Among Detroit’s many architectural landmarks, the Guardian Building in downtown may be the most impressive. Dubbed the “Cathedral of Finance,” this 90-year-old structure features a 150-foot vault ceiling, a two-sided Tiffany clock, and a huge mural of the state of Michigan.
Designed by architect Wirt C. Rowland for the Union Trust Company, the building opened in 1929 as the tallest masonry structure in the world at that time, requiring a 72-caisson foundation drilled right into Detroit bedrock to keep it standing. Towering 40 stories high, the facade alone consists of 1.8 million orange bricks that were made exclusively for the Guardian (they were even called “Guardian bricks”).
The intricacy of the interior, however, may be the structure’s highlight. Pink granite, Mankato stone, Italian Travertine, and Numidian marble cover the walls and floors, while colorful pottery tiles, featuring Aztec and American Indian designs, adorn the ceiling in the lobby.
The Guardian Building became a National Landmark in 1989, it continues to amaze and inspire visitors.