S. S. Kresge World Headquarters, photo taken 1976
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Kresge, S. S., World Headquarters
2727 Second Avenue, Detroit - Wayne County
Other Names The Detroit Institute of Technology
Property Type office building
Historic Use COMMERCE/TRADE
Current Use EDUCATION
Style Art Deco
Architect/Builder Albert Kahn
Narrative Description The S. S. Kresge World Headquarters is a massive, Art Deco, E-shaped office building covering 250,000 square feet of a city block. A standing-seam copper Mansard roof decorated with terra cotta cresting tops the limestone-faced structure, which rests on a raised foundation. The building features a projecting five-and-one-half-story central pavilion flanked by four-story projected and recessed wings. The symmetrical fenestration is broken by three-story fluted Doric pilasters interspersed with carved relief blocks. The fourth floor is visually separated from the lower levels by a bandcourse and different fenestration. Interior elements such as the polished granite entrance and inlaid walnut paneling continue the clean, geometric patterns of the exterior.
Statement of Significance The S. S. Kresge World Headquarters is an outstanding example of internationally renown architect Albert Kahn's office building architecture and was the headquarters for S.S. Kresge, a multi-million dollar national chain store. Designed by Kahn in 1928, the building won awards for its outstanding architecture, unique for its horizontal massing as opposed to the skyscraper, a much more common design. Kahn was commissioned by Sebastian S. Kresge, founder of the Kresge Corporation which started in 1898 as a single low-price store and grew to a major national retailing chain. The building held offices for 1200 employees during the 1920s until the Kresge Corporation relocated to new, larger headquarters in 1972. The building was then donated to the Detroit Institute of Technology and was converted into office and classroom space with very little alteration to the original interior.
Period of Significance 1901-1930
Significant Date(s) 1928, 1930
Registry Type(s) 12/19/1979 National Register listed
08/03/1979 State Register listed
Site ID# P25153