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Detroit, Michigan

Packard Automotive Plant

The concrete shell of an industry giant remains as a playground for graffiti artists, auto scrappers, and paintball warriors. 

Built between the years 1903 and 1911, Detroit’s Packard Automotive Plant was once considered the most advanced auto production facility of the era.

The complex consists of over 3 million square feet of manufacturing and office space, and it is now one of the largest abandoned buildings in the world. It is so large that from a nearby highway overpass it appears as a great gray streak spanning almost the entire horizon. In person the plant is simply massive: the entire facility sits on over 40 acres, is more than a half mile long, and wider than two football fields.

Designed by famous Michigan Architect Albert Khan, the Packard Plant represents an early example of what would become standard Detroit industrial architecture, and came in the early years of what would be a prodigious career for Khan. He would go on to design buildings for Ford and GM, as well as many for the University of Michigan. Having ceased major operations in 1958, the Packard Plant sits as a relic, a poignant reminder of Detroit’s faded industrial might.

Other businesses have occupied parts of the Plant from time to time, and in recent years it has become a popular location for movie scouts and urban explorers. The extra attention these activities have garnered has resulted in a tightening of security around the facility. Still, it remains one of Detroit’s most recognized and intriguing abandoned buildings. In late 2012, a Peruvian developer purchased the Packard Complex, after failed attempts by two other investors to purchase the property.  The future of the development is unclear, but the goal is to redevelop the Packard Plant as a mixed development of residential and commercial property.