9-29-15-Skywalk exterior

9-29-15-Skywalk interior

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Somerset Collection is one of the region’s known retail destinations. This is the final 365 Story focused on Troy’s Somerset North and South and the Skywalk across Big Beaver Road which links them.

One of the unique structures along Troy’s Big Beaver Corridor is the skywalk that connects Somerset North with Somerset South. The impressive span was designed by James P. Ryan of JPRA Architects/ Peterhansrea Designs in 1996. This firm continues to specialize in designing exciting urban and suburban shopping centers, restaurants, and commercial spaces. The firm’s creative efforts have been recognized through awards from the American Institute of Architects, International Council of Shopping Centers, and Urban Land Institute.

In a 1996 Detroit News interview, Ryan explained his goal was to design and build a skywalk that would have a striking presence yet look natural in its surroundings and seem inviting to pedestrians. He “played with distances to make both drivers below and the walkers inside feel comfortable.”

The completed Somerset Skywalk is 700 feet long, 26 feet wide, and 17 feet above street level. The exterior was constructed with steel, Cranbrook brick, Mankato stone and more than 14,000 square feet of glass. The skywalk’s interior includes two moving walkways and a marble-covered aisle.

The 18-month construction project presented many logistics challenges. It required crews to work at night so that Big Beaver Road could remain open during business hours. Additionally, the heavy trusses for the walkway had to be lifted and put in place using helicopters.


Interior of Skywalk

James P. Ryan

Exterior of Skywalk



Detroit News, August 9, 1996

JPRA Profile, Troy Historic Village Archive


To commemorate the City of Troy’s 60th Anniversary in 2015, we will publish a different story each day that highlights a person, discovery, or event that occurred locally, regionally, nationally, or even globally between 1955 and 2015 and that helped shape our lives and our community. We will try to post stories on important anniversary dates, but we also realize that dates are less critical than content and context. We will include the facts related to controversial stories, allowing our readers to form their own opinions. We invite you to read and comment on the stories. Your suggestions for topics are also welcome and can be posted on our Facebook page, You can also email stories or ideas to the 365 Story Editor at

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