Get Inspired by Motown’s Most Celebrated Designs


Detroit is a city famed for its industrial landscape and designs. In 2015 it was given the title of a UNESCO Creative Cities Network City of Design, the only American city to be given the prestigious title. Its incredible variety of buildings, from 1800’s factories to 1980’s skyscrapers help its ability to inspire design fanatics of all ages. If you want some inspiration, then look no further than Motown’s masterpieces below.

State Savings Bank

The State Savings Bank was built in 1900 and served as a State Savings Bank for 80 years. After it retired from its original intended purpose, investors wanted to use its beautiful but worn-out space for pop-up events. As a result, veteran architects Neumann Smith brought the building back to life (which you can see on They illuminated the space and used mimics and preservations to keep the character of the bank. It’s beautifully detailed high ceilings, and incredible use of marble create a timeless design sure to inspire any fan of neoclassicism.

Belle Isle

Built in 1904 by Albert Kahn and some help from Frederick Law Olmsted (widely considered to be the father of American landscape architecture), the conservatory and aquarium of Belle Isle is undoubtedly stunning. It consists of the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory, the James Scott Memorial Fountain, Nature Zoo, and many more. The aquarium has just reopened after being shut in 2005 and seeing a picture of its stunning green-tiled viewing corridor will make you want to book a ticket to Michigan.

The Freemason’s Temple

Built by George D. Mason in 1926, this temple is a neo-gothic beauty, the largest Masonic temple in the world, and is still an active place of Masonic activity. It opens itself up on Halloween for one of the most renowned Halloween fests in the United States. Their theatre will mesmerize anybody with hundreds of deep-red seats arranged in a semi-circle topped-off with a beautifully ornate ceiling. It’s also got a reputation for being haunted.

The Renaissance Center

The Renaissance Center is a post-modern wonder. Built in 1981 by John Portman, it has been compared to an aesthetic fortress or a James Bond Villain’s Lair depending on who you talk to. It consists of 7 skyscrapers that are all interconnected, one of which was the tallest restaurant in the Western hemisphere at the time. It has been renovated recently to create an indoor glass room that looks over the river and connects to the General Motor sponsored Riverwalk. It’s become an integral part of Detroit’s skyline and gives the city a retro-futuristic feel.

The Guardian Building

A 1920’s gem, the Guardian Building was completed in 1929 and built by Wirt C. Rowland. It’s a skyscraper with 40 floors and is a national historic landmark. It is inescapably art deco on the outside (with limestone and terra cotta), but with Native American influence in the form of a colorful mosaic on the interior. It has a three-story lobby with marble taken from different locations in Europe and Africa. It is the staple of Detroit’s weekend architecture tours, and when you catch a glimpse, you can understand why.


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