Minoru Yamasaki’s Michigan State Medical Society Building goes up for sale


Picking up on local reporting from Central Michigan-based Fox 47 News, Archinect has shared news that the Michigan State Medical Society (MSMS) is decamping from its longtime Minoru Yamasaki-designed headquarters on West Saginaw Street in East Lansing and has put the local icon up for sale for $4.3 million. The low-and-long 1961 office complex features a late-1970s two-story addition known as the Stockwell Wing that connects to the main building via an atrium and was also designed by Yamasaki Associates. The building is situated on a well-groomed 3.5-acre suburban campus and was added to the National Register of Historic Places a decade ago.

The 46,255-square-foot complex is reportedly in excellent condition as the nonprofit MSMS, throughout its entire 60-year occupancy, remained a dedicated steward of the building and, as noted by Archinect, was commended by the state in 2012 for remaining “true to the original design intent of Minoru Yamasaki” and abiding by “the highest preservation standards.”

However, as Eric Rosekrans, senior vice president of Martin Commercial Properties, relayed to Fox 47, the Medical Society’s organizational needs coming out of the pandemic, like so many companies and institutions, have shifted and its longtime home is now simply too large.

entrance to a modernist office building was a distinctive glass facade and arched roofline
(Kedzie1874/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 3.0)

“Their model has changed and the building is just too big for them at this point,” Rosekrans explained.

Commissioned in 1959 and completed two years later as the first permanent home for the Detroit-founded MSMS, the building also marks the first major Michigan building for Seattle-born (and later Detroit area-based) Yamasaki outside of the Detroit metro area. It was completed following his transformative McGregor Memorial Conference Center at Wayne State University. Other notable Yamasaki projects in his adopted state of Michigan—and there are many—include the Reynolds Great Lakes Regional Sales Center in Southfield (1958), the Prentis Building and DeRoy Auditorium Complex (1957) also at Wayne State University, Temple Beth El in Bloomfield Township (1973), and downtown Detroit’s Michigan Consolidated Gas Building (now One Woodward Plaza), which, in 1963, became the first skyscraper project completed by the prolific mid-20th-century Japanese-American architect. Of course, his name would later become synonymous with record-busting high-rise projects including Tulsa’s BOK Tower (1975), the Century City Towers (1975) in Los Angeles, Torre Picasso (1988) in Madrid, and, most famously, the felled World Trade Center Complex (1973) in Lower Manhattan.

Back in East Lansing, the Michigan State Medical Society Building, with its characteristic scalloped roofline, walls of elongated tinted glass windows spanning between thin columns, and vaulted ceilings, represents an early example of Yamasaki working in the New Formalist style.

The building is featured in the newly published expanded edition of Susan J. Bandes’ Mid-Michigan Modern (MSU), a definitive guide to modernist architecture in the greater Lansing area. Here’s hoping that its next owners maintain the same high level of regard for the building as the MSMS has for six decades.


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