City Guide 2024: A Guide to Detroit’s Skyscrapers

Take a closer look at some of the most iconic buildings in Detroit’s skyline.
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We Detroiters like to think of our skyline as the most beautiful in the world. It’s always nice when we hear that others agree.

“In our travels across America, I can’t think of too many cities that can compete with Detroit for its collection of really terrific, especially art deco, historic skyscrapers,” says Mark Houser, author of Highrises Art Deco: 100 Spectacular Skyscrapers from the Roaring ’20s to the Great Depression.

Below is a guide to some of those art deco gems, plus other soaring scrapers. The skyscrapers are listed in order of appearance in the above photo from left to right, top to bottom.

GM Renaissance Center

Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center
  • Opened: 1977
  • Height: 727 feet high, 73 floors
  • Of note: It was the tallest hotel in the world when it opened, and it’s still the tallest building in Detroit.
  • Address: 400 Renaissance Drive W.

Renaissance Towers

  • Opened: 1977
  • Height: 509 feet high, 39 floors (each tower)
  • Of note: In 1996, General Motors Co. acquired the buildings for its headquarters.
  • Address: 400 Renaissance Center

Fisher Building

  • Opened: 1928
  • Height: 441 feet high, 28 floors
  • Of note: It’s known as “Detroit’s largest art object.”
  • Address: 3011 W. Grand Blvd.

David Stott Building

  • Opened: 1929
  • Height: 436 feet high, 38 floors
  • Of note: It opened four months before the Great Depression began.
  • Address: 1150 Griswold St. 

Cadillac Tower

  • Opened: 1927
  • Height: 437 feet high, 40 floors
  • Of note: This beautiful late Gothic revival-style skyscraper is perhaps best known in modern times for its hanging murals, like the 14-story Barry Sanders mural that was there from 1994 to 2000.
  • Address: 65 Cadillac Square

Ally Detroit Center

  • Opened: 1993
  • Height: 619 feet high, 43 floors
  • Of note: It is Michigan’s tallest office building, and the second tallest building overall.
  • Address: 500 Woodward Ave.

One Woodward Avenue

  • Opened: 1963
  • Height: 430 feet high, 32 floors
  • Of note: It is the first skyscraper Detroit architect Minoru Yamasaki designed and has been called the forerunner to Yamasaki’s later project New York City’s World Trade Center.
  • Address: 1 Woodward Ave.

Penobscot Building

  • Opened: 1928
  • Height: 565 feet high, 47 floors
  • Of note: When it opened, it was the eighth tallest building in the world.
  • Address: 645 Griswold St.

Patrick V. McNamara Federal Building

  • Opened: 1976
  • Height: 393 feet high, 27 floors
  • Of note: It was named for a U.S. Senator
  • Address: 477 Michigan Ave. 

DTE Energy Headquarters

  • Opened: 1971
  • Height: 374 feet high, 25 floors
  • Of note: It’s comprised of three buildings. The Walker-Cisler Building is the tallest.
  • Address: One Energy Plaza

Guardian Building

  • Opened: 1929
  • Height: 496 feet high, 40 floors
  • Of note: It’s often thought of as one of the most beautiful Art Deco buildings in the country.
  • Address: 500 Griswold St. 

Broderick Tower

  • Opened: 1927
  • Height: 369 feet high, 34 floors
  • Of note: It became the third tallest abandoned building in the United States when it closed in 1985.
  • Address: 10 Witherell St.

Book Tower

  • Opened: 1926
  • Height: 475 feet high, 38 floors
  • Of note: It was the tallest building in Detroit for two years before Penobscot opened.
  • Address: 1265 Washington Blvd.

211 West Fort Street

Buhl Building

  • Opened: 1925
  • Height: 366 feet high, 27 floors
  • Of note: It was designed so that every office has an outside window.
  • Address:  535 Griswold St.

150 West Jefferson

  • Opened: 1989
  • Height: 455 feet high, 28 floors
  • Of note: It’s across the avenue from Hart Plaza where draft events will take place.
  • Address: 150 W. Jefferson Ave.

Westin Book Cadillac Detroit

  • Opened: 1924
  • Height: 29 floors
  • Of note: It was the tallest hotel in the world when it opened.
  • Address: 1114 Washington Blvd. 

Higher Love

Mark Houser and Chris Hytha, the writer and artist behind a beautiful book about Art Deco skyscrapers in the U.S., tell us what they love about Detroit’s high-rises.

Penobscot Building

This skyscraper exemplifies the art deco “ziggurat” form, with its heavy monolithic base tapering to a light metal spire. While the building’s ornamentation is minimal, its form and setbacks become the star of the show. It is an unmistakable landmark towering above Detroit’s skyline. —Chris Hytha

Buhl Building

Detroiters have the easiest architectural walking tour in America on Griswold Street, where three great 1920s skyscrapers by the brilliant local architect Wirt Rowland stand just a block apart. Rowland’s Buhl, Penobscot, and Guardian buildings exude the energy and experimentation that characterized the best of art deco. —Mark Houser

Guardian Building

I am captivated by the use of color and materiality on this unique skyscraper. The architect, Wirt Rowland, was inspired by a trip to Barcelona when he conceived of this skyscraper, and I can certainly see the influence. The colorful geometric patterns on the facade are unlike any skyscraper I have seen across the country. —CH

David Stott Building

An English immigrant of humble farming origins, David Stott surely could not have imagined he would have his own skyscraper one day. And though he died before it was built, what a legacy his children created for him with this glowing orange namesake tower flecked with sparkling polychrome panels. —MH

Fisher Building

Most skyscraper facades are made of stone, tile, or brick, so wrapping one in marble makes a statement. The Fisher boys’ gleaming tower showed off how rich they got with their Motor City chassis-making business, not only on the outside but with its lobby, among the most spectacular in any city. —MH

Book Tower

When a one-of-a-kind building like this reemerges from limbo, it reinforces the hope that a hard-hit community can bounce back revitalized with a new purpose. Having seen it at its worst, I look at Book Tower now as a metaphor for cities like Detroit and my hometown of Pittsburgh. —MH

Highrises Art Deco: 100 Spectacular Skyscrapers from the Roaring ’20s to the Great Depression is now available to order at highrisecollection.com


This story is one piece of our 2024 City Guide, which appeared in the April 2024 issue of Hour Detroit magazine. For the rest, pick up a copy of Hour Detroit at a local retail outlet. Our digital edition will be available on April 5.