Encyclopedia Of Detroit

General Motors Building/Cadillac Place

The General Motors Building is a high-rise office complex located in the New Center area of Detroit. The building was constructed of steel, limestone, granite, and marble between 1919 and 1923 for General Motors, designed by noted Detroit architect, Albert Kahn.

In 1919, General Motors founder William C. Durant began construction of a permanent company headquarters on West Grand Boulevard between Cass and Second Avenues. The building was originally named after Durant but following a power struggle at General Motors in 1921, it was renamed the General Motors Building. A “D” above the entrance and elsewhere on the building is evidence of the earlier name.

When it opened in 1923, it was the second largest office building in the world, in capacity. Designed in a neo-classical architectural style rising fifteen stories, it is 220 feet tall. The façade of the building was constructed in limestone, crowned with a two-story Corinthian colonnade. The base of the building is two stories tall with four parallel fifteen-story wings designed to allow sunlight to reach each of the hundreds of individual offices in the building.

In 1985 the building was named a National Historic landmark. It functioned as General Motors world headquarters from 1923 through 2000, when the headquarters moved to the Renaissance Center on the Detroit River.

In the 1940s, the building was connected to the adjacent Argonaut Building, which housed the General Motors Research Laboratory, by a pedestrian bridge on the fifth floor. This bridge has since been removed. Additionally, a parking structure was constructed across Cass Avenue, which is also connected by a pedestrian bridge. In the early 1980s, a third bridge was built to connect the building with New Center One and the Hotel St. Regis, across Grand Boulevard.

In 1999, the property was transferred from General Motors to New Center Development, a non-profit venture, and in 2000, renovation began on the upper floors. Renovation lasted until 2002, and upon reopening it was renamed Cadillac Place as a tribute to Detroit’s founder, Antoine Laumet de la Mothe Cadillac. Presently, the building houses offices for the State of Michigan.



Photo of the General Motors Building, 1920s

View of the General Motors Building from the Fisher Building, 1928

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