With the auto industry booming in the 1920s Detroit was flush with cash. As a result most of their grand buildings date from that period – which coincided with the Art Deco movement in architecture.
The Guardian Building is the best example in Detroit, and one of the very best in the world. It has made every single list of top 10 Art Deco skyscrapers every published.
In addition to the Art Deco, they use a Native American theme throughout the exterior and interior.
This unique, and stylish mix is fantastic.
The building is asymmetrical, with a taller tower on the north end, with a slightly shorter wing on the south.
The unique custom coloring became so popular that it is now known as ‘Guardian Bricks’.
As you enter the smallish lobby you are greeted by this great mosaic.
The north tower elevator lobbies are unique from any other with the native theme continuing. Note the stained glass window.
A close up of the stained glass. The building was designed by Wirt Rowland, and features the colored materials set in geometric patterns.
A close up of the elevator lobby ceiling shows this detail.
A Montel metal screen separates the lobby from the banking hall.
This close up of the Montel metal screen shows the very cool clock.
The massive banking hall gave this building it’s nickname – the Cathedral of Finance, with it’s strong design homage to the great cathedrals of the world.
The hall is 3 floors high and is flanked on the south end by an impressive mural.
The mural is by Michigan native Ezra Winter, and celebrates all the highlights of the state. Winter also did the mosaic featured above.
A detailed look at the mural shows this industrial side, which compliments an agricultural side (not pictured).
At the apex of the mural is a tribute to finance (after all it was built as a bank)
The newer lighting retains the art deco look.
The ceiling is covered in an acoustical absorbing material, a 3/4″ thick horsehair covering over the plaster ceiling.
This design keeps down the echoing in the great hall, as well as provides a much easier restoration that a 90 year old building requires from time to time.
Even the information sign contains the Native American elements.
The Guardian Building is truly one of the greats, worth a trip to Detroit by itself.