Another Road Trip: Terra Cotta

by Don Friedman on January 4, 2016

I found myself recently in downtown Ann Arbor, looking at the First National Bank Building. My first reaction was “Look! A cute baby skyscraper!” (In my defense, this was the day before New Year’s and I was in a relaxed state.)

The building was well designed and has been well maintained. The terra cotta skin is beautiful and has nice detailing. For example, the office floors above original bank main entrance (click to enlarge):

IMG_1217

What really grabbed my eye, though, was the texture of the terra cotta. I’ve never seen anything quite like it: it’s heavily glazed over a very rough-textured clay body, creating an almost wavelike effect. I don’t if this is unique to this building or if it was a midwest standard: the terra cotta (per Wikipedia) came from the Northwestern Terra Cotta Company, which supplied a lot of the material in Chicago and the surrounding area.

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