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Wednesday, August 6,2014

Eye candy of the week

by Daniel Bollman, AIA
Property: George W. Romney Building, 111 S. Capitol Ave.

Owner: State of Michigan

Assessed Value: no assessment

Built in 1924 as the Olds Hotel, the building was repurposed as an office building in the 1990s and renamed after Michigan’s 43rd governor. Like many buildings downtown, this impressive block is often overshadowed by the grandeur of the Capitol. Pedestrians studying the building are encouraged to step within and enjoy the soaring atrium that replaces the hotel’s original light court.

The details at this building’s base outwardly express its tremendous weight. Replacing the typical, tall individual columns, the supports here seem to have been crushed to stout stubs under the massive building above. Likewise, they have apparently compressed outward, colliding with each other in tightly compacted groups. The frieze immediately above these columns is similarly affected and is squashed out in a pulvinated bulge.

Rising above the dense base, limestone is applied to the brick-clad exterior in decorative Beaux-arts details. Rusticated window surrounds, corner quoins and delicate swags enhance the simple massing. The entire building is divided in the classical tripartite manner, both horizontally and in a more subtle vertical arrangement. By pairing two columns of windows and omitting their limestone surrounds, the Capitol façade is discreetly split into three discrete parts.

“Eye candy of the Week” is our weekly look at some of the nicer properties in Lansing. It rotates each with Eyesore of the Week. If you have a suggestion, please e-mail eye@lansingcitypulse.com or call Andy Balaskovitz at 999-5064.

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