Inspired by Art Deco architecture and influences of Detroit.

    Standing with spirit of Detroit.

    Detroit is the largest city in the midwestern state of Michigan. Near Downtown, the neoclassical Detroit Institute of Arts is famed for the Detroit Industry Murals painted by Diego Rivera, and inspired by the city’s ties to the auto industry, giving it the nickname "Motor City." Detroit is also the birthplace of Motown Records, whose chart-topping history is on display at their original headquarters.

    During the late 19th century, wealthy industry and shipping magnates commissioned design and construction of several Gilded Age mansions east and west of the current downtown, along the major avenues of the Woodward plan. Most notable among them was the David Whitney House at 4421 Woodward Avenue, and the grand avenue became a favored address for mansions. During this period some referred to Detroit as the "Paris of the West" for its architecture, grand avenues in the Paris style, and for Washington Boulevard, recently electrified by Thomas Edison.

    Detroit Architecture

    Seen in panorama, Detroit's waterfront shows a variety of architectural styles. The post modern Neo-Gothic spires of the One Detroit Center (1993) were designed to refer to the city's Art Deco skyscrapers. Together with the Renaissance Center, these buildings form a distinctive and recognizable skyline. Examples of the Art Deco style include the Guardian Building and Penobscot Building downtown, as well as the Fisher Building and Cadillac Place in the New Center area near Wayne State University. Among the city's prominent structures are United States' largest Fox Theatre, the Detroit Opera House, and the Detroit Institute of Arts, all built in the early 20th century

    What are the main features of Art Deco?
    Identifiable Features
    • Smooth wall surface.
    • Sharp edged, linear appearance.
    • Stylized decorative elements using geometrical forms, zigzags, chevrons.
    • Low relief decorative panels.
    • Stepped or set back front facade.
    • Strips of windows with decorative spandrels.
    • Reeding and fluting around doors and windows.

    Guardian Building

    The Guardian Building is a landmark skyscraper in the United States, located at 500 Griswold Street in Downtown DetroitMichigan, within the Financial District

    The main frame of the skyscraper rises 36 stories, capped by two asymmetric spires, one extending for four additional stories. The roof height of the building is 496 ft (151 m), the top floor is 489 feet (149 m), and the spire reaches 632 ft (192.6 m). Its nickname, Cathedral of Finance, alludes both to the building's resemblance to a cathedral, with its tower over the main entrance and octagonal apse at the opposite end and to New York City's Woolworth Building, which had earlier been dubbed the Cathedral of Commerce. Native American themes are common inside and outside the building. Wirt C. Rowland, of the Smith, Hinchman & Grylls firm, was the building's architect. The building rises from a granite and stone six story base with two Corrado Parducci created sculptures flanking the Griswold Street entrance. The exterior blends brickwork with tile, limestone, and terra cotta. Rowland's attention to detail was meticulous. He supervised the creation of the colored brick cladding to achieve the desired color for the exterior. Afterward, the brick was marketed by the manufacturer as "Union Trust Brick" and after 1939, as Guardian brick". Rowland designed furniture for the bank's offices and his attention went as far as designing tableware, linens and waitress uniforms for a restaurant in the building.

    The building's three story, vaulted lobby is lavishly decorated with Pewabic and Rookwood tile. The semi-circular exterior domes are filled with Pewabic Pottery; Mary Chase Perry Stratton worked closely with the architect in the design of the symbolic decorations. A Monel metal screen divides the lobby from the banking hall on the second floor, the screen features a clock in the center designed by Tiffany. The building includes works by muralist Ezra Winter in the mosaic above the main lobby desk and the mural at the end of the banking hall. The large mosaic is of a pine tree and text that states the Union Trust Company's purpose for the building, "Founded on principles of faith and understating, this building is erected for the purpose of continuing and maintaining the ideals of financial services which promoted the organization of the institution". The mural highlights Michigan's industries such as manufacturing, farming and mining. In order to dampen the sound in the banking hall, its cement-plaster ceiling features a hand-painted canvas ceiling, which was stretched over a mat of horsehair.The Guardian Building featured innovations in both design and technology. The building's designer, Wirt Rowland, specified Monel metal in place of the commonly used brass and bronze for all exposed metalwork on the building, an innovation which was widely adopted, most notably on New York's Chrysler Building. Rowland dispensed with traditional forms of decoration, using instead colored materials (brick, stone, and terra cotta) set in geometric patterns on both the interior and exterior of the structure. The building's elevator system represented the first use of technology which automatically stopped the car level with the floor and opened the doors, tasks formerly handled by the operator.

    Fisher Building

    The Fisher Building is a landmark skyscraper located at 3011 West Grand Boulevard in the heart of the New Center area of DetroitMichigan. The ornate 30-story building, completed in 1928, is one of the major works of architect Albert Kahn, and is designed in an Art Deco style, faced with limestonegranite, and several types of marble. The Fisher family financed the building with proceeds from the sale of Fisher Body to General Motors. It was designed to house office and retail space.

    The building, which contains the elaborate 2,089-seat Fisher Theatre, was designated a National Historic Landmark on June 29, 1989. 

    The Fisher Building rises 30 stories with a roof height of 428 feet (130 m), a top floor height of 339 feet (103 m), and the spire reaching 444 feet (135 m). The building has 21 elevators. Albert Kahn and Associates designed the building with Joseph Nathaniel French serving as chief architect. French took inspiration from Eliel Saarinen's Tribune Tower design of 1922, seen in the emphasis on verticality and the stepped-back upper stories. The building is unlike any other Albert Kahn production. It has been called "Detroit's largest art object".

    In 1929, the Architectural League of New York honored the Fisher Building with a silver medal in architecture. The opulent three-story barrel vaulted lobby is constructed with forty different kinds of marble, decorated by Hungarian artist Géza Maróti, and is highly regarded by architects. The sculpture on the exterior of the building was supplied by several sculptors including Maróti, Corrado Parducci, Anthony De Lorenzo and Ulysses Ricci.

    Fisher Theatre

    The building also is home to the Fisher Theatre, one of Detroit's oldest live theatre venues. The theatre, designed by the Chicago-based architectural firm of Anker S. Graven & Arthur G. Mayger, originally featured a lavish Aztec-themed interior in the Mayan Revival style, and once had Mexican-Indian art, banana trees, and live macaws that its patrons could feed. After the Depression, the theatre operated primarily as a movie house until 1961. Originally containing 3,500 seats, the interior was renovated into a 2,089-seat playhouse that allowed for more spacious seating and lobbies for patrons at a cost of $3.5 million. The decor was changed to a simple mid-century design.

    The "new" Fisher Theatre opened October 2, 1961 and is owned and operated by the Nederlander Organization. It primarily features traveling productions of Broadway shows and has hosted numerous out-of-town tryouts.

    Penobscot Building

    The Greater Penobscot Building, commonly known as the Penobscot Building, is a class-A office tower in Downtown DetroitMichigan. The 1928 Art Deco building is located in the heart of the Detroit Financial District. 

    Name origin

    The building is named for the Penobscot, a Native American tribe from Maine. Native American motifs in art deco style ornamentation is used on the exterior and the interiors. 


    The architect Wirt C. Rowland, of the prominent Smith Hinchman & Grylls firm based in Detroit, designed the Penobscot in an elaborate Art Deco style in 1928. Clad in Indiana Limestone with a granite base, it rises like a sheer cliff for thirty stories, then has a series of setbacks culminating in a red neon beacon tower. Like many of the city's other Roaring Twenties buildings, it displays Art Deco influences, including its "H" shape (designed to allow maximum sunlight into the building) and the sculptural setbacks that cause the upper floors to progressively "erode".

    The opulent Penobscot is one of many buildings in Detroit that features architectural sculpture by Corrado Parducci. The ornamentation includes American Indian motifs, particularly in the entrance archway and in metalwork found in the lobby. At night, the building's upper floors are lit in floodlight fashion, topped with a red sphere.

    The building's architect, Wirt C. Rowland, also designed other Detroit skyscrapers, such as the Guardian Building and the Buhl Building, in the same decade.