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Wayne State's renovated Yamasaki-designed McGregor reflecting pools to be unveiled May 1

April 18, 2013


Spring will awaken more than just the daffodils and tulips on Wayne State University’s campus this year.

At 5 p.m. Wednesday, May 1, the university will host a reopening ceremony for the Minoru Yamasaki-designed McGregor Memorial Conference Center Reflecting Pools. The campus jewel has lain dormant since the late ‘90s, when they were drained due to a damaged foundation. Last year, the university allocated $1.8 million to restore the pools to their former glory.

The restoration project included significant repairs to the concrete foundation, renovation of the plumbing and mechanics, and a new lighting scheme to enhance the drama of the pool at night.

The capital comes from donor gifts as well as campus enhancement and beautification funds. In addition, WSU alumna Carol Jonson created an endowed fund to help support the upkeep of the pool and the surrounding sculpture court.

“The McGregor Building and its reflecting pools are a distinct part of an already beautiful campus,” said WSU President Allan Gilmour. “Investing in this project is a wonderful way to honor the legacy of a great architect and the history of Wayne State at the same time.”

Constructed in 1958, the McGregor Memorial Conference Center was the first component of Yamasaki’s substantial body of work for the university. Between 1957 and 1964, Yamasaki contributed four buildings to the Wayne State campus: the McGregor Memorial Conference Center, the College of Education Building, the Meyer L. and Anna Prentis Building, and the Helen DeRoy Auditorium.

Yamasaki, best known for designing the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers, distinguished himself as one of the premier architects of the 20th century with his signature style — tall, narrow windows; gothic-inspired arches; and open ground-level areas.

Peace and tranquility — the central emotions Yamasaki intended for the reflecting pools — will be a running theme during the May 1 event.

Historic images of the pools can be found at http://wayne.edu/0f7f5f.  All images are courtesy of the Walter. P Reuther Library.

Media planning to attend the event should RSVP by emailing Jessica Archer at jarcher@wayne.edu