• May 5, 2009
Chrysler HQ a mall? Click above for high-res image gallery

Leave it to our friends at Jalopnik to discover this most interesting fact about Chrysler's headquarters in Auburn Hills, Michigan. The 500-acre site that's crowned by a glass tower with a 35-foot tall Pentastar window visible from I-75 was reportedly designed in such a way that it can be easily converted into a shopping mall if something like, oh, we don't know, bankruptcy happens and the smallest of the Detroit 3 is forced to move out. How's that for confidence from your architect?

Jalopnik reports that SmithGroup, the firm responsible for the design, makes no mention of its creation's dual-use capability, though BusinessWeek published an article two weeks ago, before Chrysler filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization, that claims the site can go from auto HQ to home of the GAP, Lane Bryant and Cinnabon like a being from Cybertron. You won't be exchanging your Levis in outgoing Chrysler CEO Robert Nardelli's office anytime soon, though, as the location of Chrysler's headquarters is not an ideal one for opening a mall. The traditionally economically depressed region couldn't buy enough polos and khakis to sustain a mall that big, and there's the completely awesome Somerset Collection not 15 minutes away in Troy, and it's got an Apple Store.



[Source: BusinessWeek, Jalopnik]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 40 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      It's just like...It's just like... a mini-mall - Hey Hey!

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FJ3oHpup-pk
      • 5 Years Ago
      So why are all the atriums octagonal, not pentagonal?
      • 5 Years Ago
      I spoke with Steve Miller, who is currently chairman of Delphi. He was part of Chrysler when this facility was planned and developed and said that this is merely a rumor and that the facility was never planned to be a mall if the company went under. Also, the tower was built years later after the rest of the complex and was designed by a different architect than that of the technology center portion.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I've been there and can see how that would work, but if they went out of business, who in the area would be shopping anyway? There are plenty of empty stores and malls in the area already.

      Chrysler will be reborn again.
      • 5 Years Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      This is starting to get stupid!
      • 5 Years Ago
      In my opinion, the Somerset Collection is the Cadillac of malls. Would that make this mall the Chrysler of malls or the Mercedes-Benz of malls?
      • 5 Years Ago
      Actually, this would an excellent location for a technical school, college or university. Maybe an alternate Michigan or MSU campus to focus on transition training for all of the currently and soon to be unemployed autoworkers.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Well what if Chrysler builds a manufacturing plant that can easily be converted into a tank or a train manufacturing facility, it would make a plant now much more attractive to companies who are not in automotive business. This is called planning ahead, keeping all options open.

      Plus in this day and age a company DOES NOT need one central facility, a company can operate with one small HQ unit and multiple small locations. I can see how you guys are coming with a conclusion you have, but i can understand Chrysler here, they realized that down the road they may chose to move because they will not need all that space, or they may chose to relocate to a less union friendly state, or for any other reason. I believe Mazda and Honda are based in California, with this mall converting option Chrysler has the ability to leave MI for good.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @ tuxchown,

        No, there are many union workers there. For example, many of the advanced powertrain engineers are UAW members. When the department started out, they were located in a factory and according to their contract at the time, they had to be UAW members. The whole department is UAW to this day, even if they never set foot in that original factory.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @txu
        Actually, there are a lot of union workers there. All the test lab workers and CAD designers are union. There's also the pilot plant and I believe the maintenance workers are also unionized.

        It's not just management, it's design, testing, building, you name it they do it there.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Chrysler headquarters is neither a plant nor is it unionized. It's a management facility.
      • 5 Years Ago
      This exact story was told to me by an employee of Chrysler while giving me a tour of the HQ, and if you've been inside the Chrysler HQ it makes sense. He said the headquarters was built in the early 80's when Chrysler wasn't doing too hot financially, so they were required to build it that way in order to get the funding for construction. That way if Chrysler went under, the property could easily be converted to another use, a mall.

      I don't think this is some dirty little secret they don't want you to know. It's not like the offices look like you're sitting in an Abercrombie & Fitch. It just means it's laid out in long stretches like a mall, and it's a nice place except that it's enormous.
        • 5 Years Ago
        the Auburn Hills Technical Center was built in the 90s...
      • 5 Years Ago
      What about paying a couple dollars for some hot laps on the test track behind the building?
      • 5 Years Ago
      It's true, and this isn't really news. It's actually common knowledge, at least in that area.

      The lower parts of it are exactly like a 2 floor mall. All escalators and white marble floors, with the office areas walled off behind "storefronts". Even the parking garage feels like Somerset Collection.

      Dunno what they would do with the executive tower though.
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