What Torino Can Teach Cleveland

Time has just published my story on Turin’s post-industrial transformation.

The closure of Torino’s Lingotto assembly plant in 1982 was a body blow for the Italian car capital. The Fiat automobile factory, inaugurated in 1923, was once the largest in Europe. Assembly lines carried cars up five levels and delivered them fully formed onto the roof, where they’d whip around an oval test track before spiraling down the building’s ramps and heading to showrooms. The shutdown marked the end of an era. That decade, Torino would lose more than 100,000 jobs, a trend that would continue through the rest of the century as the city’s industrial dominance slowly bled away.

Today the Lingotto plant stands once again as the symbol of the city. Only now the old factory serves as a testimonial that there can be life after the auto industry. Redesigned in the 1990s by Italian architect Renzo Piano, it forms the hub of a revitalized commercial district. The assembly floors, far from silenced, host a shopping mall, a multiplex, two hotels and an art gallery, and on the roof are a rooftop meeting room, a panoramic restaurant and a helicopter landing pad. The test track remains, now at the disposal of hotel guests looking for a jog high above the city streets.

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