Since 1902, Cadillac has been at the forefront of automotive design, innovation, and craftsmanship. In a leading-edge expression of its brand, Cadillac House in Shanghai embodies its mantra to “dare greatly” with an immersive visitor experience that personifies the brand’s narrative and attracts China’s emerging creative class.
The LEED Platinum building visibly reflects the attitude, passion, and technological achievements of Cadillac while demonstrating an understanding of the modern Chinese culture. The custom stainless-steel façade expresses a sense of movement and quality that parallels the automaker's high-performance vehicles. Integrating Feng Shui design principles, the building's rounded exterior echoes a car's bow line and form providing dramatic highlights throughout the day and reflecting the many colors of the sky, while the reflecting pool embraces the coexistence of water, creating an illusion that the building is floating. The roof houses a glistening solar array that acts like a crown hovering above the building, and the Cadillac logo embossed into the building cantilever’s envelope is gently illuminated at night, announcing the covered entry and providing visual brand identity to the building.
Natural light is brought into the building through controlled apertures that transition from very transparent at the building’s base connecting visitors to the reflecting pool to highly dramatic and controlled as one ascends the spiral staircase and is then exposed to the large geometric skylight.
The project expresses the “world within Cadillac,” an inward perspective that explores the company’s past, present, and future; and “Cadillac in the world,” an outward perspective that focuses on its global image. Cadillac House translates this into a thematic, three-level visitor journey with hospitality at the ground floor, education at the second floor, and exclusivity at the third. As visitors ascend the building, the level of engagement with the brand narrative deepens, with cultural moments, digital and tactile exhibits, interactive touchpoints, and personalized moments to create a holistic journey.
At the ground floor, guests can visit the café and lounge, company store, and 360-degree theater, which features short films about Cadillac. A monumental and sculptural spiral staircase leads to the second level where an educational experience engages customers with both tactile and digital design elements, including a 3D badge timeline wall, a music library, digital storytelling totems, a car materials tunnel, and a souvenir customization opportunity. A spiral ramp leads to the third level, where a double-height art gallery hosts a rotating display from local artists. Finally, the third floor reveals an exclusive lounge, board-room, and reception area for partnership events, VIPs, and client-facing efforts. An interior lift allows cars to be driven into and moved onto different levels within the Cadillac House.
Located near SAIC-GM’s Cadillac Plant, Gensler also designed a ceremonial, on-site car delivery experience. From a panoramic viewpoint on the building’s third level, customers watch as their new cars are driven out to the reflecting pool’s center platform and celebrated with an illuminated water show.
Cadillac House not only amplifies the legendary brand’s narrative but offers a multi-faceted, immersive experience to boldly introduce Cadillac to its customers. The result taps the immense market potential in China while inspiring the company to modernize its design vocabulary across their international dealership locations and embrace the next generation of brand enthusiasts.