Lorch Hall Bas Reliefs and Decorative Details

Probably Emil Lorch
1927; Limestone; Architectural Feature
Central Campus; Façades of Lorch Hall

These bas reliefs consist of several elements. Along the east side of the building are medallions featuring names of famous architects and artists, including Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Titian, Brunelleschi, etc. The seals of the State of Michigan and the University of Michigan also appear on the façades. The central tower features panels with symbols representative of architecture and learning. These reflect Lorch Hall’s original use as the College of Architecture Building (which at the time included the Art Department). Lorch Hall was designed by Emil Lorch, the first dean of the College of Architecture, who had also planned for a statue of the Goddess of Art to stand above the main entrance, but it was not executed due to lack of funds. The weathervane is meant to look like a ship in full sail, but close inspection reveals that the sail is an artist’s palette, the mast is a brush, and a t-square serves as the hull. These also reflect the building’s original purpose. The decorative work in the first-floor main lobby was done by the Flint Faience Company and includes a representation of the university’s seal. The date on the seal—1837—was the date the U-M was moved to Ann Arbor from Detroit. In 1929 the U-M corrected its seal to reflect the university’s original founding date of 1817.