From the art-deco inspired details to cathedral-like peaks, Detroit’s architecture weaves history with modernity for an unforgettable legacy and glittering skyline

IN THE AGE OF single-use plastics and Amazon Prime same-day delivery, there is something to be said about the legacy of time, and how the face of a city can be mapped on the buildings that rise from it. From the art-deco inspired details to cathedral-like peaks, from behemoth all-glass structures to the Roman-inspired sturdy stone, Detroit’s architecture weaves history with modernity for an unforgettable legacy and glittering skyline. 

With the revitalization and rebirth of many of Detroit’s oldest and most well-loved buildings, many of which remained desolate and deserted until recently, companies such as Bedrock Real Estate are not only rebuilding and repurposing these architectural city staples, they are also breathing new life into the city. By reinvesting in its community and people, as well as by creating jobs and opportunities for locals, they are driving tourism without compromising the original architectural beauty and the people of Detroit, who remain the steadfast heartbeat of the city.


bed rock building

Bedrock Real Estate purchased the 1920’s, Louis-Kamper-designed, 36-story tower, and neighbouring Book Building in 2015 with a lofty vision for the future. With a revitalization costing more than $300 million and spanning seven years to complete, the magnificent tower, which was the tallest building In Detroit upon opening in 1926, is now home to the ROOST hotel and residences. 

The hotel boasts fancy cocktail and dining options, a state-of-the-art fitness centre, and striking event space. The spectacular 3-storey lobby showcases a completely revitalised glass rotunda, with more than 6000 glass panels and 7000 skylight jewels, making it truly the heart and architectural centrepiece of the marvellously restored building. Architectural Digest even included The Book Tower in their “The World’s 11 Most Beautiful Repurposed Buildings” in May of 2023.


Elegantly poised at 500 Griswold Street in Detroit’s Financial District, the Guardian Building formerly known as the Union Trust Building, transcends mere architecture, embodying a timeless narrative of creativity and triumph. Crafted by the visionary Wirt C. Rowland and completed in 1929, this Class-A office building serves as a living testament to Detroit’s resilience and cultural richness. 

The Guardian Building

The Guardian Building, Detroit. 📷: @benechterling

The Guardian Building has been designated a National Historic Landmark, the most esteemed accolade bestowed by the National Park Service. Aptly known as the “cathedral of finance,” this iconic skyscraper is an emblem of 1920s capitalism, boldly showcasing art-deco aesthetics and a magnificent lobby that stands as a symbol of opulence and prosperity. Notably, the marble adorning its interiors is a luxurious travertine sourced from Italy, near Rome, underscoring the commitment to craftsmanship and quality. Amidst the intricacies of its design, a Tiffany’s clock stands as a timeless reminder of the building’s endurance through the trials of the Great Depression. The Guardian Building seamlessly fuses Aztec motifs with art-deco elements, creating an awe-inspiring ambiance that beckons visitors into a sanctuary of architectural brilliance.


Michigan Central Station stands as a testament to Detroit’s complex narrative of rise, fall, and resurgence, embodying the city’s intertwined fate with the automobile industry. The 18-storey architectural gem, with a 3-storey train depot, nestled in Corktown’s Roosevelt Park, was once the majestic gateway to the Motor City, proudly holding its status as one of the most splendid railway stops in the United States. Abandoned since Amtrak’s departure in 1988, the station recently found a new steward in the form of the forward-thinking Ford Motor Company in 2018.

Michigan Central Station

Photo: Michigan Central Station, Detroit.

This iconic structure, synonymous with Detroit’s gritty past and promising future, is in the final stages of undergoing a remarkable transformation into a multifaceted hub for Michigan Central. The grand waiting room, arcade and concourse will open as welcoming public spaces, inviting all to partake in the city’s rich history. The tower, witnessing the ebb and flow of Detroit’s fortunes, will be reborn as modern offices, ushering in a new era. 

The restoration project, scheduled for a phased approach with initial occupancy having just begun, promises a harmonious blend of community and event spaces, public art, ongoing programming, activations, and a curated selection of restaurants and retailers. Michigan Central Station, now poised for a renaissance, serves as a poignant reminder of Detroit’s resilience and its integral role in shaping the history and future of transportation.

Perhaps Detroit’s destiny is never to be revived to its “former glory,” but instead, to make a soulful shift, making space to cherish all that the city once was and embrace the potential of tomorrow, while maintaining the steady pulse of the city’s heart.

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