Quinn Evans Architects set the goal for restoring the character-defining features of the McGregor reflecting pool, while employing new strategies and technologies to ensure its functional and aesthetic longevity.

In 2011, Wayne State University embarked on a $1.8 million restoration of the McGregor reflecting pool and sculpture gardens. By carefully examining the pool’s original construction and Minoru Yamasaki’s other relevant work, the project team was able to reestablish the purity of the original design and return functionality to the pool while improving its performance.


  • Restored historic reflecting pool and sculpture gardens
  • Provided new filtration and sanitation systems
  • Repaved terrace to allow accessible movement
  • 23,000 SF
  • Originally designed by Architect Minoru Yamasaki and constructed in 1958
  • Listed on the National Register Of Historic Places


  • 2014 Richard H. Driehaus National Preservation Award
  • 2015 Docomomo US Civic/Institutional Design Citation of Merit
  • 2014 Governor’s Award for Historic Preservation, State of Michigan
  • 2014 Cultural Landscape Award, Michigan Historic Preservation Network
  • 2015 Keep Michigan Beautiful Award of Merit

Modern Masterpiece Restored

The project was meticulously and precisely deconstructed and reconstructed to ensure that the original design intent and aesthetic were restored. Once again, students are seen enjoying the tranquility of the sculpture gardens and reflecting pool in-between the hustle and bustle of classes; community and private events are regularly scheduled onsite to utilize the space for receptions and ceremonies; and the site is frequented by tours, including those hosted by Michigan Modern and the Society for Architectural Historians. 

“I believe that Yama would be totally pleased…To have the beauty now faithfully restored by Wayne State would be a remarkable joy for him.”

Henry Guthard, a personal friend and former partner of Yamasaki 

Precision in Preservation

Prior to the commencement of work, advanced laser scanning technology recorded the precise location and orientation of each landscape element. The large, stone boulders set in the water, as well as the sculptures located on each island, were then carefully tagged, removed, stored, and protected, preserving them for reinstallation after construction. Following completion of the pool shell and adjacent terrace work, the project team assembled onsite with a portfolio of photographs and a full laser scan of the reflecting pool to guide the reinstallation of each boulder and sculpture.