Burton Memorial Bell Tower is the first bit of campus many people ever see.

Jessica Boullion
Burton Tower is the tallest building on campus at 212 feet high. Although not the tallest building in Ann Arbor, it can be seen from I-94 and beyond. (ALLISON GHAMAN/Daily)

Driving down Interstate 94, the tower can occasionally be seen poking through the trees, a landmark and timepiece for residents of Ann Arbor.

Although a number of apartment buildings now stand taller than Burton Tower, including the 28-story Tower Plaza condominium on East William Street and the 19-story University Towers apartment building on South University Avenue, Burton Tower is still the tallest building on campus.

Built in 1936 and named after former University President Marion Burton, the tower stands 212 feet tall. The next highest buildings on campus are the University Hospital and Cancer Center, both of which are 192 feet tall.

Burton Tower contains the Charles Baird Carillon, named for the University’s first athletic director. It has an observation deck above the building’s ninth story where visitors can look at the carillon’s 55 bells or take in a panoramic view of campus.

To the north of Burton Tower is the partially-demolished Frieze Building, where yellow construction equipment continued to tear away the building’s crumbling walls this weekend.

To the east, buildings in the University Hospital complex stand on the fringe of campus as the trees in the Arboretum touch the horizon.

To the south, the Hatcher Graduate Library and Michigan Union stand out. Behind them, Michigan Stadium and Crisler Arena are barely visible. Beyond the trees that make Ann Arbor famous, Pittsfield Township’s white water tower can be seen in the distance.

LSA junior Tara Whipkey said the tower is such an important University landmark because it can be seen all over campus. She said she likes to hear the bells toll across campus each day.

Whipkey and a friend climbed the tower on Friday to gain a new aerial perspective on campus, she said. She said it was a more impressive perspective than the view from the stacks of the Hatcher Graduate Library.

The top of Burton Tower is also a destination for students learning to play the carillon. Engineering senior Jin Wei Ni, who learned to play the tower’s carillon in a School of Music class called Carillon 100, takes her turn playing the instrument with other carillon students.

Ni said she enjoys the view from the building and doesn’t want to see taller buildings built on campus.

“I think it should stay the tallest building around here,” she said.


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