Experiencing Great Architecture and Creative Built Environments

Burton Memorial Tower (1936)

Albert Kahn, Architect

The University of Michigan Campus

230 South Ingalls Street  Ann Arbor, MI

Aerial View and Map

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Photos taken November 4 and 5, 2011

The Art Deco and Art Moderne inspired tower is a counterpoint to the massive Hill Auditorium next door. Growing up in Ann Arbor, the Burton Tower was always there with its simple clock face visible above the State Theater looking down Liberty Street. From some angles the copper roof is visible and forms a proper cap on the tower. From closer up the sloped roof is not visible and the limestone facade with its simple Art Deco detailing and vertical trim forms the sillouette against the sky. The proportions and detailing just seem perfect…with the exception of the windows on the office floors. For some reason the punched double-hung windows just seem to be out of place and scale to me – more appropriate to a colonial house than an Art Deco tower. That being said, this is still one of my favorite structures on the UofM Campus.

Burton Memorial Tower houses the Charles Baird Carillon, which is a “Grand Carillon” . Some quick internet research reveals that a grand carillon includes a bourdon bell which weighs at least six tons, and can sound a low ‘G’ – who knew? In the summer you can enjoy the carillon concerts while lounging on the lawn below.

Some historical photos showing the construction

Bentley Historical Library Information Page on Tower


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