Designing Detroit: Wirt Rowland and the Rise of Modern American Architecture

Designing Detroit: Wirt Rowland and the Rise of Modern American Architecture

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Wirt Rowland, designer of the world-famous Guardian Building, was one of the twentieth century’s most influential architects. New York City’s iconic Chrysler Building, for example, would look much different were it not for Rowland’s direct influence on its final design. Rowland pioneered design features now recognized as Art Deco standards: bright colors, geometric ornaments, stepped arches, and aluminum and stainless steel in place of brass. Despite his significant contributions, Rowland is only now beginning to receive the recognition he deserves.

 Designing Detroit: Wirt Rowland and the Rise of Modern American Architecture begins with a brief overview of Rowland’s early life and career. Author Michael G. Smith goes on to analyze Rowland’s achievements in building design and as a leader of Detroit’s architectural community throughout both World Wars and the Great Depression. The interdependence of architecture with the city’s fluctuating economic prosperity and population growth is explored, illuminating the conditions for good architecture and the arts in general.

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