minoru yamasaki in east lansing
Get your weekend started with this gem from Minoru Yamasaki.
Designed in 1959, the Michigan State Medical Society (MSMS) building is not necessarily the type of structure you might expect from an organization with roots in the early nineteenth century. Still strikingly modern, the Minoru Yamasaki-designed office is situated within the suburban confines of East Lansing, a gleaming white edifice nestled within a carefully landscaped lawn. An early example of Yamasaki’s shift to Neo Formalism, the structure is elegant in form and practical in function, its repetitive geometry a modern solution for the mid-twentieth-century office building.
Completed in just two years for a total cost of $750,000, the MSMS building is a long and linear box, its two-story footprint measuring 55 feet in width by 155 feet in length. In front of the office building, a circular drive and a meticulously tended terraced yard lead to the distinctive geometric façade. Composed of thirty-one semi-cylindrical precast concrete arches supported by tall, slender columns, the scalloped roofline is the building's most prominent feature, lending a unique structural rhythm to the standard office block. Large glass windows span the openings between the thin columns (typical of Yamasaki’s work) to create a gleaming grid juxtaposed against the repeating round arch. Just off the building's center, the repetitive pattern of column, arch, and glass forms a recessed entry that opens onto a two-story reception space. Inside, the office is characterized by openness, light, and practicality- its reception area gazing adoringly at the lushly landscaped surroundings.
In the design for the MSMS building, Yamasaki abandoned the typical modern cantilever for a support system of two-story precast concrete columns. The result is a structure with long glass walls punctuated by the repetition of arch and column. Appearing to float above the terraced landscape, the white form energizes its site, its balanced, human-scaled façade a quiet (but bold) interpretation of classical architecture. With few major alterations to Yamasaki's original design, the building retains its unique aesthetic, and in 2011, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
You can read more claass HAUS posts on Minoru Yamasaki here and here.
Image at top:
Michigan State Medical Society Building by the Michigan State Historic Preservation Office [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0], via Flickr.
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