Category: Michigan
Author: Michael DeFranceschi • Published

Everyone Should See These 6 Skyscrapers in Detroit [2024]

Four of the six skyscrapers happen to be really close to each other.
The Ally Detroit Center building, Guardian Building, and other buildings in one photo shot from Randolph Street in downtown Detroit.

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Detroit has been called the "Paris of the West" in times past-- primarily for the Art deco and gothic inspired architecture of many of its skyscrapers.

In my honest opinion, I find Detroit to be one of the most beautiful major cities in the U.S.

Detroit has some of the most memorable pieces of public art, tons of vibrant street art-- including multiple residential public art projects-- and the largest art museum in the midwest.

Today, we will shift our focus to the architectural allure of the Motor City.

Four of these skyscrapers have already been mentioned in my article on the best things to do in Detroit. This article includes two more edifices not mentioned previously!

Whether you are a local or a tourist, here are the six skyscrapers everyone should see when spending time in Detroit!

IN THIS ARTICLE...

For 2024, here are the 6 must-see skyscrapers in Detroit...

01 // Ally Detroit Center

The Ally Detroit Center building in downtown Detroit.
Would you think this building belongs to a bank?

Given that I'm talking about skyscrapers in the article, I had to switch to using portrait as opposed to landscape when taking these pictures. I'm using an iPhone 13 with no special lenses. It was too difficult to capture the impressive height of these buildings otherwise!

The first of the skyscrapers everyone should check out is the Ally Detroit Center, formerly known as One Detroit Center. The building-- along with the next three items on this list-- are located in the Financial District of downtown Detroit.

The Ally Detroit Center building has neo-gothic architectural design. It stands at 619 feet tall and has 43 floors. It is the second tallest skyscraper in this list, only paling behind the central tower of the General Motors Renaissance Center.

The reason for its name now is due to part of the building being used as office space and headquarters for Ally Financial, a digital bank. Interesting that a digital bank requires office space, don't you think?

What's even more interesting is that Dan Gilbert, founder of Rocket Mortgage, who'd be a competitor of Ally Financial, owns the building.

Address: 500 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48226

02 // The Guardian Building

The Guardian Building in the financial district of downtown Detroit. The Guardian Building is one of the most beautiful skyscrapers in Detroit.
You can enter this building 24 hours a day!

My second favorite skyscraper on this list is the Guardian Building, located only mere minutes away by walking from Ally Detroit Center.

The Guardian Building, sometimes referred to as the "Cathedral of Finance", was completed in 1929. The building is 489 feet tall but with its spire reaches a height of 632 feet. It has 32 stories.

The orangish-brown exterior of the Guardian Building is enchanting and helps the tower to pop out from the other buildings nearby.

What truly makes the Guardian Building shine is its interior, truly being a pinnacle of Art deco design.

You can enter the Guardian Building any time of day, for free. However, access to the building is pretty limited if you are not on a guided tour.

For a more in-depth experience of this architectural masterpiece, arrive a few minutes before either 12:00 p.m. or 1:30 p.m. on Sundays for a free guided tour.

On this free tour, you'll be able to access the 32nd floor, granting you some of the most breathtaking views of downtown, check out an executive board room on the 6th floor, and be able to explore some bank vaults in the basement.

Address: 500 Griswold St, Detroit, MI 48226

03 // The Penobscot Building

The front of the Penobscot Building in the financial district of downtown Detroit.
There is a similar design to the Joseph Smith Memorial Building in Salt Lake City.

The Penobscot Building, only a couple minutes walking distance from both the Guardian Building and Ally Detroit Center, has the most interesting design of the six skyscrapers and is also the oldest skyscraper in this list, having opened in 1912!

At the entrance to the Penobscot Building, there is a U-shaped design where it looks like part of the center of the building has been "removed". The skyscraper is said to have neoclassical design.

The Penobscot Building is 325 feet tall and has 23 stories.

The front level is used for retail whereas the rest of the Penobscot Building is used as office space.

Not too much to do for visitors to do other than admire the cool architecture.

Address: 645 Griswold St # 1300, Detroit, MI 48226

04 // The General Motors Renaissance Center

View from a distance of the General Motors Renaissance Center from Randolph Street. The General Motors Renaissance Center is one of the most beautiful skyscrapers in Detroit.
The most modern looking of the skyscrapers is undoubtedly the Ren Cen.

If the Guardian Building is my second favorite skyscraper in Detroit, then the General Motors Renaissance Center, a.k.a the "Ren Cen", is my favorite. This was probably obvious from the fact I used the Ren Cen as the lead photo for this article!

The Ren Cen is the last of the four skyscrapers in this list residing in Detroit's Financial District.

The Ren Cen is not just one building-- it's actually composed of seven connecting buildings. However, the central cylindrical shaped tower is typically what people think of when referring to the Ren Cen (as do I).

The Ren Cen has modernist architectural design.

The central tower is the tallest and newest skyscraper on this list, standing at an impressive 727 feet with 73 stories and having been completed in 1977. The central tower is also the tallest building in the entire state of Michigan.

As the full name suggests, the Ren Cen is the headquarters of General Motors, one of the automotive "big three" in Detroit (the other two being Ford Motor Company and Stellantis North America).

On the first floor, when the space is not being rented out for an event, visitors can walk through a museum-like setting, seeing some of General Motor's vehicles.

As mentioned earlier, the Ren Cen serves as far more than office space for General Motors. The buildings have several retail and dining outlets inside. The buildings also host various conferences and events around the year.

One final asset of the Ren Cen is that it overlooks the mesmerizing Detroit Riverfront, which USA Today touted in 2021, 2022, and 2023 as being the best riverwalk in the US!

Address: 400 Renaissance Center, Detroit, MI 48243

05 // The Book Tower

Side view of the Book Tower in Detroit.
This building re-opened to the public in 2023.

The Book Tower re-opened to the public in summer 2023. It was originally built in 1926 but abandoned in 2009 due to mortgage defaults.

The Book Tower is 463 feet tall with 38 floors. With its spire, it reaches a height of 499 feet.

The building has neoclassical and Renaissance Revival architectural design.

Today, the Book Tower functions as a residence and a hotel, featuring some dining options as well. Visitors are free to explore the first two floors for free.

Address: 1265 Washington Blvd, Detroit, MI 48226

06 // The Fisher Building

The Fisher Building in the New Center district of Detroit.
The Fisher Building.

The final skyscraper on this list is also the furthest away from the others, located in the New Center district.

Those who do not want to drive from downtown to New Center can take the Q-Line to reach Grand Boulevard, the street where the Fisher Building resides off of.

The Fisher Building was completed in 1928. It stands at 445 feet tall, with its spire reaching 489 feet.

The Fisher Building has been called "Detroit's Largest Art Project". Much like the Guardian Building, the skyscraper is another testament to the spellbinding aesthetic of Art Deco design.

The Fisher Building has happens to be the world's tallest marble structure.

Free guided tours are offered every Saturday at 12:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. You'll be able to see more of the building and ride in the elevators-- even the elevators are artistic-- which are notably fast!

Address: 3011 W Grand Boulevard, Detroit, MI 48201

Conclusion

Skyscrapers are an essential element of a "big city"-- and Detroit has some of the most stunning in the country!

In downtown, you will find Ally Detroit Center, the Guardian Building, the Penobscot Building, the Ren Cen, and the Book Tower.

In New Center, you will find the Fisher Building.

The architectural beauty of these skyscrapers is one of the most persuasive reasons why Detroit is totally worth visiting!

I hope you enjoyed this brief article on the six best skyscrapers in Detroit!


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