This week in our ongoing series on glass construction, we look at the General Motors Technical Center in Warren, MI. The GM Technical Center was one of the very first buildings to make heavy use of architectural glass, when it was initially designed in 1949.
The Technical Center was designed by neofuturistic architect Eero Saarinen. Saarinen studied architecture in Paris, beginning in 1929. He completed his studies at Yale University in 1934. Saarinen’s design style was influenced by Bauhaus designers and architects, including Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Although he did not study at the Bauhaus, Saarinen often designed furniture, some of which –like his Tulip Chair – is considered iconic for its time period.
Saarinen also designed buildings and other structure. One of his most recognizable designs is the iconic St. Louis Gateway Arch. In addition to the General Motors Technical Center, Saarinen designed a number of corporate buildings, including headquarters for IBM, Bell Laboratories, CBS and John Deere. He also designed the TWA Terminal at JFK Airport in New York, and the main terminal at Dulles International Airport.
The GM Technical Center is situated on a 700-acre campus and contains dozens of buildings. Its main building was added to the National Register of Historic Places, and has also been designated as a National Historical Landmark.
One of the features of Saarinen’s original site design is the “Design Dome,” a 185-foot diameter dome that is capped with interlocking aluminum panels and glass walls. Every GM product produced since 1956 has been introduced on the dome’s shadowless design floor. GM recently refurbished the Design Dome. One of the upgrades includes computer controlled white and colored LED lighting to accentuate the products on the Design Dome floor.
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Photo Credit: Gabriel Jorby, via Flickr.com