Interior Floors, Wall Base & Liturgical Furnishings
Location: Detroit, MI
Owner: Wayne State University, Mike Ilitch School of Business
Materials: Cordova Cream limestone, Titanium Pearl Granite
Description: In an effort to link its main campus to the heart of the downtown, Wayne State University (WSU) built the Mike Ilitch School of Business in the District Detroit, directly between the two. The building stands out as a focal point along the iconic Woodward avenue, directly to the North of Little Caesars arena. With such a prominent location the building’s design is both bold and elegant and appeals the eye with a 67’ high cantilevered limestone clad canopy that not only covers the rooftop terrace but also flirts with dividing the line between the building and the street as the cars, people and transit system run beneath. To keep in line with the design, there is a smaller 1st-floor limestone canopy wrapping 2 elevations that draws a passersby’s eye before extending upwards.
The main cantilevered limestone canopy is constructed of 3” thick Cordova Cream limestone which slopes back from the street front towards the building before transitioning into the hip areas at the North and South and extending 5 stories down to the ground on each elevation. The architectural vision and design were bold from the onset; but the engineering and steel design required to support 3” cantilevered stone, all of which sloping in one or two directions, that would take place over 3 months proved to be more challenging than the installation itself which was completed in the dead of the Detroit winter. It took a team of draftsmen, 3D modelers and structural engineers to precisely calculate and design the backup system before the steel fabrication could begin. The biggest engineering challenges came when considering not only the dead load and wind load requirements of the limestone but also the slide load as each piece crept out towards the street front. The final design included a series of steel channels running parallel with the slope of the canopy, welded to the structural steel which became the skeleton for the limestone support. Because of the extensive engineering combined with the tight schedule, some of the anchorage preparation had to be done onsite as the material had been fabricated long before the intricate anchorage design was complete. The tight site constraints meant that the installation of both the steel support and the limestone at the canopy had to be completed off of scaffolding encompassing the South, East and North elevations.
In addition to its prominence on the street front, the limestone cladding occupies each additional elevation including the 4 and 5 story courtyard walls and the 2-story “back of the building” elevation which features a unique textured finish to distinguish itself from the metal cladding above. The perimeter base of the building features 2” thick Titanium Pearl granite as a compliment to the limestone. Precise calculations and careful execution allow the Mike Ilitch School of Business to stand out as a new gem along Woodward avenue.