Architectural Sheet Metal by CASS Sheet Metal - Detroit MI

Lurie Bell Tower on U of M North Campus

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CASS Sheet Metal Restoration & Repair of the Lurie Bell Tower

News article from SNIPS Magazine - October 1997 - Volume 66 - Number 8

Hear the Bells! Old World Craftsmanship used in modern Memorial Tower.

A little history about the Bell Tower: The Ann and Robert H. Lurie Tower, a memorial built in 1996 for Michigan alumnus Robert H. Lurie, is located on North Campus at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. It houses a 60-bell grand carillon, one of the university’s two grand carillons; the other is housed in Burton Tower on Central Campus. These are two of only 23 grand carillons in the world.

The Lurie Tower was designed by Michigan alumnus Charles Moore (AB ’47, Hon Arch Ph.D. ’92), with the structural engineering done by Robert M. Darvas Associates. The tower was dedicated in October 1996. A gift of the “Ann and Robert H. Lurie Family Foundation,” it has 60 bells. Ann Lurie of Chicago donated $12 million in memory of her husband, Robert H. Lurie (BSE ’64, MSE ’66), to help fund the construction of North Campus buildings, including a bell tower. Completed in late 1995, the 167-foot (50.9 m) tall bell tower is a significant landmark on the evolving North Campus.

The bells of this grand carillon are lighter in weight than the Burton Tower’s 53-bell carillon. They were cast in bronze at the Royal Eijsbouts bell foundry in Asten, Netherlands in the customary proportion of 80 percent copper to 20 percent tin. The North Campus bourdon bell weighs in at six tons.

Laurie Bell Tower – U of M Campus – Ann Arbor, MI

Ann Arbor, MI – Sixty beautifully engraved bronze bells from the Netherlands are just one part of a magnificently crafted tower recently finished on the grounds of the University of Michigan North campus here.

This is an unusual structure in more ways than one. Detroit-based Custom Architectural Sheet Metal Specialists Inc. (C.A.S.S.) crafted 400 sheet of 20 oz. copper in the roof and flat seamed siding, as well as decorative A-shaped panels surrounding the tower.

This job required close cooperation and quite a bit of inspiration among those involved, from architect to craftsmen.
“Beautiful workmanship” is how many people describe the finished project.

Seven-year-old CASS’s work is 100% architectural sheet metal. On a recent visit by SNIPS, the shop area was empty, a sign that its 13 employees were busy working outside on some of Detroit’s highest profile building projects. Another example is the recent restoration of the 100-plus year old Saint Anne’s church on the city’s far south side.

“The most rewarding thing about being an architectural sheet metal contractor is meeting and conquering challenging projects that carry a difficulty level far in excess of the normal day-to-day metal roofing business,” Parvin said. He is a member of SMACNA’s Architectural Sheet Metal Council steering committee and will discuss some of the company’s more note-worthy efforts at the October convention in Las Vegas.

The bell tower used 4,000 one-inch brass acorn nuts at about $6 a piece: some serve as anchors into the concrete, while others are merely decorative and much in the way of hand work to accomplish. A special form had to be fabricated to hold the screws in position as they were leaded and soldered into place.

Also innovative was the way the workers tackeled the 200 foot tower, often using scaffolding and a rig called a Scan Climber. There’s nary a square corner in the tower, which complicated the layout procedure – all angles of the inner arch are skewed, as well as two ceramic niched set into the pillars.

There’s nary a square corner in the tower, which complicated the layout procedure – all angles of the inner arch are skewed, as well as two ceramic niched set into the pillars.

A laser benchmark had to be used to establish true vertical liunes for the A-panels. Some of the bells weigh as much as 8,000 pounds, and were made by Royal Eijsbouts, which also built the stainless steel control system for the bells and their structural steel supporting  frame. The Robert H. Lurie Memorial Tower was built at a cost of $5 million, dedicated to the memory of Robert H. Lurie, a U of M school of engineering alumnus who made a fortune in real estate. He renovated many older buildings in the area and at one time was a owned of the Chicago Bulls.

Toronto based Ellis-Don Contruction was the general contractor on the job. The tower itself is cast in place concrete, with brick veneer supported on galvanized steel relief angles.

Parvin credits the leadmen on the project for its success. Greg Gietek, project manager/estimator, had to sift through a complex set of drawings picking out pieces of copper at different levels that were difficult to find, let alone create a hard labor and material bid. “There was nothing missed on this project.” The craftsmen were led by 43-year veteran Eugene Lovasz and 30-plus year man Ed Skowron. The company’s field is directed by vice president Chet Klos, a 40-year sheetmetal craftsman.

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04 Ann Arbor Bell Tower Repair CASS Sheet Metal Detroit
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CASS Sheetmetal Specialists

Laurie Bell Tower U of M Campus

Restoration & Repair

SNIPS Magazine

October 1997

Volume 66 – Number 8

What is a carillon?

A carillon is a musical instrument consisting of at least two octaves of bells arranged in a chromatic series and played from a keyboard that permits control of expression through variations of touch. A carillon bell is a cast bronze cup-shaped bell whose overtones are in such harmonious relationship to each other as to permit multiple bells to be sounded together.

The carillon developed in the area of Europe that is now the Netherlands, Belgium, and northern France in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. There are over 180 carillons in North America, and new ones are installed every year.

The carillon keyboard, located in a small room at the center of the bell chamber, is connected to the bells via a system of wires, levers, and springs. To play the bells, the carillonist uses loosely-closed fists to push down wooden keys, which are arranged like the keys of a piano keyboard. The lowest bells may also be played from a pedal keyboard. No electricity is required for the functioning of this system.