One of Detroit's Most Sublime Art Objects Has Been Reborn

May 02, 2013, 7:40 AM

Wayne State University staged a rededication ceremony Wednesday for the focal point of its architectural wonderland -- the reflecting pools that were designed by renowned architect Minoru Yamasaki. 

The pools are once again filled with water, which, combined with the simple white surfaces, rocks, sculpture and the neighboring McGregor Memorial Conference Center, give the spot on the north end of campus a Zen-like peacefulness.

The pools had been empty since the late 1990s, when they were drained due to a damaged foundation. Last year, the university allocated $1.8 million for repairs to the concrete foundation, renovation of the plumbing and mechanics, and a new lighting scheme to enhance the drama of the pool at night.

The funds comes from donor gifts as well as campus enhancement and beautification funds. WSU alumna Carol Jonson also created an endowed fund to help support the upkeep of the pool and the surrounding sculpture court.

“The McGregor Building and its reflecting pools are a distinct part of an already beautiful campus,”  WSU President Allan Gilmour said in a statement. “Investing in this project is a wonderful way to honor the legacy of a great architect and the history of Wayne State at the same time.”

Yamasaki, best known for designing the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers, was one of the premier architects of the 20th Century, and he left a significant legacy at WSU. Between 1957 and 1964, he contributed four buildings: McGregor, the College of Education Building, the Meyer L. and Anna Prentis Building, and the Helen DeRoy Auditorium.

His signature style — tall, narrow windows, gothic-inspired arches and open ground-level areas, can be seen in each of the buildings, which sit next to other structures, such as the student center and college of pharmacy that are also striking in their design.

Among Yamasaki's other buildings are the former gas company headquarters at Woodward and Jefferson and Temple Beth El in Bloomfield Hills.

Historic images of the pools can be found by clicking here.

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