Special thanks to Cindy Krolikowski, Sandra Martin, and especially Alison Stankrauff for their help filling in some informational gaps during my preparation of this timeline. Something missing? Anything look incorrect or out-of-place? Feel free to contact me and let me know.
Selector: Clayton Hayes
Did you know that Wayne State students used to register for classes in an old car dealership? That our first student center was a repurposed apartment hotel? That the first building constructed specifically for Wayne State wasn't built until 1948, and was designed by an Armenian immigrant?
Did you know that one of the sculptors whose work is installed on campus also designed a set of doors for the Vatican? That the "Fantastic Four" were originally part of Detroit's old city hall? That a chair of the Art and Art History Department founded one of Cass Corridor's most well-known cooperative galleries?
This subject of the month encourages you to explore the history of Wayne State University through its architecture and public art, and to discover the answer to the question: How did this campus end up looking the way it did, anyway?
Selected works from the WSU art collection with an introduction by Irvin D. Reid, the WSU President at the time of its publication in 2004.
An earlier edition of the above book, which explores a slightly different set of art objects for the WSU Art Collection.
A catalog for an exhibition at the University Art Gallery, Central Michigan University (Jan.10-Feb. 9, 2013) and the University Gallery, Eastern Michigan University (Mar. 11-Apr. 28, 2013).
Though this book looks broadly at all of Detroit, there is a fair amount of representation of works on WSU's campus.
This ebook covers a wide range of art projects in Detroit, including some (like DLECTRICITY) that occur at or near WSU. It also features a profile of Katie Yamasaki, the granddaughter of noted WSU-affiliated architect Minoru Yamasaki.
Detroit Focus Quarterly was published Detroit Focus, a non-profit arts organization that supports art and artists in the Detroit area, and ran from 1982 to 1998. It includes interviews with artists, articles about the art scene and current issues, and listings of art exhibits. Several local artists who have sculptures installed on campus were involved in Detroit Focus in one capacity or another, including David Barr, Sergio de Giusti, Robert Sestok, and G. Alden Smith.
The Cass Corridor Documentation Project includes a series of oral histories, recorded in 2011, of individuals involved in or related to the Cass Corridor art community. One interviewee was Robert Sestok, the artist behind Free Form 5 (2001), the sculpture on Cass near the Hilberry Theatre.
This architectural guidebook provides information on many notable WSU buildings and architects, as well as buildings in the nearby area.
The 1980 edition of the AIA architectural guidebook for Detroit provides includes a few notable WSU buildings that are not included in the 2003 edition.
One of the most comprehensive guides to Detroit's buildings, providing photographs and historical information on both commercial and residential structures of note.
This serves as a compilation of the works of Albert Kahn, not only in Detroit, but across Michigan and the rest of the world. It provides floor plans and blueprints for several of Kahn's buildings, along with some biographical information for context.
This book provides information on the Detroit buildings of famed architect Minoru Yamasaki, along with profiling the architect himself.
This autobiographical book by Yamasaki describes his life and architectural pursuits, including his time spent designing buildings for WSU.
A history of both WSU and its campus told through photographs, many of which are taken from the WSU Buildings collection linked elsewhere on the guide..
A description of WSU's history, as told by various faculty and staff at WSU. Though published in 2000, the information contained within cover a good chunk of the university's history.
A celebration of WSU's history, published for its centennial celebration in 1968.
Published by the department itself, this short book includes photographs and information on the history of WSU's art education program.
This book on Charles Lang Freer and his art collection includes information on the Freer and Hecker houses, as well as Freer's Whistler collection and the Peacock Room.
Have questions about archival collections related to WSU's history? Speak to Alison Stankrauff, our University Archivist.
This exhibit, prepared as part of the sesquicentennial, highlights the university's architectural history and includes prints of some images seen on this guide. It runs through Fall of 2018.
The papers of Minoru Yamasaki include correspondence regarding projects, as well as early architectural drawings, speeches and writings, photographs, awards and doctoral degrees, scrapbooks detailing the progress of his career, and various publications.
The collection of photographs is largely the output of communications, community, and university relations work conducted under the auspices of the University Relations Division. Depicted are activities, events, and places on or around the university's Detroit campus as well as the people associated with its academic and administrative functions. A portion of this collection has been digitized, and is available via the WSU Buildings digital collection.
The WSU Buildings Vertical Files contain press releases, newspaper clippings, excerpts from Board of Governors meetings, and other sources of information on the buildings on WSU's campus, both past and present. These vertical files are available in the Reuther's reading room, and were essential to the creation of the above timeline.
Historic Detroit's tagline aptly describes their mission: "Every building in Detroit has a story - we're here to share it." Founded by writer and photographer Dan Austin, the site contains a wealth of information on Detroit's physical spaces, both past and present.
A digitized portion of the Reuther Library's University Photograph Collection, the WSU Buildings Collection included are both exteriors and interiors of Wayne State's buildings, past and present, including classrooms, auditoriums, housing, and more. More photos of WSU buildings can also be found in the Virtual Motor City collection.
The Wayne State University Yamasaki Legacy project provides information and contextualization on renowned architect Minoru Yamasaki. It examines his designs on the WSU campus, as well as discussion his global influence.
On May 18, in 1868, Wayne State University was officially founded as the Detroit Medical College. The first academic term began on Nov. 3, 1868. On April 22, 1956, the Michigan Legislature adopted Act 183 “to establish and regulate a state institution of higher learning to be known as Wayne State University.”
Throughout 2018, the WSU Libraries invite you to join us as we celebrate our University's rich history and sesquicentennial. The official celebration period will run from Jan. 1, 2018 to Nov. 1, 2018. In addition to the Subject of the Month displays, please check the University Calendar for Special Events and Exhibits.
Suren Pilafian was born in 1910 in Izmir, Turkey to Armenian parents. They immigrated to New York while he was still young and, at 18 years old, began working as a draftsman for Cass Gilbert. Gilbert was an established architect, having just opened his New York Life Building in 1928, and had notably designed the main branch of the Detroit Public Library. Starting in 1935, Pilafian spent a few years working independently in Tehran, Iran, before coming back to the U.S.
Pilafian bounced between positions at a few architectural firms before establishing his own firm and winning a 1942 design contest for the master plan of Wayne State's campus. His buildings, State Hall, the Engineering Building, the Purdy-Kresge Library complex, and the Community Arts building, helped to establish the architectural aesthetic for WSU's campus. Pilafian continued to work independently in the Detroit area for several years before joining Albert Kahn Associates as a head designer; he passed away in 1988.
Minoru Yamasaki was born in 1912 in Seattle, Washington to Japanese parents. He studied architecture at the University of Washington while working at a cannery in Alaska over the summers to pay his tuition. In 1945, he joined the prestigious Detroit architecture firm of Smith, Hinchman, & Grylls as their head of design before forming the firm of Leinweber, Yamasaki, & Hellmuth in 1949, later just Leinweber & Yamasaki.
Yamasaki formed Yamasaki and Associates in 1957 during the construction of the McGregor Memorial Conference Center, and it was his work at Wayne State and the surrounding Detroit area that elevated him to national and international renown. Perhaps best known in the U.S. for his work on the World Trade Center in New York, Yamasaki died in 1986 and his firm closed in 2010.
The "Fantastic Four," as they have come to be called, are four statues of prominent figures in the early history of Detroit:
Julius Melchers, a German sculptor who studied at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, carved these figures in limestone for installation in Detroit's City Hall around 1885. The statues were placed in niches on the exterior of the building's second story.
In 1955, City Hall operations moved to the new City-County Building (now the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center) on Jefferson, and the old City Hall was slated for demolition. Thankfully, the statues were saved and put in storage before the building came down in 1961. Detroit's Common Council gifted the statues to Wayne State University in the early 1970s, and they were placed in the green space nearby General Lectures and St. Andrew's. Three of the four faced east, towards Anthony Wayne Drive, but Cadillac was situated facing south, towards the Detroit river.
The Anthony Wayne Drive Apartments, announced in 2016, necessitated moving the statues to another location. A square was quickly built on the south side of the Faculty/Administration Building, and the four statues were settled into their new home just before Fall Semester 2016. A time-lapse video, along with more information, is available from the WSU newsroom.
To keep up with library events and happenings, follow us on:
The Wayne State University Press is a distinctive urban publisher committed to supporting the core research, teaching, and service mission of WSU by generating high-quality scholarly and general-interest books of global importance.
Through its publishing program, the Press disseminates research, advances education, and serves the local community while expanding the international reputation of the Press and the University.