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Lansing Board of Water and Light Dye Conditioning Plant (Cedar Water Conditioning Plant)

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Cedar Water Conditioning Plant
1938–1939, Black and Black. 148 S. Cedar St.

The Board of Water and Light Conditioning Plant is a reinforced-concrete building with glass-block windows and a formality achieved by the balancing wings around a central vertical entrance. The exterior is designed along severe geometric lines. Over the tall and narrow entrance is a relief sculpture of a large, stylized female figure, Aquarius the Water Bearer, who pours water from an urn to two small infants located beneath her feet and who symbolize the city of Lansing. It was done by Samuel A. Cashwan in 1938–1939.

Inside the conditioning plant are murals and a ceramic sculpture created under the Works Progress Adminstration (WPA) and devoted to a water theme. The second-floor lobby has three large murals by Frank Cassara showing the effects of water and the activities of building employees. In Water as a Destructive Element, people struggle against ravaging floodwaters, but in Water as a Positive Force, on the opposite wall, people harvest crops and live a bountiful life. Artist Charles Pollock, brother of abstract expressionist painter Jackson Pollock, covered one wall with images of figures doing scientific research and work corresponding with activities behind the doorway marked “Lab.” Other interior features of the building are in the Streamline Moderne style. The water filtration gallery contains aluminum railings with the curved simplified lines that echo the design of automobiles and trains. Such modernist designs executed in industrial materials add to the contemporary appearance that exemplified progress.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Kathryn Bishop Eckert

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