The motor city is known for its tenacity. And the historic ruins of its once innovative Packard automobile plant illustrate this doggedness. On touring the plant—now undergoing a long term renovation— the perseverance of the city's graffiti artists and local flora are similarly striking.
In 1904, architect Albert Kahn designed The Packard Plant’s building #10 using his brother Julius Kahn’s innovative trussed concrete steel re-bar reinforcement system—The Kahn bar. With this technique, they were able to build floors, ceilings and columns entirely out of reinforced concrete allowing for floor-to-ceiling windows and wide open spaces. Revolutionizing the auto factory, Packard expanded to employ 40,000 workers in four million square until it stopped production in the late 1950s.
In 2012, international developer Arte Express Detroit, LLC purchased the abandoned, 40 acre site and has begun a long-term restoration project “to bring back opportunity, jobs and commerce to the east side of Detroit”. It's easy to envision this impressive cluster of modern buildings as artist live/work lofts, community centers, art galleries and retail spaces.
Formal tours (for those 18 and older) are available on Saturdays and Sundays through Pure Detroit.