Near the southern terminus of Woodward Avenue is the Guardian Building, originally named the Union Trust Building. While Chicago certainly has its own collection of Art-Deco skyscrapers, Detroit blows it and other American cities away with its shear exuberance. The Guardian Building is a case in point.
It is a slender building, recalling the Raymond Hood-designed Rockefeller Center. The simple reason here of course, is the small block created by Augustus Woodward’s urban plan.
Designed by Wirt C. Rowland of the firm of Smith Hinchman & Grylls, the building was completed in 1929, which of course was lucky because we all know the stock market crashed that year.
The bays alternate with pairs of blank spandrels with pairs of dynamic Art-Deco designs, giving visual interest that draws the eyes upward.
The front entrance portals and the first several floors are exploding with an almost Moorish exuberance.
They are almost Sumerian in appearance, which is also common in the Art-Deco, as designs look far back in history for geometric, repeating motifs.
The elevator lobby, which you can see in color at the building’s official website above, continues that sense of optimism and explosion of geometry.