in 1899, james ward packard, a mechanical engineer, began designing and producing cars in response to his disappointment in a recently purchased whinton horseless carriage. the luxury cars sold for 2-5 times the price of the competition and soon gained a reputation for quality.
designed and built in 1903, by albert kahn , the so-called architect of detroit, the packard plant was considered the most modern manufacturing facility in the world. when it was sited on 35 acres in central detroit, the structure of the 3.5 million sf facility was before its time, being the first to use reinforced concrete. despite repeated fires and years of neglect, it remains a looming reminder of the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit of the motor city.