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Lurie Bell Tower on U of M North Campus

CASS Sheet Metal Restoration & Repair of the Bell Tower

The Lurie Tower on North Campus – Ann Arbor 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.

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04 Ann Arbor Bell Tower Repair CASS Sheet Metal Detroit
05 SNIPS Magazine CASS Ann Arbor Bell Tower News Article

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.