Lansing City Hall and Police Building

People: Kenneth C. Black

Date: 1956

City: Lansing

Photograph by Todd Walsh

Fronted by a landscaped plaza at the northwest corner of the intersection of Capitol and Michigan Avenues in Michigan's capital city, the Lansing City Hall and Police Building rises above a tall one-story lobby flanked by lower spaces, including the treasurer's office and an adjacent side entrance fronting on Capitol Avenue. The main, rectangular nine-story block of the building cantilevers outward to the south and west over the plaza and treasurer's office area, the part above the plaza rising above a square-plan entry. Round pinkish-mauve granite columns outside the lobby windows contain part of the support structure. The nine-story main block is faced in limestone at the narrow Capitol Avenue end — where the lower surface displays the building's name, LANSING CITY HALL, in raised letters below Leonard Jungwirth's carved representation of the city seal — and displays a glass and dark green aluminum panel curtain wall across its main south facade above the plaza. The lobby is finished with columns and wall cladding of the same pinkish-mauve granite. The building's plaza, designed by Black as part of the project, displays a glass and dark green aluminum curtain wall across its main facade above the plaza.


In the 1950s construction of a new city hall complex became a key component of the program of Lansing's progressive mayor, Ralph W. Crego, to modernize the city. Crego, Lansing's mayor from 1943 to 1961, presided over the city during the 1950s period when it built a new civic center, central and neighborhood fire stations, and airport terminal building as well as the city hall/police station complex. A new headquarters building for the city's Board of Water and Light came at the very end of his term of office, and a new public library was built only a few years after his departure.


Construction of city hall began in 1956 and was completed in 1958. The building, designed by Lansing architects Lee and Kenneth Black, was dedicated in 1959. With its open plaza at the Michigan/Capitol intersection, it stands on the former site of Lansing's Late Victorian post office/federal building, which had served as a city hall annex for much of the time since the present federal building was built in the early 1930s. In 1959, when the new city hall was occupied, the old one was demolished to provide a site for the new (now demolished) Board of Water and Light offices.


The city hall complex is a key historic landmark in downtown Lansing, notable for both its architecture and for its role as the central element of Mayor Crego's urban modernization plan of the 1950s.


(Text excerpted from the Lansing Downtown Historic District National Register of Historic Places Registration form.)