The surprising Collegiate Gothic styling makes this waterworks look more like a stone-clad university building than a water treatment facility. The waterworks purifies and pumps cold water taken originally from the Saginaw River but, since 1949, from an intake at Whitestone Point on Lake Huron to the city and surrounding communities. Matteson, a Chicago architect noted for water plant designs, created the beautiful and functional architecture for the Saginaw Water Works. The three interconnected buildings, clothed and arranged inside and out in Collegiate Gothic, stand in the center of Ezra Rust Park, near a small lake.
The buttressed central tower contains a 125,000-gallon steel water tank that stores water used to backwash the filters. Beneath the tower are the vestibule and cross-vaulted lobby, and to the rear are the administrative offices and laboratories. The east wing houses the gallery of eighteen filters, whose operating tables are made of Italian green serpentine marble topped with polished Belgian black marble. The west wing holds the pumping station. The treatment section is at the rear.
Matteson also designed waterworks modeled after the Saginaw plant in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in 1926–1929, and in Fort Wayne, Indiana, in 1931–1935.