Alumni support contributes to McGregor Pool restoration

Alumni support contributes to McGregor Pool restoration
Speakers at the McGregor Memorial Conference Center Reflecting Pool ceremony pour pitchers of water into the pool marking its official reopening.

In front of delighted guests and beneath a warm and shining sun, Wayne State University celebrated the reopening of the McGregor Memorial Conference Center Reflecting Pool on May 1, 2013. Designed by famed architect Minoru Yamasaki and originally constructed in 1957-58, the pool had been empty since the late 1990s. Over the past year, it was renovated “according to its original design, with current design and construction technologies,” Hilary Ratner, vice president for research at Wayne State told the attendees.

Ratner led the speakers who also included Allan Gilmour, president of Wayne State University; Debbie Dingell, chair of the WSU Board of Governors; Carol Yamasaki, WSU instructor and daughter of Minoru Yamasaki; Kuninori Matsuda, consul general of Japan in Detroit; David Campbell, president of the McGregor Fund; Brian Conway, director of the State Historic Preservation Office; and John Gallagher, Detroit Free Press columnist and author.

“Today’s opening is a tribute to so many people who are passionate about this university and about progress in our Midtown community,” President Gilmour said. “Progress in this case has been an act of preservation, blending classic designs with new updates. It is a place of inspiration once again for Wayne State and for Detroit.”

View photos from the event.

The renovation was supported in part by estate gifts from two alumni. These alumni were Andre Malo (SBA ’49, MBA ’57) who passed away in 2001, and Edmund Rosenthal (CLAS ’73, Law ’74) who passed away in 2010. The bequests of both Malo and Rosenthal were realized and used to support the project. In addition, alumna Carol Jonson (CLAS ’71, M.CLAS ’72) has created a planned gift that will establish an endowed fund to help support the ongoing maintenance of the pool and the surrounding sculpture gardens.

“I’ve always had this fondness for that particular area of campus,” Jonson said, though the Florida resident was unable to attend the dedication ceremony. “It used to be such a tranquil, beautiful place to sit.” Through her planned gift, she also is supporting special collections in the library and scholarships for graduate students in English.

“Now that the pool and courtyard have been restored to be as they were envisioned 58 years ago,” Carol Yamasaki told the gathering, “I can just imagine my father beaming with delight. The McGregor Memorial Center was the first and one of his favorite examples of the actualization to bring serenity, surprise and delight into urban architecture.”

Standing in the shadow of the McGregor Memorial Conference Center, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2011, the speakers ceremoniously poured pitchers of water into the pool marking its official reopening.

“Here we see the pools as Minoru Yamasaki envisioned them,” John Gallagher said near the close of the ceremony. “Now ready once again to last the ages. On behalf of all fans of architecture, I offer a very heartfelt, ‘Well done!’”

(May 2, 2013)

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