To Be or Not to Be an Autotown: Four Case Studies

  • Andreas Luescher
  • Sujata Shetty


This chapter examines the relationship between auto communities and the plants in their midst, as they transition from being decommissioned to serving other uses. Four plants, General Motors’ Assembly Plant in Janesville, Wisconsin; the Willow Run Assembly Plant in Ypsilanti near Detroit, Michigan; Adam Opel’s plants in Bochum, Germany; and Ford’s Genk Body & Assembly in Belgium, were chosen for their historical significance, location near urban corridors, economic impact, architectural and land use strategies, and size (around 4 million square feet). Additionally, all were shut down within the last decade. We briefly describe the context and history in each case, addressing the decision-making process that occurred before the plants were closed, the roles played by different levels of government and other decision-makers, incentives and compromises that were discussed in an attempt to prevent the plants from closing, and the effects of closure on the labor force and the larger community. Studying two plants in Europe and two in USA allows us to highlight some broad parallels and differences.


Autotown Janesville, WI Willow Run, MI Bochum, Germany Genk, Belgium 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andreas Luescher
    • 1
  • Sujata Shetty
    • 2
  1. 1.College of Technology, Architecture and Applied Engineering, Department of Architecture and Environmental DesignBowling Green State UniversityBowling GreenUSA
  2. 2.Jack Ford Urban Affairs Center, Department of Geography and PlanningThe University of ToledoToledoUSA

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