The buildings extend over a length of 4.5 kilometres and are roughly 150 metres from
the beach. The coast offers a long flat sand beach, which stretches from Binz to the ferry port. This beach was thus an ideal location for the establishment of a seaside resort.
Designed by Clemens Klotz, who won a design competition overseen by Adolf Hitler's chief architect Albert Speer, all rooms were planned to overlook the sea, while corridors and sanitation are located on the land side. Each room of 5 by 2.5 metres was to have two beds, an armoire (wardrobe) and a sink. There were communal toilets, showers and ballrooms on each floor.
Hitler's plans for Prora were much more ambitious. He wanted a gigantic sea resort, the "most mighty and large one to ever have existed", holding 20,000 beds. In the middle, a massive building was to be erected. At the same time, Hitler wanted it to be convertible into a military hospital in case of war. Hitler insisted that the plans of a massive indoor arena by architect Erich Putlitz be included. Putlitz's Festival Hall was intended to be able to accommodate all 20,000 guests at the same time. His plans included two wave-swimming pools, a cinema and a theatre. A large dock for passenger ships was also planned.
The designs won a Grand Prix award at the 1937 Paris World Exposition.
Construction began in 1936 and during the few years that Prora was under construction, all major construction companies of the Reich and nearly 9,000 workers were involved in this project. With the onset of World War II in 1939, building on Prora stopped and the construction workers transferred to the V-Weapons plant at Peenemünde. The eight housing blocks, the theatre and cinema stayed as empty shells, and the swimming pools and festival hall never materialised. During the Allied bombing campaign, many people from Hamburg took refuge in one of the housing blocks, and later refugees from the east of Germany were housed there. By the end of the war, these buildings housed female auxiliary personnel for the Luftwaffe.