Experiencing Great Architecture and Creative Built Environments

Posts tagged “University of Michigan

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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Hill Auditorium (1913)

Albert Kahn, Architect

University of Michigan

825 North University Avenue, Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Aerial View and Map

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Photos taken November 4, 2011

The Hill Auditorium is a 3,500 seat venue designed by Albert Kahn  (originally it seated 4,100, but a 2004 renovation eliminated some seating). The most striking design elements are the grand light limestone columns and frame that contains the entry doors and windows above. Especially at night when you are entering the building for a performance, the light colored columns are prominent, and you do not notice the dark brickwork of the rest of the facade. This brickwork is actually quite elaborate and includes some beautiful decorative tiles (possibly Pewabic Tile, but I have not confirmed that). I have not attended any performances inside the auditorium since the renovation in 2004, but I understand that it was beautifully done…but where did all those seats go?


Cook Law Quadrangle (1923-33)

York and Sawyer, Architects

The University of Michigan Law School

South University Avenue at State Street  Ann Arbor, MI

Aerial and Map View

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Photos taken November 4 and 5, 2011

The Cook Law Quad is one of those special places where you just feel good being there. Walking through any one of the 3 arched portals from South University Avenue, you are tranformed as you enter a beautiful space enclosed by a collection of exquisitely detailed Gothic Revivial buildings. The great lawn is crisscrossed by walkways, and has grand old trees scattered about in just the right amount to provide shade in some places and sun in other places for students to relax, talk with friends and maybe even study. The scale of the dormortories to the north and east, the dining hall to the west, and the gothic tracery windows of the Library Reading Room to the south provides a varied and timeless backdrop in all directions. I recommend entering from South University Avenue through the portal closest to State Street, next to the Lawer’s Club. The archway tunnel turns into a cloister with an arched colonnade revealing the secluded lawn beyond. Architecture is a 3-dimensional artform, only truly appreciated by progressing through the spaces and experiencing the sequence of views carefully revealed by the architecture. The UofM Law School is a textbook example.

Link to History Web Page


Ross School of Business (2009)

Kohn Pederson Fox Associates,  Architects

The University of Michigan Campus

701 Tappan Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Aerial View and Map

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Last Visited April 24, 2011

Architect’s Project Profile Sheet


The Wave Field (1995)

Maya Lin, Designer

Ann Arbor, MI

on the North Campus of the University of Michigan

Aerial View and Map

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Visited July 16, 2011

Very difficult to find, and fairly unknown, this hidden sculpture is worth driving around the beautiful UofM north campus setting searching for  a parking space. It is not that all of the parking spaces are taken, there are no public parking spaces close to this courtyard. If you are quick, there is a 15 minute drop off area across Hayward street with a couple spaces.

The scuplture is well maintained (better than the maintenance of the building), and is an interesting experience so walk around and see the various patterns the rolling waves make.

Links to The Wave Field webpages:

The Wave Field on PBS