211 West Fort Street

211 West Fort Street
  1. About the 211 West Fort Street in Detroit
  2. Architect and team
  3. Architectural style
  4. Spaces and uses
  5. Structure and materials

The 211 West Fort Street is an International Style skyscraper designed by Harley, Ellington, Cowin & Stirton and built between 1961 and 1963 in Detroit, MI.

211 West Fort Street is not the only name you might know this building by though. It is common for companies to want to attach their names to iconic buildings when they move in, or for the general public to come up with nicknames, and this one is no exception. The 211 West Fort Street is also known, or has been known as, Comerica Building , or Detroit Bank & Trust Building.

Its precise street address is 211 West Fort Street, Detroit, MI. You can also find it on the map here.

The 8th and 27th levels are reserved as mechanical floors, with the 27th floor also serving as a cooling tower. At night, these two floors illuminate, and have become a landmark of the city's skyline .

Building's timeline

Construction begins
Construction completed
years ago

Architect and team

Harley, Ellington, Cowin & Stirton was the architecture firm in charge of the architectural design.

Architectural Style

The 211 West Fort Street can be categorized as an International Style building.

The international style originated in Europe in the early 20th century, and made its way to the US a couple of decades later when the rise of the Nazi regime forced figures such as Walter Gropius, Marcel Breuer, or Mies van der Rohe to flee Europe.

The International Style emerged as a response to the prevailing historicism and ornate architecture styles of the late 19th century, which according to a younger generation of architects didn't represent the new materials and construction techniques that were on the rise at the time.

Architecture in the early 20th century US was marked by the adoption of steel structures, modern construction techniques, and the rise of the skyscraper. As it turns out, this combination of circumstances created the perfect ecosystem for the International Style to flourish, becoming the to-go style for skyscraper designs during the mid-20th century, when American cities were growing fast.

The International Style’s legacy can not only be found in numerous iconic buildings across all major American cities, but also incorporated in contemporary architecture, which still puts a big emphasis on functionality and minimalism.

The 211 West Fort Street was completed in 1963. By 1963 the International Style movement had already left its early days behind and could be considered a mature movement, which does not mean it was loved and accepted by everyone, on the contrary. The International Style was accepted by the architecture community way before it was by the general public, and it is therefore likely that the 211 West Fort Street was not well received by everyone at the time.

Spaces & Uses

The 211 West Fort Street reaches an architectural height of 367ft (112m), with the last accesible floor being 358ft (109m) off the gorund. It has a total of 29 floors, 27 above ground and 2 basements, served by 14 elevators.

The building sits on a 562,026 sqf (52,214m2) piece of land , and offers a total of 438,640 sqf (40,751m2) of usable space.

Ever since opening its doors to the public in 1963, the 211 West Fort Street has mainly been used as Commercial space.

367ft (112m)
358ft (109m)
2 basements

Materials & Structure

The 211 West Fort Street uses a frame structure made of columns and concrete slabs.

A frame structure uses a combination of beams and columns to sustain the building's weight. The walls in this case are non-load bearing, which allows for more flexibility when distributing the interior spaces.

From an aesthetic point of view, the facade features tinted glass floor-to-ceiling windows and prefabricated concrete frames that create a grid pattern on the building's facades.

At ground level, the building rises above concrete pilotis, resulting in an embedded glass-wrapped two-story lobby. Along the main entrance on Fort Street, the building has a plaza with a reflecting pool.

Other materials found at the 211 West Fort Street include, black granite, used in the elevators, and travertino, found in the lobby.