The Great Lakes Region Reynolds Headquarters Building, located in Southfield, Michigan, is a multi-story office building constructed in 1959. The building featured gold anodized aluminum screens in front of a glass curtain wall. When constructed, the building was surrounded by a water feature similar to those found in several of Yamasaki’s other buildings, such as the McGregor Memorial Conference Center and Helen L. DeRoy Auditorium, both at Wayne State University in Detroit.
Columns surrounding the building hold up the aluminum brise soleil, permanent sun screens, which were popular at the time with Modernist architects such as Le Corbusier. On the interior of the building, the first level is a completely open party space with large diamond-shaped skylights, allowing for grand gatherings to show off the power of Reynolds Aluminum to potential clients. As the sun would change over the day, the changing shadows from the brise soleil create intricate patterns along the marble floors and walls. Light also reflects off the aluminum onto the floor and walls of the party space creating an ephemeral atmosphere. On the second and third floor, offices are arranged around this open space to allow light to radiate into the first floor from all angles.
Aluminum was also used in the skylight frames, the formed ceiling panels on the exterior, and the interior and exterior doors. The use of aluminum in the building was meant to focus the attention, especially the automobile makers in Detroit, on the multi-faceted uses of aluminum. The motif of the screens is a prime example of Yamasaki’s “jewel-like” architecture style that he developed after a trip to the Middle East, Europe and Asia in the mid 1950s. Today the building is home to a Bally Total Fitness health club.
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