Experiencing Great Architecture and Creative Built Environments

Gunnar Birkerts FAIA

Domino’s Farms Prairie House (1984-98)

Gunnar Birkerts, Architect

24 Frank Lloyd Wright Drive  Ann Arbor, MI 48106

Aerial View and Map

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Photos taken November 4 and 5, 2011

To understand the Domino’s Farms building, and what is unique and interesting about it, you must click the link to the Aerial View and Map. It is long, nearly a kilometer long. It is long, twice as long as the Empire State Building is tall. It is long, and is covered by the world’s largest copper covered roof. It is long, and….well it is really long.

Designed by Gunnar Birkerts, it is a series of building blocks with hipped roofs organized on a series of 7 “sliding” tracks. The lobby entrances are created by gaps in the building blocks on the outermost tracks. The windows are continuous horizontal bands just under the deep overhangs. It is difficult to capture the building in photos (not to make excuses, but…) The best view of the building is from the expressway interchange on the west side of the complex.

Domino’s Farms was built as the headquarters for the Domino’s Pizza empire by it’s founder Thomas S. Monaghan, a Frank Lloyd Wright enthusiast. Monaghan actually amassed an impressive collection of Frank Lloyd Wright artifacts, memorabilia, art glass windows, furniture, Wright’s Cherokee red Lincoln Zepher, and even a couple Frank Lloyd Wright houses, before he decided that he should focus his energy and vast fortune on his religious faith.

Although well detailed and constructed, there isn’t a particularilly groundbreaking feature, memorable detail, or exciting approach to the building at ground level, but the building is impresive and memorable due to one fact – it is really, really long…

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Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament (1915)

Henry A. Walsh, Architect; 1915

Gunnar Birkerts, Architect – renovations 1999-

9844 Woodward Avenue, Detroit 48202

Aerial View and Directions

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Photos taken October 17, 2011

Driving down Woodward Avenue this evening, the sunlight on the west facade of the Cathedral was just right for a photo, so I had to stop.

Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament is the Mother Church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit. Started in 1915 as a parish Church, it was not initially completed until it became the Diocesan Cathedral. The towers were finally completed in the early 1950’s, and more recently, Gunnar Birkerts designed a strikingly contemporary interior carefully inserted in the Neo-Gothic edifice. Most of Birkerts work is not evident from the exterior -with the exception of the plaza to the north, and the black granite slab sign. Next time I see there is an event at the Cathedral, and I am dressed appropriately, I may stop in and get some interior photos.