Notable Tile Installation

Guardian Building

Notable Tile Installation

Guardian Building

Detroit, Michigan

Year of Installation:


Craftmanship Features

A National Historic Landmark, the Guardian Building is known as a striking example of Art Deco architecture. Bold tile designs in colors of tangerine, yellow, blue, and green reflect a blend of Native American, Aztec, and Arts & Crafts influences. The building also contains stained-glass mosaics and tile murals that complete the building’s unrivaled roaring 20s grandeur.

Other than the building’s soaring heights, the real wow factor is what is inside: hand-painted murals, vaulted ceilings, beautiful glass mosaics, marble fixtures, and intricate tile designs abound.

There is detailed tile work in many locations throughout the building and one of the more notable installations is located at the building’s entrance, where the domed ceiling is covered in colorful, custom-made ceramic tile. The vivid colors accentuate the Art Deco architectural features, and the dominating use of tangerine and yellow tile adds to the natural light of the building’s entrance. Colorful tile makes a statement in multiple areas throughout the Guardian Building. As the building’s designer, Wirt Rowland, remarked at the time, “We no longer live in a leisurely age . . . the impression must be immediate, strong and complete. Color has this vital power.”



In the early 1920’s a new banking group, The Union Trust Company, wanted to create an image for themselves that no one would forget. The company commissioned the architects and designers to build their dream office headquarters and the creation of the Guardian Building began. The design was finalized in 1927 and the construction of the 40-story building was completed in 1929. After the stock market crash, The Union Company was reorganized into The Union Guardian Trust Company. The building is currently known as the Guardian Building.


See for Yourself

The Guardian Building is located at 500 Griswold Street in Downtown Detroit’s Financial District. The building’s foyer is open for visiting, as well as the building’s gift shop. Pure Detroit offers free guided tours on the weekends where visitors can get additional information about the building’s history.

The Guardian Building also hosts formal events and meetings. For more information on the event spaces, please visit


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