Wayne State University Helen L. DeRoy Auditorium

People: Minoru Yamasaki

Date: 1964

City: Detroit

Michigan State Historic Preservation Office, photo by Rob Yallop.

The Wayne State University Helen L. DeRoy Auditorium was named after a Detroit auto dealer's widow who granted money for the building. It contains two auditoriums that are used mostly as classrooms. DeRoy was designed to harmonize architecturally with the Meyer and Anna Prentis Building. The DeRoy Auditorium and the Prentis Building form a two-building complex at a prominent location on the WSU campus. They are linked by an underground passage.


Architecturally, DeRoy Auditorium is a windowless, two-story building, almost square in plan, with a flat roof and a projecting roofline. It is faced with cast concrete panels that are formed into Gothic arches below the roofline. The arches begin at the base of the building and project at right angles from the wall planes to create an effect like Gothic tracery. The cast concrete panels were originally white, but have grayed over time.


The DeRoy Auditorium is surrounded by a reflecting pool on all sides. The entrances, at the east and west sides, are accessed over small bridges. The style of the building could be considered New Formalism where there is an added element of highly sculptural spaces with less emphasis on function.


(Text excerpted from the Wayne State University Walking Tour script developed by the City of Detroit Historic Designation Advisory Board staff.)