Chrysler HQ Designed To Convert Into Shopping Mall

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Viewed from above, Chrysler’s corporate headquarters in Auburn Hills appears to be a shopping mall. This is not an accident.

BusinessWeek published an article two weeks ago about the value of Chrysler’s various assets in anticipation of its bankruptcy, which has since happened. Here’s the most interesting bit:

The Chrysler headquarters building is a spectacular sight from I-75 in Michigan. But the Auburn Hills edifice and its sprawling campus sit in the middle of one of the most economically depressed areas in the country. When the building was erected in the early 1990s, it was designed so it could be repurposed into a shopping mall without too much modification if the perennially troubled Chrysler should go out of business. But there is no interest in another shopping mall in a commercial corridor where unemployment and foreclosure rates are both above 20%, and one of the best-performing malls in the state, The Somerset Collection, sits 15 minutes away in Troy, Mich.


Unsurprisingly, no mention of this is made on the site of SmithGroup, the company which designed the building in the 80s:

Chrysler’s mandate for their new U.S. headquarters was that it be “forward looking, contemporary, and strong with a prominent signature.” Its curved glass tower is an aerodynamic exclamation point to the 500-acre site, and is highly visible from Interstate 75. The 35-foot tall Pentastar window at the top of the tower proclaims a powerful corporate identity and reflects changing conditions of natural light. Inside, the Pentastar is a dramatic accent for the top floor.

Glass-enclosed offices and dome-shaped skylights enliven the workplace throughout the building. Teamwork concepts are facilitated by the design of the complex, helping Chrysler to operate more efficiently on every level.


We learned of the building’s dual-use design from a segment on NPR’s May 2 edition of Wait Wait, Don't Tell Me—which is online now.


UPDATE: We did forget one minor distinction between Chrysler's HQ and a mall.


Source: BusinessWeek, Photo Credit: USGS, SmithGroup, Hat Tip to Samu Szemerey