The former Studebaker car plant in South Bend, Indiana, is undergoing a complete transformation. At nearly a century old, the complex will be reborn as a major technology hub for the entire Midwest. Working on the design is Chicago-based Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture (AS+GG).
Dubbed the Renaissance District, the project broke ground nearly two years ago, with the first phase expected to be completed by this summer. The project is so large that companies have already moved into portions of the former plant. When completed the complex will include a 150,000-square-foot data center, a 230,000-square-foot workspace platform with commercial, incubator, and educational space, a 58,000-square-foot education center with classrooms, learning center, and auditorium, a 88,000-square-foot commerce platform with a fitness center, daycare, retail, and food services, and 100,000 square feet of housing.
The large north section of the complex was designed by Detroit-based Albert Kahn in 1923. The six-story reinforced concrete structure was state of the art at the time, designed to host an automobile assembly line. While the process of building cars was generally linear, the AS+GG’s design will enable to the multi-directional, multi-discipline approach of today’s technology industry.
The housing in the project will take the form of a long-term hotel and serviced apartments that groups or organizations can rent for weeks, months, or years, depending on their needs. Both the housing portion and commercial portions of the project will include landscaped green roofs and terraces. A large courtyard will also provide outdoor gathering space on the east end of the project. This landscaped courtyard will act as the center of the project for workers and visitors. A 200-seat auditorium will “float” above the east courtyard.
The hope is that the project will act as an example for a post-industrial city looking to address economic and development issues on complex sites.