Neal Robinson, assistant professor of practice in architecture and founder of n_space architectures, an Ann Arbor-based practice, won a 2020 Design Award from the Michigan Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA). The award is for eve restaurant @ Bell Tower Hotel in Ann Arbor.
After ending the run of a much-loved nouvelle cuisine restaurant in the Kerrytown district of Ann Arbor, the owner/chef of this project was encouraged by both local patrons and national press alike to consider its eventual revival. The former, eve-the restaurant, had managed to cement itself into the collective memory and cultural habits of the community and gained both regional and national recognition for its chef and her creative dishes. In 2013, Ann Arbor’s upscale Bell Tower Hotel offered its café space as home for a new eve. Given n_space’s successful involvement with the owner’s first (and second) restaurants, Robinson’s firm was retained as design architects to articulate the reappearance and recollection of eve-the restaurant @ Bell Tower Hotel. The design charge was to elevate both spatial and tactile qualities to keep pace with the increasing sophistication of the chef’s cuisine and, contemporary, culinary palates. A new but reverberant relationship with the material memory of the original “eve” was also a primary concern.
From the AIA Jury: “An incredibly disciplined design, soft light and varied textures add to the warmth of the palate. The restaurant’s patrons add color and contribute to the liveliness of the space.”
A licensed architect, Robinson established SKYLAB Architectures, a community-based design practice in Atlanta, and co-founded WETSU, a design+build practice in Ann Arbor, before creating n_space architectures in 2007. He describes it as “a spirited architectural practice that champions the ‘exuberant and synthetic condensation of spatial optimism.’”