Michigan Architecture
MAF Late Summer Road Trip:


As summer comes to a close, consider a road trip to the heart of Michigan: the Lansing area. Lansing is central to a good portion of the lower peninsula and offers a variety of options that could fill a weekend or even a simple day trip.  If you are planning a trip to Lansing, please consider some of the following unique architectural buildings and historical areas, to learn more about Michigan architecture – and how it reinforces MAF’s mission of “Advancing awareness of how architecture enriches life.”


Great Architecture of Michigan 2020 Fall Road Trip:

Some of our first Road Trips focused on the Michigan buildings featured in the Michigan Architectural Foundation’s book, ‘Great Architecture of Michigan,’ written by John Gallagher with photos by Balthazar Korab. The Fall 2020 Road Trip explored the central and southwest regions of the state, starting in Lansing and traveling southwest to Hillsdale. A link to that original Road Trip can be found here:

MAF Road Trip #5: Lansing to Hillsdale  : Michigan Architectural Foundation


Michigan State Capitol:

No trip to Lansing would be complete without a tour of our State Capitol – one of our nation’s finest state capitol buildings.  The opulent interior borrows freely from classical and High Victorian motifs.  Thanks to a 1990’s restoration, the capital shines in all its glory (see the Michigan architecture feature on the building in this month’s MAF newsletter).  The third link below will connect you to a self-guided tour that is packed with historical and educational information regarding the Capitol.

Michigan State Capitol Tours

Michigan State Capitol plantour

2015-YSC-text-9-15-15.indd (michigan.gov)


MSU Broad (The Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum):

For an experience that is a complete architectural-style opposite of the Capitol, look no further than the MSU Broad, on the campus of Michigan State University in East Lansing.  In June of 2007, Michigan State received a $28 million donation from businessman Eli Broad and his wife, Edythe, for the construction of a new art museum to replace the old Kresge Art Museum.  A design competition was held among five pre-selected international architectural firms.  The winning design, by London based Zaha Hadid Architects, is a masterpiece of contemporary design.  The angular facade is composed of pleated stainless steel and glass and was conceived to give the building “an ever-changing appearance that arouses curiosity yet never quite reveals its content.”

MSU BROAD  (About)

MSU BROAD  (Visit)


Michigan State University:

Michigan State University (Michigan State, MSU) is a public land-grant research university in East Lansing, founded in 1855 as the Agricultural College of the State of Michigan, the first of its kind in the United States.  The sprawling campus is perched on the banks of the Red Cedar River.  Development of the campus started in 1856 with three buildings: a multipurpose College Hall building, a dormitory later and a barn. Today, MSU’s contiguous campus consists of 5,300 acres, 2,000 acres of which are developed. There are 563 buildings: 107 for academics, 131 for agriculture, 166 for housing and 42 for athletics.  Connecting it all is 26 miles of roads and 100 miles of sidewalks than span the campus.

Visit | Michigan State University (msu.edu)

Self-Guided MSU Campus Tour | Experience MSU



Michigan Library and Historical Center Building:

This five-story, 250,000-square-foot Postmodern building, designed by William Kessler, FAIA, serves as the home for the interpretation and conservation of the state’s history. Its distinctive stepped design is faced with alternating horizontal strips of light and dark limestone above a base of polished black granite.  A courtyard with a white pine, Michigan’s state tree, surrounded at the base by a fountain sculpture depicting the Great Lakes, is the light and airy focus of the building. Copper covers the walls of the building enclosing the courtyard. The interior color scheme is blue, green, and brown to represent the state’s lakes, woodlands, and beaches. A conceptual storyline of Michigan’s history flows through enlarged displays and dioramas of prehistoric times, mining, lumbering, farming, and industry throughout the museum.

Michigan History Museum

Explore (michigan.gov)


Lansing-Old Town:

Old Town is Lansing’s original downtown and boutique district.  Voted one of the city’s top places to bring visitors and the winner of IKEA’s Main Street Makeover, Old Town is an urban neighborhood with a small-town feel.  The neighborhood’s beautiful Victorian buildings are filled with unique galleries, tasty eateries, quaint boutiques, creative businesses, specialty shops, nightclubs, and more. This arts district hosts festivals, gallery walks and farmers markets throughout the year.  A self-guided walking tour where you follow the Old Town arrows, is available for download.  The walking tour begins at the Brenke Fish Ladder in Burchard Park, just south of Ceasar Chavez Plaza.

Walking Tours | Old Town Lansing (iloveoldtown.org)


A History of Lansing: Visitor’s Guide and Tour:

If you are looking for a comprehensive listing and tour of Lansing’s historically significant buildings, look no further than this tour.  This guide will take you through the golden era of Michigan’s Capitol City. The brochure lays out a self-guided tour of historical sites to pique the interest of residents and visitors alike, comprising commercial centers, religious buildings, government structures, residences, significant owners, and architectural styles. Each site’s story is told by the booklet and on-site historical markers. Admire the architecture as you look at each site up close, and be sure to reflect on the history behind the facade that reveals the soul of each location.

Lansing Walking Tour_Booklet.indd (civicplus.com)


Historic Homes of Lansing:

As Michigan’s state capital, Lansing is full of history.  But that history is not limited to museums or government buildings. It can be seen on a drive down the street admiring the city’s historic homes, which provide a glimpse of how Lansing has changed over the past 160 years.  Here are some historic homes to check out in Lansing:

Tour Lansing’s past at these iconic historic homes (lansingstatejournal.com)