As a motoring journalist, I find myself living in hotels, at times more often than I would like. But that’s the nature of the job, especially one whose events and activities happen as much abroad as it does in my home country.
But as hotels go, there is one particular hotel that strikes a chord in this car enthusiast’s heart. And that hotel is the 73-story, 1298-room Detroit Marriott Hotel. It’s a special hotel not just because it is the second tallest all-hotel skyscraper in the western hemisphere, but because it is tallest and the central tower in the spectacular GM Renaissance Center interconnected seven-tower complex.
The RenCen, as it is fondly called by locals, is located on the International Riverfront and serves as the world headquarters of General Motors. The whole complex is so massive—a staggering half-a-million square meters of floor area—that it’s considered a city within a city. It’s one of the world’s largest commercial complexes. Aside from the hotel, there is a shopping center, numerous restaurants, convenience stores, and banks. There is a beautiful and expansive five-story Wintergarden atrium that faces the river.
Perhaps the biggest irony behind this GM headquarters is that it was originally conceptualized by Henry Ford II and the construction financed by the Ford Motor Company in 1971. It wasn’t until 1996 when GM bought the complex. Conveniently, the RenCen is just a few blocks away from Cobo Hall, the huge convention center where the annual North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) is held.
Of course having been under the arms of two of America’s biggest carmakers would leave an indelible impression. And this impression is plain to see when you look down from the building’s vast network of glass walkways and footbridges. There you will see an assortment of gleaming automobiles, from the latest models to heritage classics, from one-off concept cars to world championship-winning racecars. All from General Motors brands, of course.
Among the cars are interspersed several chairs and tables where visitors can sit and relax while admiring the cars or where executives can entertain visitors. Yet another impressive aspect of the automotive exhibit is the cordoned inner ring display that mimics a rolling road on which various GM racecars take pride of place.
Next time you’re in Detroit, check out the GM RenCen. Whether you’re a fan of cars or a fan of architecture, you’ll definitely find something that will impress and amaze you.