Property: Student Services Building at MSU East Lansing
Photo by Daniel E. Hollman, AIA

This International Style building was designed by Detroit architect Ralph R. Calder in 1956, incorporating such style-defining features as flat roofs and smooth wall planes. Although the main entrance recalls the image of an airfoil, very little additional ornamentation is employed, as materials and colors compose the straightforward design. Limestone, fields of staggered Roman brick and ashlar planters provide a solid masonry foundation along the main elevation. Large expanses of plate glass, held in thin steel frames, are mounted above smaller windows that operate to allow for natural ventilation. Pastel yellow and green porcelain covered metal panels complete the composition.

Naturally, the building loads are not carried by the glass wall or its thin frames. Structural columns are set slightly back from the curtain wall at regular intervals along its length. The location of the columns is expressed on the building’s exterior, marked by limestone pilasters. Careful observers might note the actual columns, just within the building envelope.

This and two other campus buildings will be featured during a presentation at the upcoming MSU Science Festival. A span of 50 years divides one building from the next. The structural systems of each building reflect contemporary technologies and changing attitudes regarding architectural design.

“Eye candy of the Week” is our weekly look at some of the nicer properties in Lansing. It rotates each with Eyesore of the Week. If you have a suggestion, please e-mail eye@lansingcitypulse.com or call Berl Schwartz at 999-5061.

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