De Roy Auditorium (1964)
Minoru Yamasaki, Architect
Wayne State University Campus
5203 Cass Avenue, Detroit, MI
Photos from October 17, 2010
The Helen L. DeRoy Auditorium has been described as “A Decorated International Style Box” . It was designed and constructed with the adjacent Prentis Building and is connected with an underground passage. This pavilion stands proudly in a shallow reflecting pool (which unfortunately is usually “dry”). The doors and fixed glazing on the opposing short sides is the only façade fenestration. These entrances are linked to the campus with bridges over the moat surrounding the building. The simplicity and elegance of the gothic form tracery pattern wraps the plain box, creating a pleasing pattern especially when the sunlight casts deep shadows. It’s simple rectangular form provides no indication of the buildings use- it could as easily be a jewel box, temple or mausoleum.
This is one of several buildings by Yamasaki on the Wayne State University Campus. The De Roy Auditorium is visible from Cass Ave. through the open arcade in the Prentis Building. The other Yamasaki Buildings are within easy walking distance. Do not miss the McGregor Memorial Conference Center, as it is one of his masterpieces.
If you build up an appetite after all that walking, consider stopping by the Midtown Shangri-la restaurant a few blocks down Cass at Forest. Although Yamasaki was born in Seattle, he was a second generation Japanese American. Shangri-la, although billed as a chinese restaurant, they also have excellent sushi to keep your Yamasaki tour on theme (try the shrimp tempura roll and the kanpyo roll made by Tony, the sushi chef. If you are thirsty, bartender Beaux makes the best Negroni cocktail in town).