AT&T Building

Att Building
  1. About the AT&T Building in Detroit
  2. Architect and team
  3. Architectural style
  4. Spaces and uses
  5. Structure and materials

The AT&T Building is an Art-deco skyscraper designed by Smith, Hinchman & Grylls and built between 1912 and 1928 in Detroit, MI.

AT&T Building 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 AT&T Building is also known, or has been known as, Michigan Bell Building, SBC Building, or Ameritech Building.

Its precise street address is 1365 Cass Avenue, Detroit, MI. You can also find it on the map here.

The building underwent a major restoration between 1927 and 1928. The architect commissioned to undertake this restoration was Stmith, Hinchman & Grylls.

Building's timeline

Construction begins
1912
112
a
Restoration
1928
96
years ago
2024
  1. 1927 to 1928 - 12 floors were added to the building. The architect in charge was Stmith, Hinchman & Grylls.

Architect and team

Smith, Hinchman & Grylls was the architecture firm in charge of the architectural design. But there was also one other architect involved, as far as we know. We are talking about Wirt C. Rowland.

The firm was founded in 1853 and under their new name “SMITHGROUP” is the oldest architecture and engineering firm still operating in the US.

During its early days, it played a significant role in shaping the architectural landscape of the city of Detroit, and theirs are some of the city’s most iconic buildings, many of their buildings have been designated as historic landmarks, becoming part of the city’s identity.

Their initial work took inspiration from the Beaux-Arts and other revival movements, however, they were quick to evolve into Art-deco and modernism when those movements were still young, and later on into sustainable design and new technological advances.

Over more than a century of activity, their designs aren’t limited to Detroit anymore, and you can find their buildings all over the country.

Smith Hinchman Grylls

Smith, Hinchman & Grylls and the other architects already mentioned were in charge of the architectural design, however, architecture is a complex discipline involving many professionals from different fields, without whom this building would have not been possible. We will surely be leaving out a lot of names here, but at the very least we know that there was one other part involved, that was Pontiac Construction and H.G. Christman-Burke Co as the Main Contractor.

Architectural Style

The AT&T Building can be categorized as an Art-deco building.

The Art Deco movement flourished during the 1920s and 1930s, with many historians marking the outbreak of World War II as its final decline. Even though a couple of decades might not seem as much, the Art Deco movement had a great impact on architecture, and it's widely represented in many American cities due to the development boom that happened during that time.

Art Deco marked the abandonment of traditional historicism and the embracement of modern living and the age of the machine. In architecture, that meant leaving behind the ornaments of Beux-Arts and Neo-Gothic buildings and instead favoring simplicity and visual impact through geometric shapes, clean lines, and symmetrical designs. Ornaments were still an important part of the design, but they became bold and lavish, and were often inspired by ancient cultures or industrial imagery, instead of nature.

The AT&T Building was completed in 1928, right when the Art Deco movement was at its peak, so it kind of went with the trend at that time.

Spaces & Uses

The AT&T Building reaches an architectural height of 318ft (97m), 387ft (118m) if you count the antenna. It has a total of 19 floors.

Ever since opening its doors to the public in 1928, the AT&T Building has mainly been used as Commercial space.

387ft (118m)
318ft (97m)

Materials & Structure

From an aesthetic point of view, the facade features a light-colored limestone cladding on the first three floors, and dark-colored briks from there on. The light limestone reapears on the 8th floor to empathise the junction of the first and second structure, and the again on the last floor. Brick pillars every two windows continue all the way to the top of the building, ending in a sem-circled arch. The sloping roof is covered with patinated copper plates.