“"a building like no other"”
The Roaring Twenties were the backdrop for the renowned architect Wirt C. Rowland to create a building like no other. In the 1920’s, the city of Detroit was a world-wide industrial and commercial hub and the city grew with unprecedented prosperity. It was in this era that a newly organized banking group – the Union Trust Company – was anxious to communicate their public image through their flagship headquarters and new offices. The Guardian Building is one of the most significant and striking Art Deco skyscrapers in the world. The building’s taller north tower and smaller octagonal south tower are connected with a nave-like block similar to the plan of a cathedral. In fact, the Guardian Building was once promoted as “the Cathedral of Finance.” Its grandeur was, and still is, unconventional. Visitors are awestruck by the explosion of color, craftsmanship and blending of Native American, Aztec, and Arts & Crafts influences. Designed by Michigan architects; erected by Michigan contractors; built by Michigan artisans--the Guardian Building is virtually a temple of Michigan commerce and ingenuity. The Griswold Street entrance is crowned with a semi-dome lined with symbolic custom tiles by Mary Chase Stratton’s Pewabic Pottery of Detroit. The lobby features a large glass mosaic and the banking hall’s spectacular mural are both by Michigan artist Ezra Winter. Flanking the sides of the main entrance are reliefs designed by Detroit’s own architectural sculptor Corrado Parducci. In all, forty artisans worked on the structure’s painted murals and ceilings, intricate tile work, mosaic and stained glass, marble fixtures and vaulted lobby. The lavish use of elegant and timeless materials is plentiful throughout the building. For example, the Italian Travertine marble used as steps and wall surfaces, contrasted with the deep red Numidian marble imported from Africa. Brilliantly colored Rookwood tiles fill the lobby’s vaulted ceiling. Monel metal was used in the large ornamental screen dividing the banking hall and main lobby. Even the office corridors and restrooms are lined in a Tavernelle marble from Tennessee.
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The Guardian Building
- Wed: 8:30 am - 5:30 pm
- Mon, Tue, Thu, Fri: 8:30 am - 5:00 pm
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