Jeffersonian Apartments

People: Louis A. Rossetti

Date: 1965

City: Detroit

Michigan State Historic Preservation Office, photo by Rob Yallop.

The Jeffersonian Apartments is a large high-rise apartment building on Detroit’s near east side. The rectangular concrete and steel structure rises approximately thirty stories and contains 412 apartment units. The building is located on a relatively flat, approximately six-acre site between East Jefferson Avenue and the Detroit River. West of the building is Erma Henderson Park and Marina. The massive volume and verticality of the high-rise is balanced by the horizontality of the low, two-story parking garage located behind the building. The parking garage is clad with white precast panels in a stylized organic motif. The glazed aluminum curtain walls of the building’s two-story lobby are recessed behind a colonnade of square columns. A thin, flat, concrete roof plate supported on three columns projects from the front of the building to provide shelter to arriving guests. The recessed curtain walls and thin, projecting floor plates give the building a delicate character despite its massive size. A large mechanical penthouse is located on top of the building’s flat roof.

The Jeffersonian Apartment building is a large residential high-rise designed by the Detroit firm of Giffels and Rossetti. During the early 1960s the pattern of urban living in Detroit began to change. The traditional low-rise, Gothic and classically-detailed masonry apartment blocks were being replaced by large steel and concrete luxury apartments and hotels. Often these developments were set in park-like surroundings and offered the tenants extra amenities such as large balconies, swimming pools, and small businesses such as dry cleaners and variety stores located within the building. The height and orientation of these apartments also offered their occupants dramatic views of their surroundings.

Some of the other notable structures designed by the Giffels and Rossetti firm include Cobo Hall and Arena, L. C. Smith Terminal at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport, and the Federal Mogul Staff offices in Southfield. The Giffels and Rossetti partnership was dissolved in the late 1960s at which time Louis Rossetti established his own practice.