Ode to an Office Park

Book about Domino's Farms includes some surprises, author says
Tom Monaghan signs a copy of Domino's Farms: A Landmark Office Park in the Country

Tom Monaghan signs a copy of "Domino's Farms" by Bertie Bonnell at a reception Thursday evening at – where else? – Domino's Farms.

If you didn’t know that Thursday evening’s reception and book signing for “Domino’s Farms” by Bertie Bonnell was a special event, here’s a clue: Tom Monaghan’s dog, Sasha, got a bath for the occasion.

More than 100 people attended the reception at Domino’s Farms to mark the publication of the book, which is being distributed by the University of Michigan Press. It tells the story of how Monaghan conceived of and built the landmark office park, inspired by the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie Style. 

In his remarks to the group, the founder of Domino’s Pizza said he met Bonnell when she interviewed him for an article in the Ann Arbor Observer. The article was far shorter than the material she gathered, so he suggested she write a book – a suggestion she took to heart.

Tom Monaghan and Bertie Bonnell

Tom Monaghan and Bertie Bonnell.

Bonnell said when she first got to know Monaghan, he was a surprise to her – softspoken, “rather courtly and altogether pleasant.” She discovered his lifelong love of architecture, but said that his greatest talent was in “imagining something and making it happen.”

She interviewed dozens of people for the book, uncovering some unusual stories in the process. When steelworkers finished their part of the job during the winter of 1984, they called the Domino’s store on Plymouth Road to order a pizza – and were surprised when told “we don’t deliver there.” Rival Little Caesar’s was happy to – much to the chagrin of the general contractor at the work site.

The complex is a half-mile long, with the world’s largest copper roof, a herd of bison and a petting zoo. The office park also includes a café, fitness center, hair salon, art gallery, chapel and religious bookstore – Monaghan is known for his Catholic activism and philanthropy. He is founder of the Ave Maria Foundation, Ave Maria University and Thomas More Law Center, among other organizations.

The Chronicle didn’t keep a tally of how many people bought copies of the book, which were for sale at the reception, though we did spot John Hilton of the Ann Arbor Observer and local developer Ed Shaffran each making a purchase. Nor did we keep a tally of how many people made a point of petting Sasha – there were too many to count.


Sasha, who is often seen in the hallways of Domino's Farms, took a rest during Thursday's reception.

One Comment

  1. February 3, 2009 at 2:14 pm | permalink

    I used to work in the nearby Schlumberger building and have many fond memories of walking down the long basement corridor in Domino Farms on the way to the company pizza store!

    the other unsung benefit of the Domino Farm’s complex is that there was great nature walking in the forest to the east of the main entrance road and Schlumberger. I saw some big hedgehogs!