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Allan

Detroit from the 32nd Floor

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Ok, so I lied. We aren't going to the 32nd floor just yet. I went to downtown Detroit for the second time this week. I was dodging the snowstorm that is making its way across the country, so I only had a few hours in which to take some photos before the snow started falling again. My plans for the day fell apart once I got to the city, so I headed to the Guardian Building.

The Guardian Building was completed in 1929, and was designed by Detroit architect Wirt Rowland, of Smith, Hinchman, and Grylls. At 489 feet tall (149 meters), the building was the tallest masonary building in the world when it was completed. The exterior is constructed out of brick especially formulated for the building, known as "Guardian Brick." The building has a limestone base, with colorful Pewabic tile accents. The building was dubbed the "Cathedral of Commerce" because of its detailing.

We start our tour on the retail promenade. When the building was the headquarters for the Union Trust Bank, this was where the teller windows were located. Today shops exist where the teller windows once were.

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American Indian and Aztec themes run throughout the building.

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Now that we've gotten the obligatory shots of the lobby out of the way, we go downstairs, where the bank vaults once were. The basement is set up as a restaurant, which will hopefully reopen in the future.

The door to a bank vault. Something tells me it would be awfully hard to break into.

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If you got that door open, you then have to open this one too.

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The inside of the vault

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The second door to the vault.

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A grate from an old teller window upstairs. The grates were used in the war effort in the 1940s, but this is one of three that were lost at the time and found later. Today all three hang on the wall in the basement.

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The safe deposit boxes.

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The entrance to the now closed Aztec Cafe

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Pewabic tiles on the wall

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Next it was on to the 32nd floor. The building has 40 floors, but 32 was as high as I could get. But hey, I'm not going to complain. The 32nd floor is used as a conference room, known as the Guardian Club.

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Now for the views. :)

Looking downriver

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The Buhl Building

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Continue on to Part Two

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That plastic sign is really ugly! I hope when the restaurant reopens that they will install a nicer sign that compliments that building's architecture.

As for the future, the building will remain office space, with the first floor retail promenade. Just last summer the building's occupancy rate dropped to 4%. There was talk of converting the upper floors to residential units, but the occupancy rate is currently between 40 & 50%, so I do not know if that is an option they are still considering.

One thing to look forward to is a night lighting scheme, since it is currently just a black hole at night. I've heard that it will be installed in February.

http://www.guardianbuilding.com/

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Even notice the vault door has some art deco detailing, interesting!

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LOL, yeah. They really paid attention to every last detail. I do wonder how think the ceiling of the vault is though...it's probably at least 3 feet thick!

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I love art deco, I would imagine one could throw a great party there if they allow that sort of thing.

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The art deco style of this building gives it a historicial feeling. :)

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That's because it is historic. ;) The building turned 75 years old last year.

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Finally had the chance to take the full tour of the Guardian Building yesterday! This building is a gem and has SO MUCH freekin' potential!!!! Occupancy is now up to 50% (up from just 4% in the not-so-distant past). I asked if I could see one of the vacant floors that had the old original wooden-paneled offices. Yep! They're still there but will be demolished if/when a new tenant comes along and remodels. If the new tenant is smart, they will design their new office around the existing (old) design. Took lots of pictures, but most look like what Allan posted previously. Get down here and see this GEM before they fill up and no longer offer personal tours.

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Please let me know how to get the personal tour. Do you talk to the doorman about this? I would really like to take a tour, but I would have to do it on the weekends because of work. Is this even possible? I've seen the lobby and the basement, but never anything else.

Details please!

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I've been waiting for a sunny day before I go take a tour again. The problem is that there's not many of those this time of year. Haha. I'm glad that the building's occupancy rate is growing though. It's hard to keep tenants in the older buildings. I know that Penobscot has an 85% occupancy rate...I'm not sure about the other buildings.

In fact, I was checking out the Guardian's website last night, and it is finally finished. You can check it out at http://www.guardianbuilding.com/.

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Please let me know how to get the personal tour.  Do you talk to the doorman about this? I would really like to take a tour, but I would have to do it on the weekends because of work.  Is this even possible?  I've seen the lobby and the basement, but never anything else.

Details please!

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All you do is ask the doorman. You might have to wait around a while for him, however. The only problem is that I don't think he works on weekends. When I go downtown on Saturday I'll look and see if he's around.

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