Nexus Network Journal

, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp 207–229 | Cite as

Proportioning systems in Wirt C. Rowland’s Union Trust Guardian Building



American architect Wirt C. Rowland designed and constructed Detroit, Michigan’s Union Trust Guardian Building in the late 1920s, during his tenure with Smith, Hinchman and Grylls Associates. It is a masterpiece of American commercial architecture and one of the foremost Art Deco structures in the world. The bold geometric patterns that adorn the Guardian’s surfaces announce that geometry is in play. We propose that Rowland organized the building’s complex colorful designs around geometric proportioning systems. We review geometric methods available to Rowland in his day, and then reconstruct portions of the Guardian’s design utilizing dynamic symmetry, ad quadratum, and ad triangulum constructions.


Descriptive geometry Geometric construction Proportional systems Wirt C. Rowland Union Trust Guardian Building Detroit Michigan Modern American commercial architecture Dynamic symmetry Root-two Ad quadratum Ad triangulum Incommensurate values Art Deco 


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Copyright information

© Kim Williams Books, Turin 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Bloomfield HillsUSA
  2. 2.Great BarringtonUSA

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