Restoration of 100-Year-Old Domed Roof

February 8, 2017
Publication: Building Enclosure Magazine

West Hall, one of the many historic campus buildings designed by Albert Kahn (one of the leading American industrial architects of his day), is located on South University Avenue on the University of Michigan’s Central Campus. The building was constructed in two phases in the early 1900s of load-bearing masonry and a wood truss roof structure with terra-cotta tile roofing. A pair of wood-framed, copper-clad lanterns are located above the historic Denison Archway passage to the central diagonal pedestrian walk, which encompasses the original 40 acres of land upon which the University was founded.

Each lantern has an octagonal base with pillars supporting a domed roof that is topped with a decorative finial. The lanterns marking the archway are one of the most prominent landmarks at the University of Michigan, making it particularly important to preserve their appearance and role as a character-defining architectural element for the campus. This article discusses the process of restoring the lanterns and some lessons learned from that process.