Experiencing Great Architecture and Creative Built Environments

Posts tagged “National Historic Landmark

Guardian Building (1928)

Wirt C. Rowland, Architect

500 Griswold Detroit MI

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While on my road trips I have my cameras with me at all times to capture the buildings I have made the pilgrimage to experience. While home in Detroit, I go past some of America’s great architectural treasures nearly every day. I have been in each of them countless times over the years and almost take them for granted. I do take visitors through them to show them off, but rarely do I think to bring my own camera.

Yesterday I was downtown and walked into the Guardian Building to be inspired. Of course my “big” camera was back home, but I took out my phone and tried to capture the experience with the camera in my phone. Consider these as just snapshots of this amazing colorful “Art Deco Mayan Revival” space. Hopefully this will be enough to tempt you to experience this for yourself the next time you are in Detroit. It is well worth the trip.

Check back for my description and comments on the building, but in the mean time enjoy the photographs.

Click here to view the Guardian Building’s website


Michigan State Capitol (1879)

Elijah E. Myers, Architect

Capitol Square, Lansing MI

Aerial View and Directions

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Photos Taken July 5, 2012

I am proud to say that this is my State Capitol. I have not been inside since I was a child. I remembered that the rotunda floor was glass, which fascinated me at that young age. Well the glass floor is still there, and it is a simple surprisingly understated highlight. And of course, from the center of the rotunda floor, looking up you get an amazing view of the dome ceiling. I recommend taking the elevator up to the fourth floor where you get a closer view of the dome ceiling. Then work your way down floor by floor on the wide stairs and just explore. The Senate and House chambers are both interesting, beautifully restored, and each unique. You can get into the galleries of both houses off the third floor and get an overview of the chamber floor below. On the second floor you can get into the doorway of both the Senate and House chambers. While in the center corridor look up at the chandeliers. They are converted gas light fixtures,  and there are bronze deer and other native animals amongst the light globes. The original Supreme Court chamber was open, and I was able to walk through a corner of the space.The grand wood door to the Governor’s office was closed. Looking back on it I didn’t check to see if it was open…maybe I should have knocked?

I highly recommend a visit, even if just for a few minutes to walk into the rotunda. This is a special building,  our special building.

Click here for a video of the history and restoration of the Capitol.


Cincinnati Union Terminal (1933)

Paul Philippe Cret with Fellheimer & Wagner, Architects

1301 Western Ave., Cincinnati OH

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Last Visited March 19 2012

Visible from I-75, you may think this building is the Hall of Justice from the DC Comic’s Justice League – which it did inspire. An image of this building also appeared in the movie Batman Forever as the “Hippodrome”, where Dick Grayson’s family is killed by Two-face.

In reality, it is the Cincinnati Union Terminal for train service in Cincinnati. Designed by Paul Cret, the same beaux arts architect as the Detroit Institute of Arts.

The Art Deco facade has bas relief sculptures flanking a huge arched window assembly with a stepped fountain out in front greeting travelers.

Inside, the halfdome lobby is vast and surprisingly colorful, with bold stripes of yellows and oranges in the ceiling, and amazing colored glass mosaic murals, each 22 feet high and 110 feet long depicting the history of Cincinnati.  From the lobby floor you at first do not realize they are composed of thousands of small glass mosaic pieces, but once you realize that, there are all the more impressive.


Carew Tower (1930)

Walter W. Ahlschlager, Architect

W. Fifth Street and Fountain Square, Cincinnati OH

Aerial View and Directions

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Last visited March 19 2012

This 49 story Art Deco/Art Moderne office tower is part of the complex that includes the Netherland Plaza Hotel. Be sure to explore the street level shopping lobby to see the silver leaf ceiling and the colorful Rookwood pottery tile archway surrounds with a bold floral theme.


Netherland Plaza Hotel (1931)

Walter W. Ahlschlager, Architect

35 West Fifth Street, Cincinnati OH

Aerial View and Directions

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Last Visited March 18-19, 2012

The Historic Netherland Plaza Hotel Building opened it’s doors on January 28, 1931 to rave reviews. The 800 room Art Deco hotel has one of the most beautiful hotel lobby restaurant/bars anywhere, the Palm Court. Built as part of the Carew Tower Complex, this hotel has hosted the likes of Winston Churchill, Elvis, Eleanor Roosevelt, Bing Crosby and John and Jackie Kennedy. Make sure you stop by the consierge station and pick up the “Walking Tour & Pocket History” brochure. Take the meandering path leading up through the Palm Court, Apollo Gallery, Continental Room, Hall of Mirrors, the Julep Room, Pavillion Caprice and the Hall of Nations. Grand staircases, each different, make the “climb” from street level up to the fourth floor Pavillion Caprice a most pleasurable journey. The Pavillion Caprice hosted 16 year old Doris Day’s first professional appearance. Even the coat check room off the lobby has the most interesting art deco door surround.

This is the first building that has a post on all 3 of my blogs, check out the Hotel and Restaurant posts for additional photos of this grand old dame.


Irwin Union Bank (1954)

Eero Saarinen Architect

500 Washington Street Columbus IN

Aerial View and Directions

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Photographs taken March 16 2012

As luck would have it ( although I say this with a sad heart ) the day I visited the Irwin Union Bank and walked in the front door…was the last day that this building was open to the public. At least as a bank. All of the employees were packing up their desks, and carting off their belongings. I was able to take lots of interior photographs, probably the last opportunity in a long time. I asked several of the bank employees what they were going to do with the building. They all hedged a little, and I got the feeling they have been asked that question a hundred times and were uncomfortable because they did not have an answer. The consensus was that it may become a museum sometime in the future…a hopeful result but an unconvincing delivery.

Even if it does open as a “museum” it will not have the same feeling as being what it was designed as…a bank. When I was there, even on the last day, people were coming in and cashing their checks, and doing their banking, just as they did the first day the bank opened in 1954.

The building is an interesting low glass box with a thin white roof plane. The roof plane has 9 domes projecting out above the roof in a 3×3 grid. These domes are actually the light fixtures for the bank interior – reflectors for the suspended uplights flooding the bank with warm light. The only walls that go to the ceiling are the perimeter glass walls. The interior “walls” stop short of the ceiling. They actually look like part of the file cabinet system, with the conference room/private offices enclosed with the cabinets.  This keeps the overall ceiling plane pure and uninterrupted.

Still worth a visit….the exterior walls are all glass so you can still peek in.


North Christian Church – Interior (1964)

Eero Saarinen, Architect

850 Tipton Lane, Columbus IN

Aerial View and Directions

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Photographs taken March 16, 2012

The interior of this landmark church is as exceptional as the exterior.

It is intimate, simple, focused…

Inspirational.

Click here for photos and description of the exterior.


Taliesin West (1937)

Frank Lloyd Wright, Architect

12621 N. Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd., Scottsdale, AZ 95261

Aerial View and Directions

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From the archives, Visited September 24, 2009

This is a “must see” destination for all Architecture Tourists – Frank Lloyd Wright’s own winter home and studio in Scottsdale AZ at the foot of the McDowell Mountains in the Arizona desert. Visiting you really can sense that it feels more like a camp than a permanent complex of buildings. As you would expect from Wright’s best buildings, the building is -as he would put it-  “of the site”, not on the site. With the inclusion of the native american petroglyphs at the entrance, and the native materials used in the “Desert Masonry” walls, it feels as though it has been there forever – and I hope it remains there for many more generations to experience in person. Photos do not capture that sense of place and discovery that you experience walking through in person (and I have seen hundreds if not thousands of photos of Taliesin West over the many years). Taliesin West houses the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation and still teaches architecture to its “apprentices” at the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture.

There are many types of tours available for Architectural Tourists. Check out the Taliesin West Tour Webpage for details.

I took the 3-hour Behind the Scenes Tour, but there are also less expensive 1-hour tours, 90 minute tours, and Night Light tours. Take your pick and I am sure you will not leave disapointed with any of them.

Not only is Taliesin West worth the trip to tour the complex, it also has a great bookstore and gift shop. The Frank Lloyd Wright Archives are also housed there for scholars and researchers to study the principles of Wright’s work. Checkout the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Website for details.

This is truly a working/living facility, not a mothballed museum behind plexiglas – come and experience it for yourself!

After exploring Taliesin West, I recommend you stay on theme and head to the Arizona Biltmore and relax over a drink and dinner at Wright’s at the Biltmore, a Traverse360Restaurant recommendation.


Bagley Memorial Fountain (1887)

H.H. Richardson, Architect

Cadilliac Square at Bates Street

Detroit MI

Aerial View and Map (note aerial photo was taken before the fountain was installed in Cadilliac Square)

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Photos taken October 8, and October 22, 2011

The fountain was a gift bequeathed to the City of Detroit by John Bagley, a local businessman and former Governor of Michigan. The elaborate granite structure is actually a drinking fountain, with 4 lions heads spouting water. It was reported that Bagley’s will called for the design to provide “water cold and pure as the coldest mountain stream”. During hot summer months, two of the lions heads had their water chilled by blocks of ice dropped into the base of the fountain packed around the pipes. I do not see any indication of how this was accomplished, but will take the reports at face value. The fountain was actually moved several times, and perhaps the ice access was eliminated during one of the moves. Originally it was located at Woodward and Fort street, then was moved to Campus Martius in 1926. It was put in storage in 2000, and then reinstalled at the eastern end of Cadillac Square, just down from Campus Martius.

Appearing at first glance as just a stately monument, this beautifully restored fountain is one of Detroit’s historical treasures. It is Michigan’s only structure by H.H. Richardson, one of America’s most important architects of the 19th century (the only other structure in Michigan by Richardson was destroyed by fire in 1946).