Manufacturers National Bank

People: Louis G. Redstone

Date: 1963

City: Birmingham

The Manufacturers National Bank building is oriented east-west on a narrow lot fronting on Woodward Avenue. The primary elevation faces south toward the adjacent parking area. The main entrance and banking lobby is located in the center of the building under a saw-tooth or “winged-T” concrete roof. Originally the building had a small glazed entrance vestibule in the center bay of the glazed lobby. The vestibule has since been eliminated and the entrance shifted to the western-most bay. An automated teller machine kiosk has been constructed in front of the eastern-most bay of the lobby wall. The angled muntins of the curtain wall create a series of hexagonal windows where the wall extends up into the small gables of the saw-toothed roof. The 1-1/2-story banking lobby is flanked by one-story, windowless wings. A single narrow window is located in the center of the street-facing facade. The wings are clad with precast, quartz-aggregate concrete panels. A glazed curtain wall hyphen joins the front banking portion of the building with a rear office wing. It appears the office wing may be an addition. The south elevation of the office wing is seven bays wide. It has narrow, slit windows with protruding pre-cast frames and an off-set glazed aluminum entrance. The office wing has a flat roof and is clad with pre-cast, quartz aggregate panels.

The Manufacturers National Bank Building in Birmingham was built in 1963 as a branch office. The approximately five thousand-square-foot building was designed by Louis G. Redstone to “house a complex operation with compactness and warmth.” The building featured a spacious banking hall with eight tellers, three drive-up windows, and parking for twenty-two cars. The open arrangement of the interior allowed the officers to supervise the tellers, cages and vaults from a central location. The building was placed and the site arranged in a manner that would maximize the number of cars that could be accommodated at the drive-up windows without interrupting traffic along Woodward Avenue.

Louis Redstone was born in Russia, and after working for a few years in Palestine he emigrated to the United States in the early 1920s. He enrolled in the University of Michigan’s College of Architecture in 1925 and graduated four years later with his bachelorÕs degree. Unable to find work as an architect, Redstone worked as an artist and sculptor and then returned to Palestine in the 1930s to help design the Palestine Pavilion for the 1937 World’s Fair in Paris. He returned to Detroit and started his own practice receiving several important commissions including, among others, the Michael Berry International Air Terminal at Detroit Metropolitan Airport, the Manufacturers Bank Operations Center and the business administration building at Lawrence Technological University.

Redstone continued to pursue his artistic interests, attending the Center for Creative Studies and the Oxbow School of Art. During the 1940s, studying under Eliel Saarinen, he completed his master’s degree in urban design at the Cranbrook Academy of Art. Redstone was recognized for his work by the Michigan Society of Architects and the Royal Academy of Fine Arts at the Hague. Redstone died in Detroit in 2002 at the age of ninety-nine.