Tag Archives: Detroit

Artist Spotlight: Chris Burton

The GMRENCEN is dedicated to the safety of our tenants and visitors. In compliance with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services emergency order, new procedures and precautions are now in place at the GMRENCEN. Learn more about our new guidelines here.


Local photographer Chris Burton has seen Detroit’s true colors. After moving back to the city from a two-year stint in Dallas, he’s returned with a new goal:  showcase Detroit as a beautiful space with cool things to see and do.


In October 2019, Chris took over the GMRENCEN Instagram account to show you Detroit from his perspective.


Here is everything you need to know about Chris and his takeover.


He’s rediscovering the city through photography.


It all started when he moved back. Chris picked his camera up after returning to the city because he was overtaken by all the architecture and art in Detroit.


Though he had a positive first impression of the Motor City, he became more familiar with it through his photography. He spent his nights walking around with his camera to capture the sights that caught his eye.


He’s self-taught.


From first picking up a camera in high school to developing music videos to booking his weekends full of wedding and real estate shoots, his photography encompasses a wide-range of purpose and style.


But for Chris, photography was a self-taught skill. Though he’s only been shooting for about two years now, his work has grown tremendously thanks to his late-night walks trying new things and honing his craft.


He sees Detroit in a positive light.


As he travels, Chris enjoys sharing the beauty he experiences with his audience. Detroit is no exception.


“I personally love Detroit, but I think people’s first opinion of Detroit tends to be negative,” said Chris. “I’d love to change that.”


With his audience reaching across the states, he can introduce his followers to a city they have only heard about. Luckily for Detroit, he has plenty of good things to share.


He thinks Detroit is the most exciting city.


Chris’s work will always showcase something new. Whether it’s a bird’s-eye view of the city’s skyline or a snapshot of dinner and drinks at the hottest restaurant in town, he wants to share his experiences with you.


“I think Detroit is the most exciting city,” he said. “It seems every month, something new is opening.”




He loves a place with a view.


As a photographer, Chris loves any place that allows him to experience cool views, and there’s something special about being high above the city. According to Chris, you can get such a different perspective from up high.


“I love the GMRENCEN”, Chris said. “Volt in the Detroit Marriott is one of the coolest, most lowkey places in Detroit. It’s one of the city’s best kept secrets.”


He also enjoys the exclusivity of some of the city’s newer hot spots, such as the Monarch Club, Little Caesars Arena and Highlands Detroit.


He appreciates the details.


Chris’s photography is based off capturing the intricate details of a city that might otherwise go unnoticed. With an appreciation for the history and culture behind the city’s architecture, he wants to make people aware, seeing the same things they’ve seen before but in a new perspective.


“Detroit has some amazing architecture, but often times, people can walk by some of those finer details without even noticing,” he said. “I want to make people see a photograph of something they’ve seen before, but this time realizing just how cool the details behind it are.”


He is inspired.


For Chris, the whole process is inspiring. His journey of exploring different parts of the city always takes him somewhere new, leading him to create art from his camera.


“I’m trying to help people see their own backyard in a different light,” he said. “I’d love for them to see things in a different way and truly appreciate what they’re walking by.”


He believes in working outside of your comfort zone.


“Take something you’re afraid to do and do it,” said Chris. “Be confident in yourself. If you put in the work, there’s a lot more you can accomplish.”


Chris Burton lives in Detroit. Follow him on Instagram or check out his online portfolio to see more of his work.


Fall into the Season at the GMRENCEN

It happens every year. Warm summer nights transition into crisp, cool fall mornings. Deep green leaves turn into vibrant reds, oranges and yellows before falling off the trees. Sundays become game days.


From changing colors to changing menus, here’s what to expect from fall fun, fashion and food at the GMRENCEN.


Fall Fun


When you think of fall, what do you imagine? Whether it’s crisp leaves crunching beneath your feet, cool wind whipping through your hair or beautiful fall foliage all around you, you can experience it all here in Detroit. The Detroit RiverWalk is the perfect place to take in the sights and sounds of fall. It also happens to be one of the city’s most Instagrammable hot spots, along with the GMRENCEN.



Leaves aren’t the only colorful fall foliage to capture your attention this season. From giant sunflowers to dainty mums, light yellows to dark reds, nothing showcases the look of autumn like a beautiful floral arrangement. Fall is the perfect time to treat yourself or a loved one to a little something special – like a personal bouquet made by Ashley at Ashley’s Flowers.


Change is in the air, so why not change up your fitness routine? Whether it’s Running for Brews or a Chili Cook-Off and Tailgate, there’s always something to do at RenCen Fitness. As you draft your to-do list this season, be sure to throw in a few fun events at RenCen Fitness. After all, balance is key.


Fall Fashion




Extra layers are essential for fall. With the weather getting chillier, it’s time to talk about scarves, sweaters and stylish jackets. Everyone has their own fall style. For a fresh city look, check out Pure Detroit’s line of cozy hoodies to keep you warm this season. If that’s not your thing, the GM Company Store has plenty of thick jackets to represent all your favorite brands and protect you from the cold.


Fall Flavors


Dive into a pile of fall by experiencing all the flavors Panera has to offer. From traditional bowls of turkey chili or warm grains to something sweeter like Panera’s cinnamon-themed seasonal menu, this really is fall “food as it should be.”



Nothing warms the soul faster than a hot cup of soup. With 12 delicious flavors prepared each day, Zoup’s got you covered in the soup department! From classics like Fire Roasted Tomato Bisque, Clam Chowder and Old-Fashioned Chicken Noodle to explosions of flavor like Pepper Steak, Jamaican Bay Gumbo and Ginger Butternut Squash, you’ll stay warm and cozy all season long.


Who says s’mores are just for summer? Even though the weather is getting cooler, there’s still plenty of time to warm up next to a blazing bonfire. Because of this, Potbelly recently made a brand-new s’mores cookie for the fall. S’mores season isn’t over just yet!



A list of fall flavors would be incomplete without including pumpkin spice. Starbucks has certainly come prepared for the changing seasons, offering delicious drinks like the Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew, Salted Caramel Mocha and of course the PSL. It may be considered basic, but it’s a classic for a reason.


Fall is the perfect time to plan sweet dates and activities. As the weather cools down, heat up with a special date night for you and your significant other. You never know what you’ll find to do in Detroit, whether it’s a crisp walk along the Riverfront or a romantic Sweetest Day dinner at Joe Muer Detroit.


High above the city on the 71st and 72nd floor of the GMRENCEN, Highlands Detroit welcomes you to enjoy fall from an elevated view. No matter what your plans are this season – a quick drink after work, a party with your closest friends or an unforgettable night of elite dining – this year will truly be extra special with the November opening of Highlands.


There’s plenty of fun, fashion and food at the GMRENCEN this season. Be sure to check these, and more, off your fall bucket list and share your experiences with us on the GMRENCEN Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

#GMRENCEN in the Fall

The dog days of summer have officially ended and now it’s time for fall. As the weather cools, the leaves fall and the days shorten, be sure to look around you and enjoy the beautiful colors of a Detroit autumn.


There are many breathtaking photos of the GMRENCEN and fall foliage, but here are some of our favorites.


Photo by Tom Hughes


Photo by Linda Moss


Photo by Jason Clemens


Photo by David Saliba


Photo by Steven Samolinski


Photo by Mark McClelland


Photo by Wade Bryant


Photo by Christopher Hollis


Photo by Suzann Braun


There’s certainly more to come as the colors continue to change around the city! Which of these is your favorite fall photo?

Prioritize Your Health at Detroit’s Athletico Physical Therapy

Life can be draining. Between long days at work, big life events, everyday responsibilities and more, it’s easy to forget to take a moment for yourself. But as you work hard, so does your body. Prioritize your health today with a free assessment from Athletico Physical Therapy.


Since opening in 1991, Athletico has worked to alleviate the pain and discomfort of patients. When Athletico moved into the GMRENCEN in April, the city gained a new resource for pain management. Now, the latest Detroit clinic is staffed with highly-trained Doctors of Physical Therapy who are devoted to enhancing people’s health and quality of life.


Expert Staff


Athletico employs only the best physical therapists, personal trainers, conditioning specialists, massage therapists and more to work with clients and develop personalized physical therapy programs that work for them. From everyday discomfort to more serious injuries, these highly-trained experts are here to help you stay safe and healthy.


Top-of-the-Line Services


Both preventative and restorative, physical therapy is a healthy and effective solution without medication or surgery. At this location, Athletico provides clients with a variety of top-of-the-line rehabilitation services including:



Easy Process


Who says physical therapy has to be difficult? Athletico eases the process for patients by accepting all major insurance plans, offering convenient hours, scheduling quick initial evaluations and providing ongoing patient care.


Learn more about why this GMRENCEN tenant truly is “Better for Every Body.” Athletico is located in Tower 200, Level 1 of the GMRENCEN. To learn more, or to schedule a free assessment, stop by or visit athletico.com/Detroit-Downtown.

Namaste Detroit: Rooftop Yoga at the GMRENCEN

Rooftop yoga is a community and building favorite here at the GMRENCEN.


In partnership with RenCen Fitness, the GMRENCEN hosts free rooftop yoga classes throughout the summer. Rain or shine, morning or afternoon, enjoy a fun, relaxing yoga session on the rooftop of the Beaubien Place Parking Garage overlooking the Detroit River.


Why yoga? Yoga is an ancient practice, good for the mind, body and spirit. Here’s what GMRENCEN rooftop yoga classes can do for you:


1. Start your day right.



2. Concentrate on your body and your needs.



3. Focus on your breathing.



4. Build strength.



5. Increase flexibility.



6. Improve your mood.



7. Challenge yourself.



8. Change your perspective.



9. Refresh after a long workday.



10. Rejuvenate.



11. Unwind through movement.



12. Ease physical, mental and emotional tension.



Free rooftop yoga wraps up this month, so be sure to join us for one of the final classes of the season. Registration is required, so sign up here.


If you can’t make it, RenCen Fitness has classes all year.


Have you been to rooftop yoga? Share your photos with us in the comments below.

Highlands Detroit to open atop GMRENCEN

An experience. That is what awaits you at Highlands – a vibrant, multi-concept culinary destination soon to be located on the 71st and 72nd floors of the GMRENCEN. Moving into the space once home to Coach Insignia and the revolving restaurant The Summit, Highlands is redefining the top of the tower dining experience.


Though Highlands doesn’t open until November 2019, here is what you can expect from the latest restaurant at the GMRENCEN:


An Award-Winning Partnership

James Beard Award-winning Chef Shawn McClain, along with his partners Sarah and Richard Camarota, have found the ideal location for McClain’s first hometown project, at the very top of Detroit and the tallest building in Michigan, the GMRENCEN.



Long before Detroit, McClain graduated from the School of Culinary Arts at Kendall College in Chicago. From there, he perfected his craft across the country, opening three award-winning and iconic restaurants in Chicago, then moving on to launch destinations in Las Vegas with partners Sarah & Richard Camarota. He won a James Beard Award for Best Chef Midwest in 2006 and even appeared (and won!) on Food Network’s Iron Chef America with Richard Camarota (business partner) and Scott Garthwaite (Executive Chef at Highlands) by his side.


Most recently, the partners at McClain Camarota Hospitality have grown their presence in Las Vegas, parlaying one restaurant to three starting with upscale culinary gem Sage, then moving onto pizza with FIVE50 PIZZABAR, both at Aria Resort and Casino. Finally, the third restaurant is Libertine Social at Mandalay Bay, the group’s fun, eclectic gastropub. McClain, his wife Holly and partners have been looking for the right project to take on in McClain’s hometown of Detroit; after a lengthy search the group decided GMRENCEN to be the ideal fit. “There’s really nothing that can compete with this iconic space and the legacy of the building. We are honored and excited to become the social clubhouse and comfort zone for all those who work and visit GMRENCEN,” said McClain.


One iconic destination, three unique concepts, endless ways to experience it all

Highlands will be three unique concepts and epic private event space in one iconic destination.


“Our goal was to create a spot that’s not only for special occasions, Highlands is about living it up daily, for any occasion. This is what led us to develop three distinct concepts, each with their own vibe, culinary experience and style,” McClain said.



  1. Highlands Steakhouse – Creative Riff on a Classic

Highlands Steakhouse blends tradition with innovation for a bold re-imagination of the steakhouse. Come for the vibrant, urban atmosphere, stay for the quality ingredients and epic wine list curated by Master Sommelier, Nick Hetzel.


  1. Hearth71 – Vibrant and Fun

Hearth 71 celebrates a simpler form of dining, emphasizing open-fire cooking, craft beer and rock ‘n’ roll. At the center of it all is a roaring fire to create sensational dishes like fried walleye with cornmeal crust, bacon potato salad and brussels sprout slaw.


  1. High Bar – The Happiest of Hours

High Bar encourages one to indulge in the arts and the finer things. You don’t have to wait until happy hour to order a dainty dessert, a perfectly crafted cocktail or whiskey from every corner of the world. In fact, you shouldn’t.


Highlands Events – Events as Unique as You

Planning an event? Those seeking customizable events should look no further than Highlands Events. Guests will have direct access to event curators, chefs and the beverage team to create personalized menus for any occasion.


So, raise a glass, feed your soul and lift your spirit when Highlands arrives in November. In the meantime, visit highlandsdetroit.com and keep an eye on Highlands’ Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.




15 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About the Detroit Fist

The Joe Louis Fist serves as an iconic Detroit landmark near Hart Plaza on Jefferson Avenue, right across the street from the GMRENCEN. You’ve drove past it, taken photos in front of it and probably wondered about it. So here are some fun facts you may not know about the city staple.

      1. The statue was completed by sculptor Robert Graham in 1986, nine years after the opening party for the GM Renaissance Center.
      2. Graham also sculpted the statue of President Roosevelt at the Roosevelt Memorial in Washington D.C.
      3. The statue pays tribute to famed boxer Joe Louis, who defeated German boxer Max Schmeling in 1938.
      4. Louis’ win was considered an American win during World War II.
      5. The Joe Louis Fist was a gift from Sports Illustrated Magazine, dedicated on Oct. 16, 1986.
      6. At the time, it cost $350,000 to create.
      7. Despite common belief, the monument was not brought to Detroit for Joe Louis’ death, but for the Detroit Institute of Art’s centennial anniversary.
      8. The initial arm was modeled in clay at 14 inches in length.


      10. Its structure is made of bronze and painted steel.
      11. The statue weighs 8,000 pounds (about four tons).
      12. It’s 24 feet long and can be seen from Canada.
      13. When the arm was unveiled, not everyone was pleased—there is still a controversy surrounding the statue.
      14. In response to the monument, sculptor Ed Hamilton created another statue of Joe Louis, which can be found in Cobo Center.
      15. To this day, we don’t know Graham’s exact intentions, as he worked in almost complete secrecy while creating the statue in California.
      16. What we do know is the Joe Louis Fist is abstract so that it may be seen as a symbol of the city. The exact symbol, however, is unknown, allowing people to draw their own conclusions.



      What does the Detroit fist mean to you? Let us know in the comments.

A New Perspective with Detroit Artist James Gates

James Gates is no stranger to Detroit. In fact, he spends most of his time here, capturing familiar sights from different perspectives


He entered the GMRENCEN’s Your Photo Here contest, a contest where local photographers submitted their best shots of the GMRENCEN for the chance to have the photo featured inside the building. It’s where we were first introduced to his work. You can view Gates’ photo on Level 2 in Tower 200. In August 2019, he took over the GMRENCEN Instagram account showcasing Detroit through his lenses.


What motivates you to shoot?

I started photography for the stress relief. I work in IT, and after a particularly grueling day I like to walk around with my camera to clear my head. During the day, people are just going and going constantly. With photography, I can take my time to get the effect I want to get. It requires patience and I like that.


What’s a typical photography outing like?

I always start and end at the GM Wintergarden, right on Atwater. From there I take a long walk along the Riverfront. It’s my favorite place in Detroit. I don’t necessarily know what I’m going to shoot, but I feel more relaxed when I come back.


How long have you been photographing?

I got into photography in the fall of 2014, and 2015 was a learning year, practicing long exposure and other types of shots. It started out inconsistent, but then I got hooked.


What was it like winning the GMRENCEN’s Your Photo Here Contest and being featured in the building?

It’s still such an honor. I had only been into photography for about a year and a half when I took that shot. My friend loved it so much and encouraged me share it. A little while later, the Your Photo Here Contest began, so I submitted my shot. It was a strange coincidence.


That photo is one of the first ones I took, and it’s still there.



What have you learned since then?

I feel it’s important for me to keep up with the times and continue learning new camera settings. I’m just constantly learning from other Detroit photographers.


Always look for a unique angle because you don’t want to be like everybody else.


Do you ever change up your style?

I’m always learning new ways to do things, but I tend to stick to one type at a time. I choose a technique and work on mastering it before jumping to the next thing. Right now, I’m trying to work filters into my photography. I’ll be at that for a while.


What challenges do you face with your photography?

One challenge that affects me is that I’m legally blind. This doesn’t really hinder my work, but it can be frustrating. Sometimes when I’m reviewing my work after a photoshoot, I’ll notice blemishes in my shots that I couldn’t see out in the field. Although this isn’t a huge issue with architectural photography, it would make portrait and other photography more difficult.



What did you want people to take away from your Instagram takeover?

I was born and raised in Detroit, so I have 30 plus years of good memories here, especially of the GMRENCEN. I want people to know I love Detroit and I hope that shows in my photos.



What did you want to convey with your GMRENCEN August takeover?

I wanted to share some of the photos I’ve taken on my walks, with a focus on the GMRENCEN and the Riverfront. It captured the authentic Detroit, complete with Cullen Plaza tulips, Milliken State Park Lighthouse and city sunsets.


James Gates lives in Detroit and is a legally blind photographer. See his work on his Instagram at @james.m.gates or check out his online portfolio at jgatesphotography.com.

9 Fun (and Affordable!) Things to do in Detroit this August

Drafting your end-of-summer bucket list? August in Detroit is packed with fun and affordable activities for the whole family. Whether you’re looking for relaxation or excitement, here are a few suggestions for your next Detroit adventure.


Travel like a Local

Detroit has several transportation modes to get you where you need to go, each offering a new experience. Spend a day cruising the Detroit Riverfront by renting a MoGo bike. Explore the city and the GMRENCEN by stopping at one of the 13 stations on the People Mover. You’ll discover something you didn’t know was there before.



Unleash Your Inner Adventurer

Looking to engage in the great outdoors? While city life isn’t known for wildlife, there are cool hands-on activities, exhibits and simulators to check out at the Outdoor Adventure Center. Our local DNR prides itself for “bringing ‘up north’ to downtown Detroit.” If you stop by on the last Thursday of the month, entry is free from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. You can even walk there from the GMRENCEN.


Find Inner Peace

Find time to relax before summer ends by trying yoga. There are classes galore in the city including at RenCen Fitness. You can even take in the cool breeze of the Detroit riverfront this summer atop the Beaubien Place Garage. Every Wednesday, the GMRENCEN in partnership with RenCen Fitness host free classes. We’d love to see you there.



Shop Local at Eastern Market

Did you know Eastern Market supports the community with a variety of Farm Stands scattered throughout the city? Every Wednesday from noon to 3 p.m. until October, Eastern Market will pop up on the GM Plaza providing locally sourced fruits and veggies. If you can’t make it Wednesdays for a small taste of Eastern Market, immerse yourself in Detroit culture and stop by Eastern Market. It’s one of the oldest and largest farmers markets in the country.


Experience the DIA

A must-see, the Detroit Institute of Arts has 65,000 works of art for visitors seeking a more refined Detroit experience. Seven quick QLine stops from the GMRENCEN, you can immerse yourself in all the art, history and culture the museum has to offer. Make a day of it to explore all there is to see or take it one exhibit at a time, either way you won’t be disappointed.


Rock on the Riverfront

It’s called Detroit Rock City for a reason. Chevrolet’s Rockin’ on the Riverfront is a true tradition in the city, bringing classic rock music to the Detroit Riverfront. This year’s lineup includes The Marshall Tucker Band, Mark Farner’s American Band, Soul Asylum, Loverboy, Jon Anderson of YES and Little River Band. Visit gmrencenwp.wpengine.com/chevy-ror/ or the concert series Facebook page for more information.




Dine on the Riverfront

With exquisite options and a prime view of the Riverfront, the GMRENCEN is a hot spot for Detroit dining. Classics like Andiamo and Joe Muer are ready to give you a meal to remember and an experience you won’t forget. Valet the car and keep the night going by taking a shuttle straight from Joe Muer to an event at LCA.


Take Me Out to a Ballgame

Whether you’re local or just visiting, going to a Tigers baseball game is a Detroit must. From hot dogs to home runs, experience everything Comerica Park has to offer. Certain games have firework shows after the last inning, so keep an eye out for tickets.


Spend a Day at Belle Isle

Some of the best views of Detroit’s skyline are from Belle Isle, but this popular site has so much more. There, visitors can enjoy an aquarium, conservatory, museum, nature center, fountain, giant slide, beach, golf range, Sunset Point, boat house and yacht club. Catching the sunrise or sunset on the Isle is the perfect way to spend a day in Detroit.


What else is on your summer bucket list? Let us know in the comments below.

A Healthier, Wealthier, Happier Detroit Starts at Eastern Market

Written by Nicole Hellar – Food Access Coordinator, Eastern Market


Detroiters know Eastern Market is a great place to get locally grown fruits and vegetables, but we’re so much more than that. Since 1891, we’ve brought food, culture and camaraderie to communities in the city, and help increase people’s access to healthy food. If you haven’t checked us out yet, it’s time to walk or ride your bike to our neighborhood marketplace, which just so happens to be one of the oldest and largest year-round public markets in the country. A healthier lifestyle is closer than it seems.


Eastern Market is excited to continue our Farm Stand on the GMRENCEN Plaza for our third season. This year, we will be bringing seasonal produce and goods to our Riverfront Farm Stand every Wednesday from noon to 3 p.m. until October 2.


Our Food & Health Fellows are always ready to chat with shoppers about the benefits of local food and the diversity of Michigan agriculture. We bring a variety of fruits and vegetables along with recipes to help you create nutritious, unique meals at home. “What is kohlrabi?” “How do I prepare radishes?” “When are Michigan cherries in season?” Come to the Farm Stand and talk food with us.



We source value-added goods from Eastern Market vendors to add to the mix. Some of the favorites include High Five Salt mixes, Love’s Custard Pies, Slow Jams and Germack Nut Mixes. You can also stop by for some local 8 Mile or Wild Detroit honey.


Eastern Market Farm Stands are equipped to accept all currencies including cash, credit, EBT, Double Up Food Bucks, WIC Project Fresh Vouchers and Senior Market Fresh Vouchers. When you shop with your Bridge Card at our Farm Stand your purchase will be matched, up to $20, with Double Up Food Bucks.



Double Up Food Bucks can be spent on Michigan produce allowing you to double your food budget and try new Michigan produce. Shoppers receive a free reusable bag with purchases of $7 or more. Any shopper with their own reusable bag receives $0.25 off their purchase.


Check us out on Instagram to see where else you can shop at a Farm Stand near you and explore our website to learn more about all the work the Eastern Market Partnership is doing at the market and around the city.