Guardian Building

Buildings of Detroit

Building Information

Street Address: 500 Griswold Street
Year Built:
Architect: , ,


Guardian BuildingThe Guardian Building, a National Historic Landmark, is a skyscraper in downtown Detroit, Michigan. Built in 1928 and finished in 1929, the building (originally called the Union Trust Building) is a bold example of Art Deco architecture, including some art moderne designs. Covering an entire city block, the main frame of the skyscraper rises 36 stories, capped by two asymmetric spires, one extending for four additional stories. The height of the building is 489 feet (149 m). The exterior blends brickwork with tile, limestone, and terra cotta. Nicknamed the “Cathedral of Finance,” the building’s interior is lavishly decorated with mosaic and Pewabic and Rookwood tile. Native American themes are common inside and outside the building. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places and has undergone recent award-winning renovations. Wirt C. Rowland, of the Smith Hinchman & Grylls firm, was the building’s architect while Corrado Parducci created the two sculptures flanking the Griswold Street entrance. During World War II, the Guardian Building served as headquarters for war time production; Detroit was called the “Arsenal of Democracy.”

The building was purchased by Sterling Group in 2004. Under the Group’s watch, the Guardian’s office occupancy rate has nearly doubled, its promenade has been opened to the public for the first time in decades, and the building now has a doorman. Since this time the building has received exterior lighting accents at night and a new entrance canopy.  At the top of the Guardian Building’s spire, is a huge American Flag, similar to the four smaller flags sitting atop nearby 150 West Jefferson.

1 Comment

  1. Ben Gravel

    There is evidence that Rowland was not as involved with the design as the current history tells us. A 1929 issue of the Michigan Architect lists SHG as the architects of record with Donaldson & Meier as consulting architects. Several issues of Michigan Architect and Engineer over a couple years has both SHG and D&M asking for bids. Surprisingly the bids are for different parts of the project and never the same project.


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