Fisher Building
For the Fisher Building in Chicago - see Fisher Building (Chicago). The Fisher Building (1928) is an ornate class-A skyscraper in the New Center area of Detroit, Michigan, United States constructed of limestone, granite, and marble. Financed by the Fisher family with proceeds from the sale of Fisher Body to General Motors, the structure was designed to house office and retail space. The building was designated a National Historic Landmark on June 29, 1989. The building also contains the 2,089 seat Fisher Theatre. The building houses the headquarters of Detroit Public Schools.

Architecture
Standing on the corner of West Grand Boulevard and Second Avenue in Detroit, Michigan, the Art Deco skyscraper lies in the heart of the New Center area of Detroit. The office building rises 30-stories with a roof height of 428 feet (130 m), a top floor height of 339 feet (103 m), and the spire reaching 444 feet (135 m). The building has 21 elevators. Designed by Albert Kahn and Associates with Joseph Nathaniel French as chief architect, it has been called Detroit's largest art object. and is widely considered Kahn's greatest achievement. The year of its construction, the Fisher building was honored by the Architectural League of New York as the year's most beautiful commercial structure. The opulent three-story barrel vaulted lobby is constructed with forty different kinds of marble, decorated by Hungarian artist Géza Maróti, and is highly regarded by architects. The sculpture on the exterior of the building was supplied by several sculptors including Maroti, Corrado Parducci, Anthony De Lorenzo and Ulysses Ricci.

History
Initially, Kahn planned for a complex of three buildings, with two 30-story structures flanking a middle 60-story tower. However, the Great Depression kept the project at one tower. The Fisher brothers constructed the building across from the General Motors Building (Now Cadillac Place). General Motors had recently purchased the Fisher Body Company. The two massive buildings spurred the development of a New Center for the city, a business district north of its downtown area.

Radio
The top of the building was gilt and topped with a radio antenna. One of the building's oldest tenants is radio station WJR, whose broadcasters often mention that their signals are broadcast "from the golden tower of the Fisher Building." Two other radio stations, WDVD-FM and WDRQ-FM, also broadcast from the building. On St. Patrick's Day, the golden tower is lit up with green light to celebrate the holiday instead of the traditional orange color. In recent years, to celebrate the NHL playoffs, the tower is lit with red light in honor of the Detroit Red Wings.

Theatre
The building also is home to the Fisher Theatre, one of Detroit's oldest live theatre venues. The theatre originally featured a lavish Aztec-themed interior in the Mayan Revival style, and once had Mexican-Indian art and banana trees and live macaws that its patrons could feed. After the Depression, the theatre operated primarily as a movie house until 1961. Originally with 3,500 seats, the interior was renovated with a 2,089-seat theatre that allowed for more spacious seating for patrons. The decor was changed to a more simple mid-century design (which some feel is now far more "dated" in appearance than the grandiose art deco foyer). The Fisher Theatre is owned and operated by the Nederlander Organization and now primarily features travelling productions of Broadway shows.

Art
Befitting to the Fisher Building's history in association with art, there have been three nationally recognized Fine Art Galleries that have been located in the structure including the Gertrude Kasle Gallery and London Fine Arts Group.
  • Gertrude Kasle Gallery: Located in Suite 310 of the Fisher Building from 1965-1976 was a nationally recognized Fine Art Gallery hosting exhibits for some of the most highly respected artists of the second half of the 20th century including Willem de Kooning, Jim Dine, Helen Frankenthaler, Robert Goodnough, Adolph Gottlieb, Phillip Guston, Grace Hartigan, Ian Hornak, Ray Johnson, Robert Motherwell, Lowell Nesbitt, Claes Oldenburg, Robert Rauschenberg and Jack Tworkov.
  • London Arts Group: Located in a large portion of the third floor of the Fisher Building during the 1970s and 1980’s, London Fine Arts Group acted as an internationally recognized publishing company assisting in producing limited edition art works for many internationally recognized artists including Yaacov Agam, Karel Appel, Arman, Romare Bearden, Gene Davis, Don Eddy, Alberto Giacometti, Ian Hornak, Lester Johnson, Alex Katz, Richard Lindner, Roberto Matta, Lowell Nesbitt, Robert Rauschenberg, Donald Sultan, Victor Vasarely and Larry Zox.


Tenants
Detroit Public Schools has its headquarters in the Fisher Building. The district paid the owner of the Fisher Building $24.1 million in 2002 so the district could occupy five floors in the building. This was more than the owner of the Fisher Building paid to buy the building one year earlier. The district's emergency financial manager, Robert Bobb, said in 2009 that he was investigating how the school board agreed to the lease in the Fisher Building. Reginald Turner, who served on Detroit School Board from 2000 to 2003, said that he was told that it would be less expensive to occupy the Fisher Building than it would to remodel the Maccabees Building, the Midtown Detroit building where the district previously had its headquarters.

Building Activity

  • updated a digital reference
    about 5 years ago via Annotator
  • updated a digital reference
    about 5 years ago via OpenBuildings.com