Encyclopedia Of Detroit

Renaissance Center

In 1971, civic leaders in Detroit, led by Henry Ford II, announced plans for an ambitious project that would transform Detroit’s skyline and, hopefully, set the city on the road to renaissance in the aftermath of the turbulent 1960s.  Construction began in 1973, with the first tower opening on July 1, 1976.  Architect John Portman designed a 73-story hotel, flanked by four 39-story office towers.  At the time, the hotel tower, which opened in 1977, was the tallest hotel in the world.

In 1996, the Renaissance Center was purchased by and became the world headquarters for General Motors.  The company immediately prepared plans to give the complex a “facelift” and a $500 million dollar renovation was completed in 2003.  The Renaissance Center is large enough to have its own zip code and occupies more than 14 acres of land.  More than 10,000 people work in the buildings daily.  



View of the Renaissance Center from the Riverwalk, 1985 - 2009.019.444c

View of the riverfront showing the Renaissance Center, 1979 - 2010.033.255

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