David C Hollister Lansing City Hall Lansing
While diverse opinions have been offered about this building recently, few can deny that it stands as a superb example of Mid-Century Modernism. The main nine story tower block is clad in a green glass and spandrelpaneled curtain wall, which delineate the structural bays and the upper floor levels. The tower’s east elevation is cleanly clad in limestone, accented with punched window openings. Leonard Jungwirth’s carved representation of the city seal is sculpted at the tower’s base.
The building, built in 1956, was designed by Lansing architectural firm of Lee and Kenneth Black, replacing an equally notable Richardsonian Romanesque city hall. The latter building was designed by Edwyn Bowd, the Lansing architectural giant of an earlier era.
Regardless of the fate of this building, we should remain mindful of one lesson of its history. The building that this building replaced was considered outdated and ugly. A contemporary report on the earlier building admonished its “slovenly” appearance. A brief web search will confirm that the former building would now be considered handsome and irreplaceable.
The condition of the current city hall may be questionable and its repair costs high, but perhaps its detractors are too close to offer fair judgment of its actual value.
“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.