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A group of people in hardhats and yellow vests stand in the center of a gutted room. Above them is a large oval leaded-glass skylight.
The skylight on the 3rd floor of the Book Tower

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Photos: Take a rare look inside the Book Tower

Bedrock gave visitors a tour of the Italian Renaissance masterpiece this past weekend

The ornate Book Tower, designed by renowned architect Louis Kamper, is an impressive work of Italian Renaissance architecture. The ornamentation—in particular the columns, florets, and figures—on the exterior of the 38-floor building have been admired since it opened in 1926.

Anyone can see these details (though you might need binoculars to truly appreciate them). But few have seen the interior of the building since the last commercial tenant left in 2009.

As part of the Detroit Month of Design, Bedrock Detroit offered a rare glimpse inside the Book Tower and Building, leading a tour of more than 100 guests on Saturday, September 7.

Bedrock bought the building in 2015 and has been securing and cleaning it up since. Earlier this month, it announced ODA as the architecture lead for the redevelopment and released some preliminary design plans. It’s expected to cost $313 million and be finished in 2022.

Tour attendees were shown the first few floors, which will become a grand lobby with the skylight resurfaced; the 13th floor, which will be converted into residential units; and the 32nd floor, which will most likely be a hotel.

Take a look at some impressive photos from the tour.

A limestone archway with netting over it. Above, it reads “Book Building” in a Latin-esque script in all caps.
Entrance off Washington Boulevard to the Book Building.
An open doorway and a staircase. The ceiling has ornate design and light fixtures. There’s some graffiti written on a door that says “Exit No Enter.”
The stairway to the 2nd floor.
Marble columns positioned throughout an open space. There’s exposed steel beams next to ornate yellow and red panels on the ceiling.
A view of the 2nd floor.
A chandelier hangs from a rectangular ceiling panel with concentric frames of gold, green, and red. In the center, there’s a row of white figures.
Impressive details in a ceiling panel.
Ornate orange, green, and red ceiling panels. The paint on the panels is chipped and decayed.
Lots of work will be required to restore the Book Tower’s ornamental details.
The doorway frames to two adjacent elevators. There are painted floral designs on the door frames.
Decorative “elevators” on the 2nd floor. There’s only a hallway behind them.
A large open space with exposed concrete and beams. One wall has exposed red brick. There are orange construction cones situated on the floor in various places.
A view from another side of the 2nd floor.
A ceiling panel with two naked figures, man and woman, reaching for a vase with flowers. There’s floral frames around the image.
A closeup of some of the painted figures.
A large room with marble columns and an exposed beam ceiling. There’s a row of four elevators and a revolving door front entrance.
Real elevators and the front entrance.
A large, open room. Steel beams spaced evenly throughout a concrete floor with lots of exposed bricks.
The 32nd floor of the Book Tower.
An aerial view of downtown Detroit. There are many tall buildings and trees.
View from the 32nd floor.
A column in limestone with florets and scrolls. There’s some copper panelling next to it.
Details of a Corinthian column near the top of the Book Tower.
A person in yellow vest and hardhat walks down a narrow hallway. There’s several open doors along the marble walls.
A marble-lined hallway on the 13th floor. This floor will likely be converted to apartments.
A collage of covers with cities on them next to a vacant office door.
American Airlines posters outside a former office.
A large open room with red brick walls and steel beams on the ceiling.
Auditorium on the 13th floor.
A row of limestone sculptures on the outside of a building. The sculptures depict naked female figures in front of decorative flourishes.
Female figures on the exterior of the 13th floor.
A large skylight made of leaded glass windows with steel supporting beams. The skylight is dome shaped.
Closeup of the stunning 3rd-floor skylight.
A smaller building next to a tower, both made of stone. A long scaffolding goes up the scale of the tower.
Saying goodbye to the Book Tower and Building.
Michelle & Chris Gerard

Book Tower

1260 W. Washington Blvd., Detroit, Michigan 48226
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