401 S. Capitol Ave. – Lansing Public Library
The patterned cladding on this building, which serves as the downtown branch of the Capital Area District Libraries, brightens the streetscape a few blocks south of the Capitol. The rounded entrance lobby, located at the north end of the ground level, sits shadowed beneath a deep cantilevered canopy. Rising two additional floors above the ground floor, the upper levels are clad in precast white concrete panels with exposed quartz aggregate. The panels are imprinted with the trademark emblems — called ‘colophons’ — of several well-known book publishers.
Designed by Lansing-based architect Kenneth C. Black, construction of the building was completed in 1964. In all, the building’s Mid-century details offer a softer version of the International Modernism popular earlier in the century. This seems altogether fitting, given Black’s apparently dim view of modern development patterns. He was an early skeptic of the artificiality of post-war suburban development and he encouraged his colleagues to renew their focus on urban centers.
Black graduated from the University of Michigan, where he had studied under the guidance of Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen. In 1930, he joined the Lansing firm founded by his father and he was elevated to Fellowship in the American Institute of Architects in 1952
“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 firstname.lastname@example.org or call Berl Schwartz at 999-5061.