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Argonaut Building (General Motors Research Laboratory)

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General Motors Research Laboratory
1928–1930, Albert Kahn; 2009–2010 rehabilitation, Walbridge, Albert Kahn Associates, and SDG Associates. 435 W. Milwaukee St.

This large Art Deco office building rises ten stories above a raised basement in an empowerment zone designated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Brick and limestone clad its exterior walls, encasing 760,000 square feet of interior space.

GM donated the long-vacant former laboratory building and symbol of its dominance in the auto industry to the College for Creative Studies (CCS). Here CCS, in collaboration with Henry Ford Learning Institute, intends to create a second campus and reuse the building as an arts-focused educational center with a charter high school for art-centric children, its graduate program, its industrial design undergraduate program, and housing for 300 students. Rehabilitation followed green building practices and systems that will lead to LEED certification. The costs are covered in part with historic tax credits, pledges, and foundations.

The transformation of the Argonaut Building speaks to the work underway to reinvent Midtown and Detroit away from an auto manufacturing–based economy to one based on service—in this case, art education.

Writing Credits

Kathryn Bishop Eckert


What's Nearby


Kathryn Bishop Eckert, "Argonaut Building (General Motors Research Laboratory)", [Detroit, Michigan], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Michigan

Buildings of Michigan, Kathryn Bishop Eckert. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2012, 95-95.

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