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April 4, 2006

Interior design pioneer gives $2 million to U-M Cardiovascular Center

Auditorium of the new building to be named for Marvin and Betty Danto

ANN ARBOR, MI – Marvin Danto made his name as a leader in fine furnishings and interior design, founding both the Michigan Design Center and the Florida-based Design Center of the Americas to offer a wide range of finer interior furnishings under one roof. He was also President of the National Home Furnishings Association, a 16,000-store organization, and was active in that organization for many years.

CVC buildingNow, thanks to a $2 million gift to the University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center, his name will be known for helping to build a place where next-generation health care, clinical research and teaching will all happen under one roof.

The 350,000-square-foot, $215 million Cardiovascular Center clinical building, located next to the University Hospital on the U-M Health System’s main medical campus, will open in mid-2007.

With 48 hospital beds, eight operating rooms, 36 exam rooms and 11 invasive procedure areas, it will provide coordinated inpatient and outpatient diagnosis, treatment and follow-up care for adults with heart and blood vessel conditions. It will also be a center for the training of new cardiovascular doctors, nurses and allied health professionals, and for educational programs for the public and the medical community.

This dissemination of new knowledge and information about treatment is one of the reasons Mr. Danto and his wife Betty say they chose to give to the Cardiovascular Center. They admire the CVC’s efforts to generate new knowledge and new treatment options, and also to communicating that information to those who can benefit most, including helping people learn about the cardiovascular conditions that affect them and their families.

Fittingly, the U-M will name the building’s 100-seat auditorium, where lectures and seminars will take place, for the Dantos.

The gift also comes in gratitude for the care Mr. Danto has received from CVC co-director Kim Eagle, M.D., and in support of the center’s goal of changing the way cardiovascular disease is diagnosed and treated throughout the nation and world. “We feel very close and indebted to the University of Michigan hospital,” says Mr. Danto, who calls Dr. Eagle a “wonderful individual” and an “absolutely marvelous” physician.

“We are truly grateful for Marvin’s generosity, and his leadership in helping us build this new facility for all patients,” says Eagle, the Albion Walter Hewlett Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine in the Department of Internal Medicine at the U-M Medical School. “We’ll be proud to have his and Betty’s names on our auditorium, as a testament to their commitment.”

Mr. Danto had attended Wayne State University’s engineering school, and later entered the Army and was head of operations for four Ordnance facilities in England, France, Belgium and Italy. After his four-year Army career, he joined Englander Furniture and ultimately became Chairman and CEO of Englander-Triangle before leaving in 1973. He later founded Danto Investment Company and built the Michigan Design Center (MDC) in Troy, Mich. and the Design Center of the Americas (DCOTA) in Dania, Florida.

Two of his three children attended U-M: His son James graduated with a B.S. and M.S. in engineering, and his daughter Gail graduated with a B.A.. His eldest daughter, Joanne, attended New York University and danced with the Joffrey Ballet, as soloist with the Frankfurt Ballet Company in Germany, and with other ballet companies. She was also the Ballet Mistress at Teatro Filarmonica in Verona, Italy.

Mr. Danto founded DCOTA in 1982 and at 775,000 square feet, it is now the largest freestanding design center in the country. Like MDC, it gives designers and their clients access to the finest interior furnishings through the originally, innovative design of the structure.

James Danto headed the construction of DCOTA, and as president of Danto Investment Company, he has been an extremely important member of the firm. He has been in charge of operations and all construction for the past 20 years.

Mr. Danto is currently CEO and Chairman of Danto Investment Company and MDC. He is known internationally as a leader in bringing the best in design together under one very large roof, but also with his wife Betty is known for generously supporting many worthy causes in health care, education and the fine arts.

For instance, the Dantos recently funded the supporting grant for the Danto Family Home for the Elderly in West Bloomfield, Mich., and supported the construction of the Gulfcoast Wonder and Image Zone, or G-WIZ, a museum of science for children of all ages, and the Danto Center for the Sarasota Ballet, both in Florida.

For more information on the U-M Cardiovascular Center, visit

Written by Kara Gavin

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