Detroit’s Penobscot Building – leapable in a single bound?
May 18, 2007
Narrator: Faster than a speeding bullet. More powerful than a locomotive. Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound… (more)
The plan was to do something on Detroit’s Penobscot Building next week or so … apparently Ted didn’t get the message. Ah well. It looks like May is Detroit Architecture Month on Michigan in Pictures.
The comprehensive Wikipedia entry on the Penobscot Building says:
Upon its completion, it was the eighth tallest building in the world and the tallest outside New York City and Chicago. Like many of the city’s other Roaring Twenties buildings, it displays Art Deco influences, including its “H” shape (designed to allow maximum sunlight into the building) and the sculptural setbacks that cause the upper floors to progressively “erode”. The building’s architect, Wirt C. Rowland, also designed such memorable Detroit skyscrapers as the Guardian Building in the same decade. At night, the building’s upper floors are dramatically lit in floodlight fashion, topped with a red sphere.
Although the Penobscot Building has more floors than Comerica Tower at Detroit Center (45 above-ground floors compared to Comerica Tower’s 43), Comerica’s floors and spires are taller, with its roof sitting roughly 60 feet taller than Penobscot’s (566′). The opulent Penobscot is one of many buildings in Detroit that features architectural sculpture by Corrado Parducci.
The Penobscot Building served as a “compass” for pilots in airplanes during its early years, due to its position of facing due north. The building also served as an inspiration of sorts for the Empire State Building in New York City, and many individuals worked on the construction of both towers.
The Penobscot Building web site says that the building serves as the fiber-optic hub for the entire Detroit area and touts it as the place for office space. You might also enjoy this slideshow of photos of the Penobscot on Flickr, the superman’s eye view of 645 Griswold Ave (Google satellite map), and – why not – a 3D model of the Penobscot Building for Google Sketchup.
To bring things full circle, here’s the intro to the 50s classic Adventures of Superman. Ted just let me know that the intro to Superman was voiced by Bill Kennedy of Bill Kennedy at the Movies fame (on CKLW and later WKBD). Also see this great Detroit News feature The Stars who turned Detroiters into couch potatoes.