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GM's DesTech Campus in L.A.

Rendering of the planned exterior of the GM Advanced Design Center in Pasadena

General Motors Invests in New Advanced Design and Technology Campus in Southern California

A $71 million investment for the new 149,000-square-foot technology campus will significantly expand advanced design and innovation work in the region.

By Doug Stokes

Sun, Jul 18, 2021 05:36 PM PST

All images courtesy General Motors.

Facilities and vehicles shown are concept renderings.

It looks very much like GM is trying to get ever closer to the vaunted gates of automotive design ... (yay!)

With this recently-announced plan, General Motors can officially and forevermore lay claim to the high ground at the back door at the most famous design school of them all: the elegantly eponymous Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. All of the major automotive brands (both foreign and domestic) have (at one time or another) established design studios on the West Coast. The weather is good, the interest in automobiles is high, and the epicenter of car design learning, etc. is right up in the rolling foothills above the Rose Bowl.

With this announcement, GM can now closely observe and more easily skim off the most promising new phenom designers, early-on and easily - like pro ball teams luring college Juniors with mountains of money and lucrative endorsement contracts.

We didn't ask the GM people why they chose Pasadena for this new adventure in design ... really didn't feel any pressure to question them. What Willy Sutton said about banks, seems to ring true here...

a rendering of the proposed General Motors Advanced Design Center Interior
Obviously this is just a rendering, but just image this space filled with the great design and tech minds of SoCal.

Press Release from General Motors

PASADENA, Calif. – Today, General Motors announced a more than $71 million investment to establish a new campus in Pasadena, California, for GM’s Advanced Design Center operations, a move that will substantially increase the center’s capacity and create more jobs in the area.

The facility’s relocation from its existing space in North Hollywood to the nearly 149,000-square-foot campus will make room for expanded advanced technology teams that will help accelerate GM’s goal of zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion. The new site is closer to technology centers on the West Coast and creates a recruiting opportunity with its proximity to leading universities and design schools.

The investment also signals GM’s long-term commitment to maintain a physical presence in one of North America’s largest hubs for multidisciplinary design and cutting-edge innovation. The new campus, which sits on 8 acres, will expand GM’s capacity to support emerging business opportunities in areas of advanced technology, software integration and future mobility solutions.

rendering of the exterior of the proposed GM Advanced Design Center in Pasadena
As with renderings of concept vehicles, we assume that this isn't exactly what the final product might look like... But our hopes are held high.

“Having a physical presence in Southern California’s technology epicenter is an integral part of our global design operations and this new innovation campus will not only expand our operations twofold, but offers access to the rich cultural diversity and talent in the region,” said Michael Simcoe, GM vice president of Global Design. “Our positioning will allow us to attract dynamic candidates in fields that will bolster GM’s proven design capabilities and challenge conventional thinking of what our future portfolio of connected products and services can encompass.”

The announcement of the technology campus in Pasadena is part of GM Design’s broader global expansion. GM’s new Design West facility is currently under construction at the Global Technical Center in Warren, Michigan, and GM recently announced the expansion of the Advanced Design Center in Shanghai, China.

GM’s advanced design team focuses on developing concept and future mobility projects that fall outside the scope of existing production vehicle programs. Creating alternative mobility applications can reveal opportunities for transformative innovation and help influence future GM products and services, while exploring new growth opportunities for the company.

rendering of the interior of the General Motors Advanced Design Center in Los Angeles
That glass ceiling/roof looks awesome, sure, but it'll be interesting to see how the design team envisions cooling this room..?

Recent examples of innovation and design work linked to GM’s broader growth strategy include:

BrightDrop – the newly established commercial delivery and logistics business, backed by GM – and its all-electric ecosystem of products, software and services
Cadillac’s personal autonomous concept vehicle and vertical takeoff and landing aircraft
The lunar rover concept developed in partnership with Lockheed Martin
The new facility will amplify GM’s role in the age of connected mobility, providing the latest tools, equipment and workspaces that have been tactically designed to foster synergy and ideation, including:

A more efficient layout, designed to mitigate disruptions and increase efficiency of the various paint, metal and plastic workshops
An increased footprint allowing for improved output of physical and virtual proof of concepts and show cars
The ability to rapidly pilot visualization and immersive technology, including augmented and virtual reality
An innovation lab for designing, implementing and validating new design tools
An advanced user experience/user interface design studio
Dedicated collaboration, research and development space for strategic internal and external GM partnerships
The additional space enables GM to greatly expand its breadth of output, leveraging the new location to recruit top regional talent in disciplines of aerospace engineering, defense, automotive design, software development and advanced technology.

“The collaborative nature of this facility will provide our advanced design team, cross-functional groups, prospective employees and external partners with the environment they need to continually redefine the boundaries of future mobility,” said Bryan Nesbitt, GM executive director, Global Advanced Design and Global Architecture Studios.

Previous GM Design facilities in California include the Advanced Concept Studio in Newbury Park, from 1983 – 1996, and the current North Hollywood Studio, which celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2020.

The current North Hollywood Design Center will continue to be utilized for advanced design operations as work on the new facility is completed through the second half of 2022.

About The Author

Doug Stokes's profile picture

Doug Stokes

Doug has a long and wide-ranging history in the motoring business. He served five years as the Executive Director of the International Kart Federation, and was the PR guy for the Mickey Thompson's Off-Road Championship Gran Prix. He worked racing PR for both Honda and Suzuki and was a senior PR person on the first Los Angeles (Vintage) Grand Prix. He was also the first PR Manager for Perris Auto Speedway, and spent over 20 years as the VP of Communications at Irwindale Speedway. Stokes is the recipient of the American Autowriters and Broadcaster’s 2005 Chapman Award for Excellence in Public Relations and was honored in 2015 by the Motor Press Guild with their Dean Batchelor Lifetime Achievement Award. “… I’ve also been reviewing automobiles and books for over 20 years, and really enjoy my LA Car assignments.” he added.

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