Encyclopedia Of Detroit

Fisher Building

Often cited as “Detroit’s largest art object,” the Fisher Building has brightened the skyline of Detroit since 1928. The building was the project of the seven Fisher Brothers, of Fisher Body prestige. Originally carriage-makers, the brothers popularized the closed body for the automobile which made year-round car travel possible. When they decided to build offices for Fisher and Company, they were willing to spend whatever it took to make it the world’s most beautiful office building.

Built with careful attention to detail, the Art Deco Fisher Building features vaulted, hand painted arcade ceilings and an interior utilizing several varieties of marble, brass, and bronze. The brothers hired architect Albert Kahn who used the finest materials, craftsmen and contractors in building what would become Detroit’s tallest building outside of the Downtown Central Business District. When completed in 1928, Kahn was awarded the Architectural League’s silver medal which named the Fisher Building the most beautiful commercial building of that year.

Incredibly, construction took only 15 months at a cost of $3 million. The main tower’s roof was originally covered in gold leaf, but during World War II it was feared the shining gold leaf would be a target for bombers, so it was covered in asphalt. After the war, terra cotta green tiles were used to cover the asphalt and are illuminated at night to make them appear golden. 

Kahn hired Geza Maroti, an artist from Budapest, Hungary who worked at Cranbrook, for the inside sculptures, mosaics and frescoes for the building. His works in the Fisher Building contain extensive symbolism focusing on two ideas: the wealth and power of the United States conveyed through commerce and transportation, and American culture and civilization imparted through music and drama. The building also contains architectural sculpture by the prolific Corrado Parducci. 
Originally, the building was to include three skyscrapers, but the onset of the Great Depression limited the project to one tower. The completed building measures more than 440 feet high, with a barrel vaulted lobby that features more than 40 different kinds of marble and an exterior covered in more than 325,000 square feet of marble. There are also tunnels connecting the Fisher Building to what was the General Motors Building across Grand Boulevard and to the New Center Building.
The Fisher Building is home to offices for organizations and professionals, dentists and doctors, banks, retail shops, the renowned Fisher Theater, and the studios of WJR-AM 760. The Fisher Building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1989.



Fisher Building postcard, 1935

Fisher Building postcard, 1930

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