Detroit Throwback Thursday: Photos Of The Renaissance Center Under Construction

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GM Rencen Under Construction. GM Rencen Facebook/IMGUR

The General Motors Renaissance Center (which was actually championed by Henry Ford II and housed some Ford offices for awhile), love it or hate it, is an iconic part of Detroit’s skyline. Announced in 1971, the first office tower opened in 1976. It’s the General Motors RenCen thanks to a purchase in 1996 where they moved from their headquarters in New Center to the Portman-designed structure on the riverfront.

The GM Rencen Facebook page shared these really interesting images from the construction of the Renaissance Center. It’s amazing to see it in parts set against pretty familiar scenery. Many of the new residents to the city have never seen a massive construction project downtown. It has seen some changes since completion, including the activation of the Detroit Riverfront which has been a real asset and turned around what was formerly an industrial strip by the river into something that can be enjoyed by everyone. At the end, we’ve included a picture we took of the RenCen from recent times.

Rencen construction sign

General Motors Rencen

GM Rencen under construction

GM Rencen Construction with river

GM Rencen from Atwater

GM Rencen

GM Rencen Construction

Gm Rencen


For more, check out the GM RenCen Facebook page and here’s the source on IMGUR.

  • I was 6 years old in 1974bwhen my father was hired by the Tishman corporation as part of their general contracting team at the ren cen. I have wonderful memories of exploring the build with my pops on Saturday mornings as he double checked progress on interior offices and finishes, terrifying rides on that glass elevator that was better than any boblo ride and one amazing memory of viewing the fireworks by looking down at them while dad and his co workers enjoyed a very boozy 4th of july party. The Ren was never quite the phoenix that Detroit needed but I have always loved it for what it means to me personally and I was incredibly proud to tour it recently with my son who was born after my dad passed on..Your grandpa helped build this…and building things is what detroiters do best…Thanks for the memories today.

  • As a kid, I remember so much hope and optimism surrounding the construction. People were excited. Halston, Ungaro, Cartier, Courreges, Valentino, Mark Cross, Charles Jourdan, David Wachler and Sons, HATTIE, FAO and others. Ren Cen was glamorous!

  • The Ren Cen to me is about the iron workers of local 25 who set and detailed all that iron in time and under budget. Men like Mark Morton, Al Friend, Tom Clarke, Bill Chivas and many others. The way they went about their work every day with quality and safety. I will keep the faith of those men of yesterday today and tomorrow and pass their way onto the young men of today and tomorrow. I have the utmost love and respect for all of them.

    Yours Truly,
    Art G Kazyak

  • I remember going there right when it opened because my Dad’s company sold heating and cooling to them. I thought it was the cooles place ever.
    I also remember for a short time when there was a Halston and a Courreges and ither very high end stores there. ( late 70’s). I went to a fashion school at the time, and we did an event where we had to model in the windows and pretend we were mannequins. It was so much fun.

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