East Lansing’s architectural gem goes up for sale

EAST LANSING, Michigan – The Michigan State Medical Society building in East Lansing is one of the state’s finest examples of Modernist architecture.

It was built in the 1960s by the Christman Company and designed by world famous architect Minoru Yamasaki, who also designed the World Trade Center.

And it’s for sale, with a listing price of $ 4.3 million.

“This is an iconic structure, iconic architecture. It is an iconic place here in the heart of East Lansing,” said Eric Rosekrans, senior vice president of Martin Commerical Properties.

Its tall, narrow windows that extend to its unique repeating arch roofline make the building stand out.

Tianna Jenkins, WSYM, November 2021

A close up of the arch roof line on the Michigan State Medical Society building

“There are two buildings here that are connected to an atrium,” Rosekrans said. “It’s really beautiful. It’s a beautiful lot and you have the trees that help shade the building and give it a perspective from a natural point of view, but it’s really the architecture of the building that sets it apart. from other Midwestern properties. “

The original structure was completed in 1961 for the Michigan State Medical Society. It is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

It was nominated because of its first stellar example of Yamasaki’s new formalist style, built when its fame was just starting to spread.

“Yamasaki was actually of Asian-American descent. And so it’s actually a really unique story about how he was a kind of ethnic minority that was booming in the field of architecture, which was largely dominated by white males for much of the 20th century, “said Nathan Nietering, project coordinator at Michigan’s State Historic Preservation Office.

Minoru Yamasaki
Minoru Yamasaki

Yamasaki also designed four different buildings on the Wayne State University campus in Detroit.

“It was sort of his first big big hit in Michigan, and in fact, after that he moved to Michigan, and his architectural firm was based in Michigan, from the middle of the 1950s until his death in 1986, ”Nietering mentioned.

The Michigan State Medical Society’s construction project was its first major project outside of the Detroit area.

The Michigan State Medical Society building

Tianna Jenkins, WSYM, November 2021

The Michigan State Medical Society building

From the large meeting room to the office spaces, the interior is open and spacious.

“It focused a lot on outdoor natural light, the whole front wall and back wall are almost all glass. So there’s a lot of natural light filtering through the building, which I think makes it look really unique and special, ”said Nietering.

Meeting room inside the Michigan State Medical Society building

Martin Commercial Properties, Inc.

Meeting room inside the Michigan State Medical Society building

Henry Guthard was a senior partner and executive vice president of Yamasaki Associates Inc. He says he worked closely with Yamasaki for about 30 years.

“I had known him since the mid-1940s when he arrived at the firm where I was apprenticed as chief architectural designer. I was very impressed with him,” said Guthard.

Henry J. Guthard

Henry J. Guthard, November 2021

Henry J. Guthard

When Yamasaki opened his own business, he asked Guthard to be his director of engineering.

“It was a remarkable experience because he was such a brilliant architect,” said Guthard.

He says Yamasaki’s explanations of his complex ideas only made some aspects of the design more impressive.

“It was truly a remarkable experience when he humanized the architecture of his buildings,” said Guthard.

The Michigan State Medical Society is separating from the building because, with technological developments and new styles of work brought on by the pandemic, “their model has changed and the building is just too big for them at this point,” Rosekrans said.

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