Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Ignorance is bliss

The federal building, with its windowless walls, is the ugliest building in Ann Arbor. That's not so bad. What really gets you is what they tore down to make the parking lot for this monstrosity. Follow the link at your own risk.

Photo credit: Phil Dokas


  1. Soooo depressing! Excellent research, though. I don't think I've ever seen an attractive federal building, by the way... I used to work at the McNamara building in downtown Detroit which was even uglier.

  2. I recognize that photo! Do check out the comment thread at it on Flickr though, Wystan Stevens and others dropped a ton of further info on everything.

    But man. We dropped an awesome Masonic temple for this? Egads.

  3. I just found out about it yesterday. It's kind of a downer.

  4. Sadly, there are numerous similar stories in Ann Arbor. The current County building at Main and Huron replaced a classic Victorian courthouse with clock tower and public square. The new police and courts building has destroyed the iconic Alden B. Dow-designed city hall.
    I'm not sure the federal building is as ugly as the Michigan Bell building on Huron, across from City Hall, though. Blech.

  5. The Michigan Bell is one of my favorites! Sure it's not a terribly lively building, but the brickwork on it is fantastic and arches have excellent detail. Though it's nothing compared to my true favorite, the Pratt Block which is now owned by the Shaffran company.

    A few others really great resources for old Ann Arbor sights…

    * Wystan Stevens's Flickr account is a real gem. This rabbit hole goes exceedingly deep. His State Street collection and The Buffalo Album are especially great.

    * Jim Rees's Lost Ann Arbor page is another excellent collection.

    * For Drake's Sandwich Shop, there's this great set form shortly before its close by Debora Drower.

    * Finally, for University history there's a number of great resources. Mort's Map, the Bentley Historical Library's Historical Tour of the University of Michigan Campus, and this listing of since-departed campus art (don't miss the rumored resting place of the Ben Franklin statue for a clue to a bizarre location from old Ann Arbor). All three of these are rich with images of the many buildings that once were part of campus.

  6. Oh and! Of course! From Ann Arbor's own Enlighten Ventures: What Was There featuring a rich Ann Arbor catalog among the likely metropolises across the country. What's great here is that you can see historical shots superimposed on their present day locations in the (roughly) correct perspective. Really really cool stuff.

  7. ArborWiki's "Lost Ann Arbor" category also has a good collection of pages for interpreting long-term Ann Arborites.

  8. Thank you for all of these links. I'll have to check them out. I smell a photo project at some point.

  9. Oh yes, ArborWiki's Lost category is a very good one!

    That reminded me that the library has a few good resources too:

    Historical signs nearly 1,000 even!

    But more importantly, that gallery is just one among the many in the AADL's photo galleries. Most of the galleries you see there are actually gallery of galleries. A huge trove of stuff is hiding in here to be found.

  10. @Phil: I meant the Michigan Bell building on Huron, not the Beaux Arts one behind it on Washington.

  11. Oh oh! I see. Well then in that case? 100% agreement :)