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Chrysler Group World Headquarters and Technology Center

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1986–1991, CRSS Inc.; HEPY/PHH; Giffels Associates; 1993–1996 tower headquarters, SmithGroup. 800 Chrysler Dr.

This mammoth megastructure is Chrysler's high-technology center for automotive research and development. Its four-story, 3.3-million-square-foot building sprawls over 40 acres of its 500-acre site. An executive tower rises fifteen stories. A 1.8-mile evaluation road is on the eastern portion of the site. The center cost nearly $1 billion to build. The building's rounded corners and its sleek and shiny tinted glass and polished brownish-red granite exterior skin are intended to evoke the imagery of the automobile.

The center accommodates employees engaged in all aspects of design, engineering, manufacturing, procurement, and supply necessary for the development of new car and truck models. Each of four office/laboratory wings is bisected by a skylit concourse or atrium, punctuated, in turn, with pyramidal domes that connect the whole. The four quadrants pivot around the Technology Plaza at the crossing, above which rises a huge pyramidal dome. Lee Iacocca, then chair of Chrysler, stated at the dedication in October 1991, “Anyone who sees the place gets a strong message about Chrysler's long-term future.” The stately, self-contained, well-digested Postmodern technology center invites comparison with the campus-style General Motors Technical Center ( MB3), designed by the Saarinens and built in the 1950s during the height of the International Style. In 2009 Chrysler filed for bankruptcy and reorganized with a federal government bailout; in 2010 Chrysler still uses the center.

Writing Credits

Kathryn Bishop Eckert

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