be emblematic of the community but still distinct.   

When in conversation with Rob Wood, you cannot help but feel his infectious enthusiasm for this community and its design.  His work is reflective of his love of Grosse Pointe and excitement for architecture.  Rob enjoys not only the creativeness of it but also the challenge.  He constantly refers to preserving the old and incorporating the new and says that you can have the best of both worlds… but it may take some problem-solving. He says the fun is coming up with those solutions to make it look as if it has been there for years. “If you could dig up Albert Kahn and walk him through it, what would he say?” Rob questions. He looks for pieces of the old to incorporate and compliment but at the same time wants to make sure that it is relevant to the present and will be extremely functional for the next 100 years.  His vision for buildings is to make them beautiful but also to make them last.    

When creating the conceptual Grosse Pointe, Rob kept in mind not only an artistic one but a practical one as well. His ideas for the retail was that “if you own a storefront in a high-end shopping district, you need to not only get the car to slow down, notice the business, but pull over, get out of the car, walk into the shop and then actually spend money.” The way to do that is by making it charming and inviting, using great signage, lighting, materials, etc… and have it exude character.  “How do you create character out of thin air,” Rob asks?  He says that a good design can do that. In addition, Rob has taken his love of the community to residential real estate.  Rob expressed that our two greatest assets are the lake and architecture.  He has been all over the world and says that there is no place as special as Grosse Pointe.   

Rob Wood has designed over 20 commercial buildings on Kercheval alone, created plans for more than 150 residences throughout the Grosse Pointes, and has left his mark on this amazing town… although he would tell you that “I don’t ever want it to look like I was here.”  In Rob’s search for authenticity, creativity, history and character, Rob has indeed left an indelible impression, in his simple yet not so simple, creation of beauty which we call the art that surrounds us.   Rob currently resides in Grosse Pointe Farms with his wife,Tricia, and son, Logan.

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