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Your Location: World North America U.S.A. Michigan Detroit Guardian Building

Guardian Building


Guardian Building
Union Trust Company Building


Structure in General

existing [completed]
ceramic tile
applied masonry
dark orange
Art Deco


commercial office
shop(s) service branch(es) restaurant


  • Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1989, the Guardian Building was designed by Wirt C. Rowland of the leading Detroit architecture firm Smith, Hinchman & Grylls.
  • Termed a "cathedral of commerce" and "one of the most exuberant Art Deco skyscrapers built in America," the Guardian Building was built for what was at the time Detroit's leading financial institution.
  • The cathedral theme is emphasized on the exterior by the two towers at each end of the building connected by a somewhat lower navelike block. The theme is played out in the interior with the tall banking lobby designed as a nave with side aisles.
  • A specially formulated orange brick, known as Guardian brick, clads the steel frame. Brilliantly colored terra-cotta, glazed tile, and gold-stained glass and metal decorate it inside and out.
  • The Guardian Building was the world's tallest masonry structure when it was completed.
  • This Art Deco piece is marked by American Indian and Aztec motifs.
  • The south tower roof lies at 423'-10" above street level, plus 9'-8" to the structural top.
  • The main roof at the 36th floors lies 396'-10" above street level, plus 4'-4.25" to the parapet wall.
  • The north tower roof lies 482'-0" above street level, plus 13'-6" to the structural top.
  • The flagpole rises 150'-0" from the north tower roof, making the tip height 632'-0".
  • On the 32nd floor lies the Guardian Club Banquet Hall/Auditorium, which serves as a small conference center for up to 300 people.

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More Information


500-548 Griswold Street
500 Griswold Street

Technical Data

632.01 ft
495.51 ft
482.01 ft
396.83 ft

Involved Companies


Also recorded for this building:

facade supplier, general contractor, property management, steel supplier, tenant

Features & Amenities

  • One of the city's famous buildings
  • National landmark