In 2005, native Detroiters George and Erika Baker officially began Urban Alterscape Inc with a mission to restore and transform urban environments while raising expectations for design, workmanship, and lifestyle. We provide a broad range of innovative design and contracting services aimed at increasing the aesthetic quality and financial value of properties and businesses in the city of Detroit and beyond. The unique skill sets and experiences of the founders create a client-focused, detail-oriented, and passionate team that works strategically and proficiently with the best interest of each project in mind.
Our strength is in collaboration and our approach is holistic. Business and property owners, as well as non-profits and other community stakeholders, are considered an integral part of the project process. We have a network of talented and trusted partners that continues to grow, including architects, designers, engineers, fabricators, and trade sub-contractors, in order to meet a broad scope of project needs.
construction catalyst, tyrannical perfectionist
While George is a licensed builder with 30+ years of experience in both residential and commercial carpentry and general contracting, his career in construction began on a smaller scale: fashion design and garment fabrication. Educated at Wayne State University (Detroit) and the Fashion Institute of Technology (NYC), his unique perspective and training has fostered the passion and ability to work with projects of various scales, with a wide variety of materials, to a craftsman’s level of detail. George maintains the critical eye of a frustrated artist. He has a comprehensive understanding of the construction process and ascertains the unique demands of each project from the base level elements and systems to the final touches. Because of these skills, value engineering is one of his greatest strengths, recommending adjustments to construction methods and materials while working with closely architects, interior designers, and engineers to retain the original intent of the design within the budget.
design catalyst, chief troublemaker
Erika’s approach to the built environment is fundamentally defined by her foundational experience in psychology and social work, where design is intended to both respond to and elevate the human experience. While she holds a BS in Interior Architecture and Design from Lawrence Technological University (Southfield), her previous BA in Psychology from UM (Ann Arbor) and 8 years experience as a Social Worker in Detroit makes her highly sensitive to the impact of design on corporate, community, and individual levels. With a 20+ year history in design and project management, Erika's work ranges from small, street-level, independent and non-profit developer projects to multimillion-dollar large-scale commercial projects, within a wide array of project types. Because of her positive engagement with small business owners, neighborhood development agencies, and start-up initiatives, she is also sought after as a project facilitator and program consultant. Erika further feeds her creative compulsions by exploring woodworking, welding, painting, and photography.
While born & raised in the west side of the state, Mario has always been curious about Detroit and its renaissance.
Mario has always been interested in design. Whether it was customizing hot wheels cars, dissembling Lego sets and making his own creations, or drawing; he has always followed creativity.
His choice to enter the design and built environment field was a natural and easy one. Mario graduated from Ferris State University with a bachelor’s degree in Architecture & Sustainability, and an associates in Architectural Technology.
Once in higher education, he began to narrow his sights on what he was passionate about; Social Design. His senior capstone was to revitalize an abandoned building in Idlewild, Michigan; a historically renowned African American resort during the Jim Crow era. Upon experiencing this project and seeing firsthand how the built environment affects people on a holistic approach (mind, body & soul) he knew this was his niche.
With his degrees in Architecture & Sustainability and Architectural Technology, Mario plans to implement his experiences/knowledge in the real world, by developing thoughtful work centered on the human experience and surrounding environment.
Cassandra has always felt that everyone, regardless of their social or financial standing, deserves a comfortable, uplifting place to call home. This has fueled her passion for architecture since she was a child. A graduate from the University of Michigan and the University of Oregon’s Urban Architecture Program, Cassandra has focused much of her career on sustainable design. While Architecture and design are her first loves, she is also a massage therapist who focuses on creating space to heal for those suffering from anxiety and chronic pain. Through the knowledge gained about the human body she has been able to design healthier and more inspiring spaces. She has worked on many types of projects and has had a leading role in all phases of design.
Continuously seeking ways to enhance the environment and experience around her, Sophia’s curiosity with design began at a young age. After obtaining her bachelor’s degree in Interior Design at Michigan State University and briefly working in the commercial sector in Singapore, she set her sights on Detroit.
Over the past six years, Sophia has gained substantial commercial experience, ranging from workplace to sacred space to retail, creating distinct and memorable moments with an emphasis on details in each design. Her strengths in conceptual development and narrative integration translate two-dimensional elements into experiential, tangible expressions of brand identity through each project. Her emphasis on listening and collaboration has fostered many strong relationships throughout the Detroit design industry, and she continues to grow her involvement within the community.
A classical and jazz vocalist also pursuing a career in Speech Pathology, Emmanuelle has been finagled into the family business. Assisting with all things admin, she also brings her unique perspective to design with her involvement in the music industry and medical field.