30 Famous Architects with Designs in Detroit

30 Famous Architects with Designs in Detroit

Words and Photographs by Dale Carlson with Michael G. Smith

Get more in touch with Detroit’s stunning architectural legacy using our guide to local works by 30 of the world’s most influential building designers:

Henry Hobson Richardson - Bagley Memorial Fountain 11. Henry Hobson Richardson (1838-1886) – Richardson is so famous for his myriad designs throughout the American South and East that there is an entire style of architecture named for him: Richardsonian Romanesque. Some of Richardson’s most well known commissions include Trinity Church (1872) in Boston, Sever Hall (1880) on the campus of Harvard University, New York State Asylum (1870) in Buffalo (with grounds designed by Frederick Law Olmsted), Allegheny County Courthouse (1888) in Pittsburgh, Thomas Crane Public Library (1882) in Quincy, Massachusetts, and the Marshall Field Wholesale Store Building (1887, demolished 1930) in Chicago. Richardson was a close personal friend and professional associate of America’s most famous landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted. His draftsman, Charles Follen McKim, went on to co-found the most important architectural firm in New York City’s history, McKim, Mead & White. Richardson’s John J. Bagley Memorial Fountain (1887), so named for the 16th Governor of Michigan, stands at Cadillac Square and Bates Street and has been moved twice since it was first erected in 1887. It originally stood at Woodward and Fort Street. In 1925 it was moved to Campus Martius at the northeast corner of Woodward and Monroe. It was dismantled and stored by the city from 2000 to 2007 and then moved to its present site. Bagley Fountain is Richardson’s only design in Detroit that still stands. The Richardson designed John J. Bagley Memorial Armory (1887), formerly located at Congress and Bates Street, was demolished in 1946, possibly 1957, depending on who you’re reading. A more complete local example of the Richardsonian Romanesque style can be found in the George D. Mason designed First Presbyterian Church (1889) at 2930 Woodward which was modeled after Richardson’s Trinity Church.

Daniel Burnham - Ford Building MGS2. Daniel Burnham (1846-1912) – Burnham developed the post-fire plan for the City of Chicago, also commonly known as the “Burnham Plan”. 22 years after the fire, at the 1893 World’s Columbian Expostion in Chicago, Burnham’s “City Beautiful” concepts were first introduced. These two gynormously influential works of urban planning and numerous buildings in Chicago, many that still stand, established Burnham as easily one of the most important architects in American history. Burnham’s two extant designs in Detroit are the Ford Building (1907-1909) and Chrysler House (1910-1912) formerly known as the Dime Building at 615 and 719 Griswold Street, respectively. The David Whitney Building (1914-1915), designed by Burnham’s firm, has on occasion been attributed to Burnham himself. Burnham, however, died two years before the building was planned. The Burnham designed Majestic Building (1896), formerly located at 1011 Woodward Avenue, was demolished in 1962. The Flatiron Building (1902) in Manhattan, Union Station (1908) in Washington, D.C. and Penn Station aka Union Station (1898) in Pittsburgh are three great examples of work attributed to Burnham outside of Chicago and Detroit.

Frederick Law Olmsted - Elmwood Cemetery 23. Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903) (Landscape Architect) – Olmsted, a close friend of Henry Hobson Richardson and the most influential landscape architect in American history, planned the layout of Belle Isle Park (1884) in the Detroit River Narrows, though only a small part of his vision was realized. In 1891 he was called upon to develop a management plan for Detroit’s most historic burial ground, Elmwood Cemetery (1846), located at 1200 Elmwood Street (but if you really want to find it you’ll look for “Robert Bradby Drive” on your Google map). Olmsted’s most famous commissions outside of Detroit define his career as much as they define the history of American landscape architecture. Among his most iconic work: Manhattan’s Central Park (1858-1873) co-designed with Calvert Vaux, the grounds of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. (1874-1892), the grounds of the Biltmore Estate (1899-1905) in Asheville, North Carolina, and with Burnham, much of layout for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago.

McKim Meade and White - State Savings Bank 14. McKim, Meade & White (Charles Follen McKim 1847-1909; William Rutherford Meade 1846-1928, Stanford White 1853-1906) – New York City’s most prolific and influential architectural firm designed one major building in the State of Michigan: the State Savings Bank Building (1900) at 151 West Fort Street. Seminal structures that cemented their place in American architectural history include the Washington Square Arch (1891-1895) in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village, the McKim Building (1902-1906) at the J.P. Morgan Library also in Manhattan, the Brooklyn Museum Building (1897), and the Rhode Island Statehouse (1895-1901) in Providence. The facade of the Morgan Library, incidentally, was called the “finest piece of Renaissance in the  world” by Detroit’s own Wirt Rowland [“New York Old and New”, Michigan Society of Architects, Weekly Bulletin, February 22, 1938]. Just as impressive as McKim, Mead and White’s inventory of historically significant commissions is their lengthy roster of former associates which includes six other well-known architects with designs in Detroit: Cass Gilbert, Edward Lippincott Tilton, John Merven Carrère, Thomas S. Hastings, Edward York and Philip Sawyer.

Carrere and Hastings - Merrill Fountain 15. Carrère & Hastings (John Merven Carrère 1858-1911; Thomas S. Hastings 1860-1929) – The firm’s namesakes both worked in the offices of McKim, Mead & White in New York City before forming their own firm in 1895. Merrill Fountain (1901), originally located on Campus Martius but moved to Palmer Park in 1926, was their only commission in Southeast Michigan. Their most iconic design, the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building of the New York Public Library (1902-1911) in Midtown Manhattan, is one of the most historically significant Beaux-Arts structures in the United States. The First Church of Christ, Scientist (1889-1904), also in Manhattan, is one of the firm’s most unique works, fusing Beaux-Arts, Baroque Revival and Neo-Georgian elements. In the late 1880s Carrère & Hasting built four of their most ornate structures in St. Augustine, Florida: The Ponce de León Hotel (1885-1888), now part of Flagler University, the Alcázar Hotel (c.1886-1888), now St. Augustine City Hall, Flagler Memorial Presbyterian Church (c.1888-1889), and Grace United Methodist Church (1886-1887). In Palm Beach, Florida the firm also designed “Whitehall“, the former mansion of the University’s namesake, Henry M. Flagler, which is now known as the Flagler Museum. The firm’s long-standing association with Flagler, one of Standard Oil’s founders, also resulted in their massive and nearly complete rebuilding of Manhattan’s Standard Oil Building at 26 Broadway from 1921 to 1928.

Cass Gilbert - Scott Fountain 26. Cass Gilbert (1859-1934) – Gilbert, a former assistant to Stanford White of McKim, Mead & White, designed Scott Fountain (1925) on Belle Isle and the Detroit Public Library Main Branch (1921) at 5201 Woodward Ave. Cass Avenue, which the Detroit Public Library’s back side faces, was named for former Territorial Governor of Michigan and U.S. Senator Lewis Cass, and Gilbert, coincidentally, was named for this distant relative. He is most well known for designing the Woolworth Building (1913) in Manhattan, the Minnesota State Capitol Building (1905) in St. Paul, the Union Central Life Insurance Company Building (1913) in Cincinnati, and the United States Supreme Court Building (1935) in Washington, D.C.

Tilton and Githens - MacGregor Library 17. Tilton & Githens (Edward Lippincott Tilton 1861-1933; Alfred Morton Githens 1876-1973) – This duo collaborated with the local firm of Burrowes & Eurich on the beautiful but now boarded and unused MacGregor Library (1926) at 12244 Woodward Avenue in Highland Park. Firm co-founder Edward Lippincott Tilton worked for the firm of McKim, Mead & White in 1890 before partnering in 1891 with another MM&W veteran, William A. Boring, and then much later in his career, Alfred Morton Githens, around 1920. In the late 1890s Tilton & Boring co-designed the U.S. Federal Immigration Station buildings on Ellis Island in the Upper Bay region of the Hudson River, right between Manhattan, Brooklyn and New Jersey. A personal friend of Andrew Carnegie’s secretary, James Bertram, Tilton is also well known for designing over 100 public libraries throughout the United States and Canada, most of which are located in the American Northeast.

York and Sawyer - University of Michigan Law Quad 18. York & Sawyer (Edward York 1863-1928; Philip Sawyer 1868-1949) – Yet another partnership borne out of the offices of McKim, Mead & White, York & Sawyer desiged the Martha Cook Dormitory Building (1915) on the campus of the University of Michigan, and nearly a decade later the U of M Law Quad‘s four original buildings (1924-1933). Neo-classical bank buildings, however, were their specialty, as evidenced in New York by the Brooklyn Trust Company Building (1913-1916), the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (1919-1924) and the Greenwich Savings Bank Building (1922-1924), and outside of New York by the Tour de la Banque Royal (1927-28) in Montréal and the American Security & Trust Company Building (1904-1905) in Washington, D.C.

Fun for the whole family9. & 10. Warren & Wetmore with Reed & Stem (Whitney Warren 1864-1943; Charles Wetmore 1866-1941; Charles A. Reed 1858-1911; Allen H. Stem 1856-1931) – These two firms collaborated on the Michigan Central Railroad Station (1912-1913) at 2405 West Vernor Highway which stands directly in front of what is perhaps the most infamous symbol of urban blight in all of the American Midwest: the 18-story Michigan Central Railroad Station annex. This duo of architectural firms also teamed to create another famous train station you may have heard of: Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan (1903-1913), often and incorrectly referred to as “Grand Central Station”, which was completed in the very same year. Warren & Wetmore also designed the New York Yacht Club Clubhouse (1899-1901) at 37 W. 44th Street and the Helmsley Building (1928-1929) at 230 Park Avenue, both in Manhattan. Charles A. Reed and Allen H. Stem founded their firm in St. Paul, Minnesota and moved it to New York City in 1903 after winning the commission for Grand Central Terminal. The firm designed over 100 train stations throughout North American over the course of its existence. Tacoma Union Station (1909-1911) in Tacoma, Washington is often considered to be among their best work.

Wilson Eyre Jr - Detroit Club 211. Wilson Eyre, Jr. (1858-1944) – This Philadelphia-based architect designed the Charles Lang Freer House (1887-1892) at 71 E. Ferry Avenue [now known as the Merrill-Palmer Institute of Human Development and Family Life] and the Detroit Club (1891) at 712 Cass Avenue. In his hometown of Philly, Freer’s most famous work is his conversion of the church and stable building that became the Mask & Wig Club‘s clubhouse and rehearsal hall (1894). Eyre also collaborated with Alexander Stirling Calder on Philadelphia’s Swann Memorial Fountain (1924), the same Calder who sculpted portions of the Stanford White designed Washington Square Arch in Manhattan, and who’s son created the mobile inside Marcel Breuer’s Grosse Pointe Public Library. A one-time professor of architecture at the University of Pennsylvania, Eyre also collaborated on the design of the Penn Museum Building (1899-2002).

Jens Jensen - Fair Lane 112. Jens Jensen (1860-1951) (Landscape Architect) – Jensen, a disciple of Frederick Law Olmsted, a contemporary and professional associate of Frank Lloyd Wright, and a veteran foreman within Chicago’s highly regarded park system, designed the grounds of both Henry and Clara Ford’s “Fair Lane” residence (1909-1913) in Dearborn and Edsel and Eleanor Ford’s “Gaukler Point” residence (1926-1929) in Grosse Pointe Shores. Widely regarded as a complement to Wright’s architectural ideals, Jensen’s philosophy of landscape design came to be also known as “Prairie Style”. Later in life Jensen designed the Abraham Lincoln Memorial Garden (1936) in Springfield, Illinois which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1992.

Frank Lloyd Wright - Affleck House 113. Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959) – Wright’s designs in Southeast Michigan include the “Usonian Automatic” Turkel-Benbow House (1956) at 2760 West Seven Mile Road, the Gregor and Elizabeth Affleck House (1941) at 925 Bloomfield Woods Court in Bloomfield Hills, the Melvyn Maxwell and Sara Stein Smith House (1949) at 5045 Ponvalley Road in Bloomfield Township, the William B. and Mary Schuford Palmer House (1952) at 227 Orchard Hills Drive in Ann Arbor, and the Carlton D. Wall House aka “Snowflake” (1942) at 12305 Beck Road in Plymouth. Structures outside of Detroit that helped establish Wright as America’s most famous architect include Fallingwater (1939) in Mill Run, Pennsylvania, the Frank Lloyd Wright Building of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (1959) in Manhattan, the Johnson Wax Headquarters Administration Building (1936) and Research Tower (1944) in Racine, Wisconsin, and his own home and studio, Taliesin (1911), south of the town of Spring Green in Iowa County, Wisconsin.

Ralph Adams Cram - St Florian 114. Ralph Adams Cram (1863-1942) – Gothic revivalist Cram collaborated on the design of St. Andrew’s Memorial Episcopal Church (1894-1902) at 5105 Anthony Wayne Drive/918 Ludington Mall on the campus of Wayne State University while with the firm of Cram, Wentworth & Goodhue. While with the firm of Cram, Goodhue & Ferguson, he co-designed the Cathedral Church of St. Paul (1911) at 4800 Woodward Avenue. And finally, while with the firm of Cram & Wentworth, he designed St. Florian Catholic Church (1928) at 2626 Poland Avenue in Hamtramck. During his tenure as Princeton University’s Consulting Architect from 1907 to 1929, Cram developed the school’s first master plan and oversaw the construction of approximately 25 campus buildings.

Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue - Christ Church Cranbrook15. Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue (1869-1924) – Cram’s long-time business partner designed Christ Church Cranbrook (1928) at 470 Church Road in Bloomfield Hills after the 1913 dissolution of Cram, Goodhue & Ferguson. Goodhue’s collaborations with Cram in Southeast Michigan, as noted above, were the Cathedral Church of St. Paul (1911) at 4800 Woodward Avenue and St. Andrew’s Memorial Episcopal Church (1894-1902) at 5105 Anthony Wayne Drive/918 Ludington Mall on the campus of Wayne State University. Cram and Goodhue’s All Saints’ Church (1892) in Ashmont, Massachusetts is often considered their collaborative masterpiece and interestingly the first church design commission for both of them. Goodhue is also noted for his groundbreaking Nebraska State Capitol Building design, which was constructed in Lincoln from 1922-1932 and features extensive sculpture by Lee Lawrie.

Paul Philippe Cret - Detroit Institute of Arts 116. Paul Philippe Cret (1876-1945) – Cret left his mark on Detroit in 1927 with the Central Wing of the Detroit Institute of Arts Building at 5200 Woodward Avenue. Cret’s most famous commissions outside of Detroit include the Marriner S. Eccles Federal Reserve Board Building (1937), the Pan American Union Building (1910) aka the Organization of American States Headquarters Building, and the Folger Shakespeare Library (1929) all in Washington, D.C., plus the Eternal Light Peace Memorial (1938) in Gettysburgh, Pennsylvania, the Rodin Museum Building (1928) in Philadelphia, and the University of Texas at Austin Main Building (1939) aka “The Tower” which is sadly most famous for the mass murder that took place there in 1966.

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe - Lafayette Towers17. Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886-1969) – Van der Rohe’s 860 and 880 Lakeshore Drive (1951) in Chicago, the Seagram Building (1958) in Manhattan (co-designed with Phillip Johnson), Villa Tugendhat (1930) in the Czech Republic, and the Farnsworth House (1951) in Plano, Illinois all contributed to his reputation as the father of both the modern skyscraper and the International Style of architecture. Van der Rohe’s Lafayette Park development in Detroit is often considered among his most groundbreaking work. The project includes both East and West Lafayette Towers (1963) and Lafayette Park Townhouses (1958-1960). Get the best view of the towers around the 1300 Block of Orleans Street. View the town homes on the 1200 to 1500 block of Rivard Street and on Nicolet and Joliet Place.

R Buckminster Fuller - Dymaxion House 118. R. Buckminster Fuller (1895-1983) – Fuller’s revolutionary, portable Dymaxion House (1945) was first constructed by William Graham of Wichita, Kansas in 1948, but is now preserved in its entirety at The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn. Fuller was also well known as the inventor of the “Geodesic Dome”, one of which was installed in 1953 at the Ford Rotunda (1939), also in Dearborn, which tragically burned in 1962. In the 1930s Fuller collaborated with sculptor Isamu Noguchi on the design of the Dymaxion Car. Over the course of his lifetime Fuller was granted over 20 patents, authored over 20 books, and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Ronald Reagan in 1983.

Skidmore Owings and Merrill - Ford World Headquarters19. Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (Louis Skidmore 1897-1962; Nathaniel A. Owings 1903-1984; John O. Merrill, Sr. 1896-1975) – The world-wide standard-bearer in architectural designs of monumental, behemoth and gargantuan proportion. Among the many world-famous commissions attributed to Skidmore, Owings and Merrill are the Sears Tower (1968-1974) and John Hancock (1969) Buildings in Chicago, the Jin Mao Building (1999) in Shanghai, China, and the recently completed Infinity Tower (2011) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Their commissions in Detroit include the Ford Motor Company World Headquarters Building (1956) at 1 American Road in Dearborn aka “The Glass House” and the less aesthetically striking New Center One Building (1982) on the northeast corner of West Grand Boulevard and 2nd Avenue. Skidmore, Owings and Merrill also managed the multi-million dollar mid-90s renovation that transformed John Portman’s Renaissance Center into the General Motors World Headquarters Building it is today.

Marcel Breuer - Grosse Pointe Public Library 120. Marcel Breuer (1902-1981) – A Harvard educator, a long-time associate of Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius, and student at the Bauhaus University in Weimar, Germany, Breuer counted I.M. Pei and Philip Johnson among his former pupils. Grosse Pointe Public Library (1953) at 10 Kercheval Avenue in Grosse Pointe Farms is his only work in Southeast Michigan. The library’s interior is graced by the presence of a harmoniously rendered Alexander Calder mobile. The Whitney Museum of American Art’s Breuer Building (1966) in Manhattan, generally regarded as Breuer’s career-defining work, was co-designed with Hamilton Smith Architects. Breuer’s steel tube and canvas “Wassily” chair is considered revolutionary in the field of furniture design. Other notable works by the “Brutalist” designer include the Robert C. Weaver Federal Building (1965-1968) in Washington, D.C., and the St. John’s Abbey Church and Bell Tower (1961) in Collegeville, Minnesota.

Isamu Noguchi - Horace E Dodge and Son Memorial Fountain 221. Isamu Noguchi (1904-1988) (Sculptor) – The sheer monumentality of many of Noguchi’s most elaborate sculptural works makes him, in our opinion, a near-architect….if such a thing even exists. Noguchi’s two major works in Detroit can both be found in Hart Plaza: the Horace E. Dodge & Son Memorial Fountain (1979) at the Plaza’s very epicenter, and the twisted 50+ foot high obelisk known as “Phylon” (1973) which stands on the Plaza’s northern extreme, near the main Woodward Avenue entrances. Noguchi’s classic “IN-50” coffee table (1944), fabricated by Herman Miller’s Zeeland, Michigan based furniture company, can be seen at The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn. Some of Noguchi’s most impressive works elsewhere in the world include Two Bridges for Peace (1951-1952) at Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, Japan, the American Stove Company Building’s ceiling (1946-1947) in St. Louis, and the Sunken Garden (1961-1964) at Chase Manhattan Bank Plaza in Manhattan.

Oskar Stonorov - Dancing Maidens22. Oskar Stonorov (1905-1970) – A close professional associate of famed Philadelphia architect Louis Kahn, Stonorov designed a sculpture entitled “Dancing Maidens” (cast in 1960) that was installed on the campus of Wayne State University in 1973. Stonorov buildings of note include his own home, “Avon Lea” (c.1938; built on a previously existing 18th-century foundation with some extant stonework walls), the Carl Mackley Houses (1933-1935), and the Cherokee Village Apartment Complex (c.1950s), all in Philadelphia. In May of 1970, Stonorov, his wife May, Detroit labor leader and former UAW President Walter P. Reuther, and three others died in a Lear jet crash at Emmet County Airport near Pellston in Northern Lower Michigan.

Johnson Burgee Architects - Comerica Tower MGS23. Johnson/Burgee Architects (Philip Johnson 1906-2005; John Burgee 1933-????) – Johnson and Burgee worked in partnership from 1968 to 1991. Comerica Tower aka One Detroit Center (1991-1993) at Woodward and Larned was one of their last collaborative designs. Other great buildings co-designed by the duo include Pennzoil Place (1975) in HoustonOne PPG Place (1981-1984) in Pittsburgh, the Crystal Cathedral (1980-1981) in Orange County, California, and the Sony Building formerly known as the AT&T Building (c.1978-1984) in Manhattan. Johnson also co-designed Manhattan’s Seagram Building (1958) with Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe, which is widely regarded as a quintessential masterpiece of “International Style” skyscraper design. Johnson’s personal residence in New Canaan, Connecticut, commonly known as “The Glass House“, also ranks among his most celebrated works. Johnson’s life partner of 45 years, David Whitney (1939-2005), with whom he shared his home until his death in 2005, was an highly influential albeit obscure figure in American art and architecture throughout the late 20th century.

Millard Sheets - The River Of Knowledge 124. Millard Sheets (1907-1989) – As an architect Sheets designed numerous branch bank buildings in Southern California, but he is better known for his many murals and paintings. Midwestern football fans will surely recognize his most famous work of public art, “The Word of Life” (1964) at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Indiana, more commonly known as “Touchdown Jesus”. Stylistically similar Sheets’ murals grace the interiors and facades of numerous public and bank buildings throughout California and the American West. In Detroit, Sheets created the gorgeous all-tile mosaic mural found within the exterior alcove of the 1963 rear entrance addition to the Detroit Public Library Main Branch at approximatey 5200 Cass Avenue entitled “The River Of Knowledge” (1963).

Tony Smith - Gracehopper 225. Tony Smith (1912-1980) – This world renowned minimalist sculptor counted Jackson Pollock, Barnett Newman and Mark Rothko among his friends. He worked as a clerk for Frank Lloyd Wright in the late 30s, and despite a lack of formal training took a stab at an architecture career in the late 30s and early 40s, garnering a handful of residential commisions. Despite possible future successes as a building designer, Smith gravitated towards sculpture, eventually giving up architecture altogether. His “Gracehopper” (installed 1972) is located outdoors, on the northwest side of the grounds of the Detroit Institute of Arts. Smith’s “Light Up” (1971) stands in front of Phillip Johnson and Mies Van der Rohe’s Seagram Building in Manhattan.

Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo Associates - Power Center for the Performing Arts 126. Kevin Roche, John Dinkeloo and Associates (Kevin Roche 1922-present; John Dinkeloo 1918-1981) – After studying under van der Rohe at the Illinois Institute of Technology, Roche worked as a principle design associate at the firm of Eero Saarinen. He managed the completion of numerous projects upon Saarinen’s death in 1961, including the Gateway Arch (1963-1965) in St. Louis and the main terminal of Washington Dulles International Airport (c.1958-1962) in Dulles, Virginia. In ’68 he partnered with another former Saarinen associate, John Dinkeloo. As partners, Roche and Dinkeloo designed One United Nations Plaza (1969-1976) and the Ford Foundation Building (1963-1968), both in Manhattan, The Pyramids (1967-1972) in Indianapolis, and the Knights of Columbus Building (c.1968-1969) in New Haven, Connecticut. The Power Center for the Performing Arts (1969-71) at E. Huron and Fletcher Street on the campus of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor is their contribution to Southeast Michigan’s architectural legacy.

John C Portman Jr - Renaissance Center 227. John C. Portman, Jr. (1924-present) – Portman gave Detroit the unquestioned centerpiece of it’s modern-day skyline: the Renaissance Center (1973-1977) at Jefferson Avenue and Brush Street, now also known as General Motors World Headquarters. Two other Portman designed buildings that bear a striking exterior similarity to Detroit’s GM/Renaissance Center stand in both downtown Los Angeles and downtown Atlanta: the Westin Bonaventure Hotel (1974-1976) and The Westin Peachtree Plaza Hotel (c.1974-1976), repsectively. The Renaissance Center’s complex interior appears to be somewhat reprised at Portman’s American Cancer Society Center (c.1988-1989) in Atlanta.

Neuhaus and Taylor - 3000 Town Center 128. Neuhaus & Taylor (J. Victor Neuhaus III 19??-????; B. Harwood Taylor 1927-1988) – This Houston-based firm which later became known as “3D/International” designed two of the five ultra-modern skyscrapers that make up Southfield’s “Town Center” district, 3000 (1975) and 4000 (1979) to be exact. Other designs of note by Neuhaus & Taylor include McElhinney Hall (1971) on the University of Houston campus, Bryan Tower (1973) in downtown Dallas, The Gold Building aka One Financial Plaza (1974) in Hartford, Connecticut, KBR Tower (1973) in downtown Houston, Centennial Tower (1975) in Atlanta [in collaboration with Cooper Carry & Associates], and One Moody Plaza aka American National Life Building (1972) in Galveston, Texas. Firm namesakes J. Victor Neuhaus III and B. Harwood Taylor built their early reputations on residential designs including B. Harwood Taylor’s own home (1958) in Houston.

Rockwell Group and Populous - Comerica Park 229 & 30. Rockwell Group (David Rockwell 1956-present) AND Populous formerly HOK Sport (founded 1983) – Along with the local firm SmithGroup, these two firms collaborated on the design of Comerica Park (1997-2000), the home of Major League Baseball’s 2012 American League Champion Detroit Tigers. Rockwell Group’s exhaustive roster of stunning commissions includes the JetBlue Terminal (2008) at New York’s JFK Airport, Cirque du Soleil Theater at Walt Disney World (1999) in Lake Buena Vista, Florida and the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center (2011), also in New York. Rockwell, the man, has also worked as a Hollywood set designer and produced much of the interior staging for the Academy Awards in 2009 and 2010. Both awards ceremonies were held at the the Dolby Theatre formerly known as Kodak Theatre (2001) in Los Angeles, a building also designed by Rockwell with the Oscars specifically in mind. Most impressive in our humble opinion, Rockwell designed a temporary viewing platform at Ground Zero in Manhattan soon after the infamous 9/11 terrorist attacks. Kansas City-based Populous also boasts an amazing array of mammoth projects, some collaborative, including the University of Phoenix Stadium (2003-2006) in Glendale, Arizona, Heinz Field (1999-2001) and PNC Park (1999-2001), both in Pittsburgh, Yankee Stadium (2006-2009) in The BronxLondon’s 2012 Olympic Stadium (2007-2011), the Sprint Center (2005-2007) in Kansas City, Aviva Stadium aka Landsdowne Road (2007-2010) in Dublin, Ireland, and the University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium (2006-2009) in Minneapolis.

Don’t forget to peruse our album of over 120 images below! [All photos by Dale Carlson except where otherwise noted.] If you feel an architect or two has been incorrectly omitted from this guide you may want to read our post entitled “Top 15 Best Architects in Detroit History“, published in our “Best Of Detroit” pages in July of 2011, as they are more than likely covered therein. ~I♥DM

John C Portman Jr - Renaissance Center 3

Dale Carlson

Dale Carlson grew up along the northeastern shores of Lake Michigan, where at a young age Detroit called out to him in his dreams. In 2008, after extended stays in ten different Michigan cities, the author settled permanently in southeast Oakland County where he currently lives and works in various capacities within the local real estate industry.

9 thoughts on “30 Famous Architects with Designs in Detroit

  1. You left out Minoru Yamasaki. He got his start in Metro Detroit and designed One Woodward Avenue, the annex to the Federal Reserve Building and the current Temple Beth El.

      1. Thanks for the comments PestiEsti and Jimsey! We couldn’t agree more with you about Yamasaki’s undeniable place in Detroit’s architecural history. However, we consider Yamasaki’s career to be so deeply intertwined with our fair city that we included him in an earlier post entitled “15 Best Architects in Detroit History”, published in July of 2011 in our “Best of Detroit” pages. In the coming year we plan to publish an update to this post entitled “20 More Essential Detroit Architects” so stayed tuned. Thanks for reading! D~

  2. Another great piece of work! I am an architect working on trying to redevelop the Highland Park McGregor Public LIbrary and have additional photos/resources if you are interested. We also have produced a 3D model of the exterior and interior lobby – see example attached.

    1. Thanks for reading, Abe! And thanks for the attachment. We’d absolutely LOVE to see more! Feel free to add more image attachments as comments here, and if you’d be interested in having a few of your shots added to the article, please feel free to email a handful to info@ilovedetroitmichigan.com. We will definitely give them a lot of consideration, and most likely publish a few of our favorites. We’re dying to see this gorgeous public library restored to its former glory, and at last occupied and in use. As that dream becomes reality, we’d love to be informed of further developments in the process, too!

  3. A few architects that I feel should be added are Eberle M. Smith, who was a renowned K thru 12 architect and designed so many of our schools throughout the state of Michigan. Ralph R. Calder for so many of the colleges and university buildings in Michigan and Smith, Hinchman and Grylls for so many research facilities for the Federal government.

  4. I was an architectural brick salesman in the Detroit area for 44 years and would nominate four projects that we supplied brick for that I consider outstanding. They are, and starting with already mentioned, Comerica Park, Fairlane Town Center, K-mart World Headquarters and Bethesda Missionary Church. I was a representative of the Glen Gery Corporation and these four projects used material supplied from Ohio, Plants. I would second the nomination, for Eberle M. Smith, and Smith Hinchman and Gryllls and Ralph Calder along with Seigal Tummala and Assoc. and T Jahr and Associates. I am now a poet and celebrated my 85th birthday Dec 5. 2015. Look for my story, A Legend of Santa and His Brother Fred.

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